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NRL PNG manager Cathy Neap delivers the NRL's wellbeing program in a Port Moresby classroom. / Aaron Kearney - ABC International Development


A freely available online course that guides individuals and organisations to harness the potential of sport in their work towards sustainable development has re-opened to learners for a second run commencing in May 2021.

The course was initially launched in July 2020 by the the Australian Government (led by Team Up), the International Platform on Sport and Development (sportanddev) and the Commonwealth Secretariat to maximise the contribution sport can make to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other priorities.

The massive open online course (MOOC) is designed to build capacity among individuals and organisations using sport for development in their policies and programs. It features contributions from around the world and was designed in conjunction with an expert reference group and academic team. It empowers learners to explore aspects of program design and implementation and understand how to measure the impact of policies and programs. It also explores key concepts on sport and gender equality, disability, human rights, social inclusion, peacebuilding and safeguarding, with practical insights from experts. The course is interactive, includes engaging video and audio content, and encourages learners to share their on-ground experiences and insights at every stage.  

The first run of the course attracted instant uptake across the globe and, based on feedback from users, has been comprehensively assessed and updated in order to improve it for a second run. This includes soliciting feedback from an expert reference group and through a learner survey. 

The course now includes:

  • A dedicated component related to sport and COVID-19 with guidance and resources
  • Improved focus on cross-cutting issues such as human rights, gender and safeguarding
  • Increased signposting to key initiatives, resources and tools, including other courses 
  • Enhancing the user journey and experience, taking into account learner feedback 

The updated course will start on 10 May 2021.

During the first course run (July to December 2020), more than 3,400 learners from 165 countries across six continents joined the course. Further highlights include:

  • 96 per cent of learners surveyed* indicated the course met or exceeded their expectations
  • 95 per cent of learners surveyed* indicated they gained new knowledge or skills in the course
  • 92 per cent of learners surveyed* indicated that they were satisfied with the course
  • 75 per cent of learners surveyed* indicated that they have shared learnings with other people
  • Excellent learner engagement with structured peer to peer learning and networking
  • Gender split of enrolled learners: 48 per cent female/51 per cent male (1 per cent non-binary) **

* The post-course survey is optional, meaning it was not completed by all learners
** Gender and other demographic information is optional and was not provided by all learners

The course attracted a range of audiences, including from the public, private and third sectors, prominent sporting institutions, intergovernmental agencies, NGOs and other key stakeholders. Many cited the course as filling a crucial gap in the sport and development field.

Sixty-two per cent of learners surveyed indicated they have already applied the information, tools and resources from the course in their policies, programs and projects, suggesting the course is having a real-world impact on sport and development.

Maureen Rosita Ojong Ebob-Besong, a youth leader and entrepreneur in sport and development from Senegal, described how the course helped progress her career: 

”I benefited from the four-week online training course as I learnt more about pitching, structuring, and developing sport for development (S4D) initiatives and programs. The tools and documentation helped me gain more knowledge about sport and development. I encourage people to register for the course, be they S4D instructors or administrators. A big thank you to all who helped develop and deliver this world class training which I recommend to all with an interest in the field.”

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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