Sport for Development

Sport for Development

The Sport for Development movement in Canada involves community sport projects that intentionally use sport to build healthy communities, to train the next generation of leaders and to influence government at all levels to adopt more inclusive and robust sport-related policies.

Strategic Vision

Through the Sport for Development initiative, the Foundation envisions a network of community leaders who actively use sports programs to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, to reinforce healthy lifestyles and to foster both civic pride and participation – all building blocks of a resilient community – with particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable individuals and communities.

Granting Total

  • True Sport Foundation: $2.5 million over 4 years
  • Ray-Cam Co-operative Community Centre: $336,000 over 3 years
  • Sport Matters Group: $459,000 over 4 years
  • KidSport Canada: $325,000 over 3 years
  • Active Circle - Motivate Canada: $222,000 planning grant for 1 year; $1,850,000 over 5 years
  • Equitas: $300,000 over 3 years

Program History

Since September 2006, the six grants making up the Sport for Development program have supported community-based projects, generated new discussions between community leaders and policymakers, influenced the development of provincial and national sport policy, and promoted the training and skills development of community sport coaches and leaders. Each year, an emerging group of sport for development practitioners, researchers, policymakers and young athletes meet to share lessons and discuss ways to increase the impact of their work.

We have broadened the reach of this initiative by collaborating with the Ontario Trillium Foundation on several projects and by joining the Working Together Initiative, a multi-sectoral effort to use sport in addressing complex health and educational challenges.

Community sport organizations are sharing what they are learning about effective sport for development programs: an excellent example is True Sport’s What Sport Can Do. These lessons are being shared with the community sector, funders and governments at conferences and forums across Canada.

Moving forward, the Foundation hopes to establish some of the lessons from community sport projects within the culture and practice of other major Canadian sport organizations.

Key Lessons

  • Community sport programs have a significant impact on health and educational outcomes for young people. Sport programs help recent immigrants to integrate into Canadian communities, provide an alternative to gang behaviour, and foster community participation.
  • Program effectiveness can be enhanced by recruiting and training teenaged volunteers to coach younger children. Almost half of all volunteers in Canada begin their volunteering through sport and recreation; it is a catalyst for a whole range of volunteer activities later in life. Therefore, the active participation of young volunteers can improve program impact and make a longer term contribution to the voluntary sector.
  • The Sport Matters Group has built an effective network of community and national sport leaders without building an organization. This may be a model for national networks to extend their influence without controlling resources.
  • Community sport initiatives bring together people working in health promotion, crime prevention, immigrant settlement and education, encouraging holistic approaches to community development.
  • This initiative has proven highly successful, both in local communities and at the national policy level. Embedding promising approaches into the structures and mindsets of the institutions that fund and govern sport in Canada (e.g. national sport and recreation organizations and coaching associations) remains a challenge; it represents a shift from gatekeeper to facilitator.
  • Some community sport practitioners are moving from a service-delivery model in which outside experts organize sports for people to an approach in which citizens draw upon their own talents and resources to build their own programs and communities. In a similar vein, there is an untapped capacity for young people to design and run their own programs. This represents a significant shift for the task oriented sports community. Academics and sport practitioners adopt very different approaches toresearch and its use; it would be to everyone’s advantage to bridge the gap between these two cultures.

The Foundation staff and practitioners of Sport for Development have defined a set of guiding principles for the Sport for Development initiative.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation 1002 Sherbrooke W., Suite 1800, Montreal, Québec H3A 3L6