Sport Coaching And Peace Building

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

Sport Coaching And Peace Building


The study, “Sport coaching and peace building” is aimed at raveling the role of sport as a unifying agency and a tool for bringing about peace and development thereby reducing crime and delinquency in Nigeria, a case study of Plateau state. Nigeria is a complex nation and multi regional, ethnic, political, religious and culturally diverse population. The problem of integration still remains a challenge (among others) to the country. The researcher employed structural functionalism as a theoretical frame work. The study employed descriptive survey design and data was collected using questionnaire and interview.

Questionnaires were distributed to a total sample of (120) respondents which were selected for the study using stratified random sampling technique. Total of (15) respondents were also interviewed. The findings revealed that sport has achieved in its role as a unifying agent in Nigeria. Sport teaches good morals, sport contribute to the physical and mental development of the youths, sport help to prevent youth from delinquent behaviours, sport contribute to social development of the community. The researcher recommends that private individuals, organizations and government should invest in sport to encourage its development, policy makers should make and implement policies that would encourage the participation of students in sport, and grass root sport should be encouraged. The researcher concluded that sport programmes under the supervision of good coaches should be a multi agency approach in building peace and development process.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Coaching develops people through improving their performance (Criesfield et al., 2005). Sport is a recognized instrument for promoting peace, as it disregards both geographical borders and social class. It also plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts (Criesfield et al, 2005).

The use of sports for purposes of development has been increasingly important topic particularly in post-conflict societies (Giulianotti, 2011). The research on role of sports and particularly football in building peace is becoming even more important for sport organizations, donors as well as policy makers in variety of countries in the world. However, the empirical findings in this regard are not conclusive as in some situations in some countries sports contributes to social harmony while in some others it feeds conflict (Gasser and Levinsen, 2004; Giulianotti, 2011). This is because there is non-agreement in the literature on the role of sports in peace building. First, sport was viewed as mechanism to increase antagonism between rivalry groups and may reinforce division if not properly controlled (Majaro‐Majesty, 2011) of ethnicities and; second sport could facilitate social inclusion and integration (Gasser and Levinsen, 2004). In particular, there is a gap in the literature on how sport can be used more productively as a peace building device in post conflict countries.

Armstrong (2002:1) observed that, to the people of a nation suffering from a decade – long civil conflict, football, in this case sport could be seen by some as an ideal solution to providing a focus of national unity to a society fragmented by both ethnicity, regionalism, and age groupings. The word “sport” etymologically is derived from its Latin root ‘desporto’, meaning “to carry away”. This historical origin implies diversion from instrumental routines and suggests recreation. In historical terms, the idea that participation in sport has some utility (other than being enjoyed for its own sake) can be traced to the mid-nineteenth-century. United kingdom Middle-class reformers in the area of education and urban welfare began to develop the idea that sport participation, appropriately directed, could be involved in the development of character, work directed, could be involved in the development of character, work discipline, teamwork, fair play, and other socially approved characteristics.

Falola, (1998) shown that Sports began to be justified in education, youth detention centers, and by urban agencies, in attempt to affect the character and behavior of participants. These ideas spread to developed countries, and also became a part of the system of colonization, where the British games tradition was often transferred to colonized population.

Organized sport is still justified in these same terms as evident in the mission statement of any youth sport organization – what the organization claims will be taught to the participants involves a great deal more than sport.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

In societies affected by poverty, conflict and violence especially, the application of sports in solving several social issues is widely and gradually becoming acceptable. While other developing countries like Brazil, Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, have accepted the influence of football in ensuring peace as successful and productive, many pundits have been asking whether a similar feat can be said of the African continent and if so, the idea by the government to employ sport activities across the states, as a tool to unify and promote peace within the country.

Peace, a precious initiative sought for by many on the African continent due to the high level of intra territorial conflicts, has seen the application of many traditional techniques that focus on state-level solutions such as diplomacy, mediation and negotiation at the expense of the people. This is because, it is understood that, the only means to tackle conflict is through political interventions. It is important to know that, sports is one important but less applicable tool that has from time immemorial promoted peace in most parts of the world.

Kofi Annan in 2001, introduced the United Nations Office on Sport for Development (UNOSDP) to coordinate the efforts of the UN in bringing together in a cohesive manner, the world of sports, peace and development. The Secretary General in 2004 proclaimed in a speech that “Sport is a universal language. At its best, it can bring people together, regardless of their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status. That is why the UN is turning more and more to the world of sport for help in our work for peace and our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.” Also in 2006, the African Union (AU) declared 2007 as International Year of African Football.

