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A new online course is set to support a range of individuals and organisations in sport. / Credit: Aaron Kearney, ABC International Development


First published July 2020.

A new, freely available online course will help individuals and organisations harness the potential of sport in their work towards sustainable development.    

With more governments and organisations around the world recognising sport as an enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sport is increasingly being used as a tool to address issues ranging from health and education to employment and conflict resolution.  

But, despite the increasing use of sport and growing perception of its value, individuals and organisations have limited opportunities to learn how to maximise sport’s positive impact.

To address this gap, the International Platform on Sport and Development, the Australian Government and Commonwealth Secretariat have collaborated to support the development of a free online course on Sport for Sustainable Development.  

Designed to meet the needs of a variety of learners, including government officials, intergovernmental and sports organisations, public policy experts, the private sector and civil society organisations, the course allows learners to explore aspects of program design and, implementation, and understand how to measure the impact of policies and programs.  The course also allows learners to explore key concepts on sport and gender equality, disability, human rights, social inclusion, peacebuilding and safeguarding.  

Featuring contributions from around the world, the course shares lessons learnt, best practice and top tips from policy makers and practitioners, helping learners to explore different approaches to Sport for Development from those delivering sport-centred programs on a day-to-day basis.  

Recognising the important role that sport can play in promoting learning and meaningful engagement at national, regional and international levels, Fiji’s Dr. Robin Mitchell, President of the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) and Executive Board Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the course will be a vital addition to the field.  

“This course provides an exciting opportunity for all those in the Pacific and around the world interested in learning how to take action and use sport to make a positive impact.  In the Pacific sport is being used by governments, organisations and communities as an enabler of change.  Today, more than ever, sport is becoming an important tool to support the communication of information and to teach children, young people and adults.  By harnessing the positive power of sport, we have an opportunity to shape the development of ideas, opinions and actions – both at home and abroad.  I would encourage anyone interested in learning how they can use sport as a tool to support the advancement of the sustainable development agenda, to sign up for this course.” 

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The longstanding work and engagement of the Commonwealth Secretariat in support of collaboration among our member countries to develop policies and programmes on sport and development have yielded valuable perspectives and practical understanding of how life opportunities for people from all backgrounds can be improved through well-designed and adaptable strategies.

“Our focus is on extending the benefits of sport to more people, from more diverse backgrounds, more often. This course offers leaders, practitioners, and young people alike superb professional development opportunities to build their skills and develop highly effective policies and programmes which enable the potential of sport as a force for good to be realised fully and inclusively in the countries of the Commonwealth – and more widely.”

The collaboration between the International Platform on Sport and Development, the Australian Government and the Commonwealth Secretariat to develop the course is underpinned by each organisation’s focus on providing accessible opportunities for learning.  

“Recognising the need to increase access to resources and educational opportunities for a wide and varied audience, this course focuses on helping learners to understand how to effectively integrate sport into policies and programs to advance the SDGs.  In an era where the face-to-face delivery of sport has been disrupted and threatened, this course helps audiences to think critically, and understand how to leverage sport, drive innovation and challenge the status-quo,” explained Gunnar Hagstrom from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and member of the International Platform on Sport and Development Steering Board.

The International Platform on Sport and Development, the Australian Government and Commonwealth Secretariat would like to thank all those who contributed to the development of the course, including the Expert Reference Group and the academic team.  


The International Platform on Sport and Development

Sportanddev is the leading hub for organisations and individuals using sport for development to share knowledge, build good practice, coordinate with others and create partnerships. 

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

The Australian Government supports sport for development and sports diplomacy programs that strengthen international connections, build safer communities, and facilitate the participation of women, girls and people with disability.

Commonwealth Secretariat

The Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to achieve development, democracy and peace.  The Secretariat’s work helps to grow economies and boost trade, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality. 

Academic and course development team

Bond University, Australia; The Academy of Sport, University of Edinburgh; Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London; Woodgate Consulting

Expert Reference Group

Barbados Olympic Association; Commonwealth Games Federation; Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace network; Durham University; Government of Anguilla; Grupo Internacional de la Paz; International Olympic Committee; International Working Group on Women and Sport, Botswana; Oceania Swimming Association; Plataforma Deporte para el Desarrollo y la Paz; Rekha Dey & Associates; Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee; University of Malaya; University of Zambia; Urece Sports and Culture

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