In addition, the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the UNOSDP, collaborated in 2006 to organize sports competitions including football for a period of two weeks tagged ‘Jeux de la Paix’ (Peace Games). This was to bring together, youth from most part of the country with the aim of promoting the process of reconciliation in Democratic Republic of Congo. A similar sports project organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Burundi and the IOC, promoted among 13,500 children, inter-ethnic understanding and tolerance.

Furthermore, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as Football for Peace (F4P) have acknowledged the importance and usage of sports and football in promoting peace. For instance, in 2009, UNESCO proclaimed that in “order to achieve the goals of peace and development, it was paramount to recognize the cultural dimensions of sports which in its view, has not sufficiently been analyzed through academic work.” The organization therefore called for attention and support for traditional sports and games. Moreover, individually, the 1995 FIFA World best player and current president of Liberia, Oppong Weah, and the former two times African Best Player, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, with the help of his national team mates, used their roles as ambassadors of football to contribute immensely to peace in their respective countries at the time both countries were facing conflict tensions. Having realized the usefulness of football as a tool for promoting peace, this study tends to examine what Government, as organizations in charge of football in the world and Africa respectively, have done and are doing, in using the game of football to promote peace on the African continent.

1.3 Significance of the Study

This study is timely at this crucial period of insecurity escalation in Nigeria, especially Plateau State, which, at one time or the other, has been embroiled in ethno-religious skirmishes. Some of the cases of these conflicts were generated on slightest provocation. Therefore, the study is designed to improve the understanding of the role of sports coaching in the peace-building process in Plateau State. This research is significant in the sense that peace and unity cannot prosper under conditions of conflict, violence and lawlessness because the bedrock of any formidable society is peace and stability. The survival of any conflict-ridden community in Nigeria, therefore, depends on how conflicts are resolved. The study examines the peace-building efforts in Plateau State, which is considered to be ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ before turning to one of the hottest spots of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria, witnessing a large scale destruction of lives and properties and generating a lot of tension in the relationships between the different ethno-religious groups in the state and, by extension, the larger society, Nigeria.
Sports as it is known, brings people from different backgrounds, religion, ethnic group together Also, findings from the study will further examine ways to foster the national unity of Nigeria, which has hitherto been very fragile since independence.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. To what extent can sports contribute to peace building in Plateau?
  2. What has been the contribution of the government in this regard?
  3. What are the successes and challenges in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Objectives

  1. To examine the extent which sports contribute to peace building in Plateau.
  2. To identify the contribution of the government in this regard
  3. To identify the successes and challenges in Nigeria

1.6 Scope of the Study

Even though, the sport is dominant across the globe, the focus of this study is on Plateau state, Nigeria. within a period range of post-Cold war till date. This research focuses on the roles Government have played and are continuously playing in ensuring peace on the African continent through the use of sports, in this case football. A historical account of the relationship between football and peace is also highlighted.

1.7 Organization of Study

The following is a summary of the organization of the study:

  • Chapter One consists of Background to the study, Statement of the research problem, Research Questions, Objectives of the study, Justification and Significance of the Study, Scope of the Study and organization of study.
  • Chapter two consists of the Review of Related Literature on Conceptualizing Peace-Building; Peace-Building Mechanisms; Imperative of Peace-Building in Nigeria; Conceptualizing sports; Phenomenon of sport coaching in Plateau State; Gaps in Literature and Theoretical Framework.
  • Chapter three consists of the Research Methodology while
  • Chapter four presenting and analyzing data generated and
  • Chapter five consists of the Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The findings of this study provide insight into the need for SDP researchers, practitioners, and educators to explore and understand the context of a given community prior to and during their research and practice. To be developed and implemented effectively, my study demonstrates that SDP first and foremost requires partnership and collaboration. The subsequent programming and its impact should be secondary to establishing long-term relationships and a means for conducting ongoing monitoring. Based on the process and findings of this project, I propose a community a case a community model for undertaking research and work in the SDP field. To be conducted responsibly, I feel research should seek to understand the wider community context before narrowing its focus on a specific case study. Returning the focus back out to the larger community following each step of the process allows for reflection on how even the most localized, grassroots effort may impact the wider community and its stakeholders and members. The extent to which this model could be carried out effectively would be determined based on the allotted timeline for a study and the willingness to commit to ongoing monitoring and dialogue. I acknowledge that my findings are based on the initial steps of this new program, and not conclusive in terms of evaluating the ongoing impact of the program. Ultimately, my goal and the goal of many who support program implementation is to be able to step back and witness a program’s sustainability without external stakeholders. The foundation must therefore be an impetus that stems from within a community and its stakeholders, perhaps with external encouragement and collaboration where appropriate.

The study illuminated a series of themes common to interview participants that provided a backdrop to the development of the sports program. Ongoing recovery following the 2007-2008 post-election violence plays a role in the current attitude of Jos’s community members; I noted that women in particular are eager to build a peaceful place for their children to live. Significant social challenges exist for girls and women living in Jos, and this theme surfaced in every interview I conducted. The social issues raised in this theme correlated to two others: the perceived lack of resources available to women in the community and to the community, and the barriers to implementing the sports program. The teachers shared their hesitancy toward taking time out of the regular community curriculum to provide supplementary PE or extra curricular programming, though they acknowledged that the time available would increase when the girls move to their new boarding community facility. Despite the social challenges for girls and women in Jos, and despite the perceived lack of resources available to them (e.g. financial, small staff, perceived lack of expertise to lead various activities), there was an overriding sense of hope and ambitious vision among the teachers and founders at Coach. This eagerness to collaborate to build a productive, unifying community culture was at the core of our interviews and discussions. Though the sports program is still in its early stages, the groundwork is in place for ongoing dialogue and planning, and there is a willingness among teachers and founders to begin implementing some of the ideas shared during group discussions.

Limitations of this Study

Perhaps the most significant limitation to this research, and to its ability to build conclusive arguments was the relatively short period of time I had to conduct the research. Though my focus was initially on the founders, teachers, and students at Coach Preparatory Community (and remains there), I quickly discovered that a much broader community needs assessment would be requisite to develop a more in-depth understanding of the greater Jos and Kisumu community. In addition to my desire to conduct further research into the previous and current SDP efforts within Kisumu, and the long-term nature of development work there, I hope to continue monitoring the progress of the sports program at the community, and its impact on students and staff, as well as its ultimate impact, if any, on the larger community.

My experiences in interviewing and relationship building with participants within the context of a PAR research approach demonstrated the need for the three part method I described in my results section: Discovering the larger scope of the community focusing on the specific case widening back out to the needs of the greater community. My timing was such that I needed to leave the community at the initial stages of program implementation. Our study was the tip of the iceberg in terms of exploring the potential role of sport as a tool for grassroots, community level peace building. The project evolved so that we focused specifically on the potential role of sport in developing a young community’s culture and values reinforcement, and ideally we would eventually explore its contribution to a larger community peace building effort (e.g. through future engagement with other communitys in the community). Ongoing communications with teachers and founders, and future visits to the community will provide more definitive answers as to how their sports program and extra curricular offerings have contributed to community pride and unity among students, student leadership, positive outreach and engagement with other communitys, and progress towards creating larger community peace building initiatives. I would have also liked to expand the scope of the photovoice project and the level of student involvement in the development of the sports program. I was fortunate to have the assistance of the teachers in translating both parent and student responses, and feel that given more time my relationships within the community would have deepened further to allow for even more open dialogue and sharing, especially among the student participants.

A second limitation was the relatively low number of interview participants, due to a small staff in a young community. Over time, the community will hire more teachers that will be able to contribute to developing Coach’s culture, and perhaps bring a wider spectrum of expertise for implementing extra curricular activities. Though I did attend several meetings with a 15 member women’s group in the community, thereby gaining further insight into the challenges faced by girls and women in Jos, (and gathered powerful stories of lived experiences in that community), I was not able to gather the consent of all members to participate officially in this study. It did not feel appropriate in all cases to turn a situation where I was a guest into a researcher-participant relationship. A more extensive study of this area would allow for more voices to be represented, gathering more shared lived experiences, and a longer term account of the progress of the sports program.

5.2 Recommendations

Truly, I believe that the validity of this research will come from the extent to which the data and analysis are able to productively serve the Coach Preparatory Community now and in the future. Through this PAR study, I aimed to contribute to both the local community I am working with, as well as to a larger body of knowledge within the SDP field. Our intent was to provide a venue for dialogue and offer an opportunity for collaboration as the founders, teachers, and students form the precedent for their community culture. As Kidd stated, SDP programs “need to be linked to other interventions such as education, health and employment, i.e. to become ‘sport plus’…research in SDP must be grounded within more extensive literature on development generally” (Kidd, 2011, p. 606). In this regard, the potential to draw connections between classroom curriculum and the development of physical education curriculum and programming was paramount to our discussions. Ideally, further research in this context would also include a more in depth literature review and analysis of the broader international development arena, as Kidd suggests. For the purposes of this study I looked at SDP specifically, but believe there is fertile ground for further examination of SDP’s potential within the larger Kisumu development context. This would require a longer-term study of Kisumu’s various development projects, and the gathering of multiple perspectives: local community members and international workers.

We also aimed to explore how incorporating sport and other extra curricular offerings into their curriculum might help Coach in the development of their community culture and in their engagement and outreach among their wider community. The unified message I heard from women in the community was that despite the many social challenges they face, they feel there has been great improvement towards peace in their area following the 2007-2008 postelection violence. They attribute factors such as increasing inter-tribal marriages, the emergence of women’s support groups, and the very presence of Coach Preparatory Community as a resource for girls as contributing to this unity. Coach is experiencing many forms of momentum at the moment: the construction of a new community building and boarding house that will allow them to move into a more rural setting outside of the slum where they can expand their student capacity and program offerings on a larger property, the development of their 2020 strategic plan, outlining their plans for a growing faculty and farmland purchase at their new campus, and the current teachers’ growing awareness of their unique position and opportunity to take on leadership roles and ownership of the development of the new sports program. This awareness of ownership has the potential to empower them to feel more engaged in their current positions, provide them with a deepened sense of agency in their employment, deepen their sense of camaraderie as a staff, and expand the skillsets and areas of expertise on their resume.

Areas of Opportunity

Following our meetings in Plateau, Coach now has partnerships and dialogue with three new organizations that are working in girls education and sport for peace: Shining Hope for Communities, Carolina for Kibera, and Kibera Girls Soccer Academy. They have also partnered with the Young County Change Makers (YCCM Nigeria) who work more locally in Kisumu as well as the U.S. Embassy during the last month.

Opportunities exist for ongoing international partnerships with Coach Preparatory Community, and continued financial support for the development of their sports program. One example has been the engagement of a local Canadian athletic community. Over Labour Day Weekend 2015, 65 runners participated in the second annual Handloggers Half Marathon on Bowen Island, with proceeds from registration fees and additional donations supporting Coach Preparatory Community. It is our hope that a remote community of support will continue to engage with the progress at Coach, both in their educational and extra curricular programs. I intend to return to Kisumu in January 2016 (one year after beginning this study) to see the progress at the new boarding community location and to continue in-depth dialogue with community partners about the status of their sports programming.

Current Status of the Program

I’ve continued my dialogue with Coach’s founders and the four teachers at Coach since my departure. They are very much committed to developing their sports program and continuing to engage in peace building activities through their own extra curricular offerings as well as their greater community outreach. In addition, the community founders have shared that they are now applying for grants to employ a sports trainer at the community to coach the girls asthey want sport to be an integral part of their programs. They also have plans to landscape thecompound at their new campus site to make a playground and sports field for the girls. Ultimately, while the founders and teachers are eager to launch their sports program, and have agreed on its value as a contributor to their developing community culture, some of the implementation plans are perhaps a bit premature at this stage. Stalled progress in the program’s development can be attributed to multiple factors such as limited budget and lack of materials (we discussed ways to creatively step around this), pressure felt by teachers to deliver classroom curriculum over supplementary sports programming and other extra curricular activities, and the young history of the community – they are still very much in the initial stages of developing their community culture and identity. Because of this, they are poised to take the sports program in whatever direction they wish, and as a private community they have an incredible opportunity to build out their extra curricular offerings and set themselves apart as a provider of enrichment programming in their wider community. I had engaged in dialogue with community founders prior to arriving in Nigeria to discern whether they and their teaching staff wished to partner for this project. Their eagerness was the basis for our decision to conduct this research. Last month, the community sent two teachers to a sports training clinic focused on football for life skills co-hosted by Young County Change Makers (YCCM Nigeria) and the U.S. Embassy so that they might develop their sports facilitation skills. I see this as evidence of the community’s ongoing commitment to continuing this project.

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