– Sam Dilliway – 

We are now back at the University of Bradford working with the Sport, Culture and Conflict Resolution Working Group led by Professor Tom Woodhouse and Dr David Curran, and finishing our research. 

Sarah recently spoke on the subject of Gender in SDP programs at the Bill Huntley Rotary Peace Symposium and will finish her dissertation in December.

I am taking classes this semester, and will be writing up my research Jan-April 2013. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. For further reading, we recommend a first stop look at SportandDev.org 


– Sam Dilliway –

I’m very sad to hear the news about the violence in Tana River, just up the coast from where we are, near to Somalia. Over the past two weeks we have seen it explained as being conflict over land between pastoralists, but with the death toll now topping one hundred, the arrest of prominent MP and Assistant Livestock Minister Dhadha Godhana, and comment being made from the US, there is another story emerging; this violence has tribalism at its roots, and is being perpetrated with the 2013 presidential elections in mind. 

Dhado Godhana, Kenyan MP, arrested yesterday in connection with the violence in Tana River

As we have travelled across Kenya the past two months, we have frequently discussed the 2007/8 post-election violence, and found there to be widespread belief that the root causes of that violence have not been eradicated, and fear that the next elections, which were due to be in the autumn in 2012 but have been postponed to March 2013, will also see a considerable amount of conflict along tribal lines between people who ordinarily live alongside each other in peace.

It’s in this context that I wonder about the capability of sports to be used as a tool for peace: Can Sports be used for Peacebuilding? It’s a question that I’ve been asking throughout my research this summer, but here I see a concrete situation in the not too distant future looming. In Kenya we have met with organisations that have experience ranging from twenty-five years, all the way down to just two years. Each of these organisations felt helpless to intervene the last time around, and indeed often had their programmes interrupted because of security concerns. There were some interesting small-scale interventions, such as tournaments arranged post-conflict to bring people together, and a trauma recovery program that was initiated and run on an ad-hoc basis on several occasions, but it seems there were not any SDP programs in operation at that time that were planned and co-ordinated with any experience or training in peace work or peacebuilding.

I wonder if the GIZ YDF program on violence prevention might be able to do anything about this? It’s new, having only been finished late last year, and we know of four organisations in the country who have facilitators trained in South Africa to train coaches in the Violence Prevention through Football program. From our research we learned these programs are now just starting out in Nairobi, while one program on the coast started implementing it over the past few months.

YDF Manual for Violence Prevention, Created by GIZ

Can a football program play any serious role among the many needed for violence prevention? Can it become a necessary element alongside a wider set of interventions such as mediation and negotiation? The important difference here is that SDP programs attract young people who enjoy sports, and predominantly operate at the grassroots level.

Common Kenyan opinion is that during election periods violence is directly instigated by wealthy politicians motivated to increase their chances at gaining a political seat and thereby gaining access to the nation’s riches. Their strategy is to incite tribal divisions by paying poorly educated, unemployed young people to attack citizens from other tribes. But who are these poorly educated renegades? Are such young people included in football projects run by organisations such as MYSA, VAP, TIA Hope and Moving the Goalposts? Can these football projects have such a strong impact as to change perceptions and create relationships between participants across all economic and tribal lines that are strong enough to discourage repeating the 2007/8 violence come the 2013-election? Specific research on this is interesting, necessary and timely.

Two football teams line up for the final at the East African Cup. The tournament has a strong peace and togetherness ethic.

My mind stirs as I write this because we were recently told by an organization that the GIZ funding for the YDF violence prevention program was due to come to an end shortly, and they were unaware if it would continue, thus the program at the height of its demand faces imminent discontinuation. It seems to me this is the critical time to increase funding given the current need for peacebuilding projects before the election. And, since these programs are newly established, finding supplemental funding overnight would be a real challenge.

-Sam Dilliway-

In one of the last blogs, I mused about the impact of the Paralympics. After Lord Coe’s emotional speech at the closing ceremony I wanted to follow-up.

 Quoted in the Telegraph, Lord Coe said “Neither sport nor disability would be thought of the same way after the Paralympians “lifted the cloud of limitation” and “The legacy of the Paralympic Games was a “seismic effect in shifting public attitudes”.

A poll by Ipsos MORI found that:

“Eight in 10 Britons felt the Paralympics had a positive effect on the way disabled people were viewed by the public.”

Baroness Tanya Grey-Thompson, the famous 11-time Paralympic medallist, who I recall watching on TV when I was growing up (and my mum always telling me how amazing she was), said:

“London 2012 “brought sport to a whole new level”, and she had been struck by the change in attitude among the public. “Legacy is much more than just the buildings or even a change in participation,” she said. “I think what I’ve seen is just people having a different attitude towards Paralympic athletes.”

Fantastic stuff.

Ireland’s Jason Smyth celebrates with his Gold medal on the podium after winning the Men’s 200m T13 Final at the Olympic Stadium, Smyth equalled Usain Bolt’s achievement of the ‘double double’ – defending both 100m and 200m sprints at consecutive Paralympics. Photo credit: David Davies/PA Wire

A Channel 4 poll has discovered that:

“More than 80 per cent of the public surveyed agreed that disabled athletes are as talented as able-bodied athletes, rising to 91 per cent among those who had watched the coverage.”

The channel saw its biggest audience in more than 10 years,  when more than 11 million people tuned in watch the opening ceremony.

Success: Fiji’s Iliesa Delana celebrates after winning the men’s F42 high jump

The Guardian had an article on 1st September, debating the question: Will the Paralympics change attitudes to disability? In it, the argument was espoused that it will because of the wider audiences that will be reached – and gripped – by the sports on display; contrasted to the view that not all disabled will become sporting champions, and

“It is not sporting achievement that will determine the nation’s view of disabled people as a whole, and nor should it be. Not every disabled person will be a Paralympic champion, but that does not detract from the fact that they are a unique human being, with skills that should be valued, and weaknesses too.”

Interesting to note that Loughborough Uni will carry out research on “Olympics perspective and attitudes towards the Paralympics athlete”. I will await this report with interest.

Finally, two links: The Telegraph has a gallery on the 50 best images from the Paralympics, from which all the pictures for this blog are taken. And a youtube video of an amazing table tennis shot by GB’s David Wetherill

ParalympicsGB’s Tracey Hinton and her guide Steffan Hughes competing in a 100m – T11 heat. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)


Just came across a great article by GB Paralympian 100m sprinting star Sophia Warner:

The idea of legacy, for example, was heard frequently throughout the Olympics. But as a disabled person and a Paralympic athlete I believe it has so much more relevance in the case of these Games because they will have such a positive impact on mine, and so many other people’s, lives. They will showcase many different disabilities, help educate parents and children, and make their mark across the community, in schools and in the workplace.

For me, I will be able to refer openly to my disability, which will offer a sense of liberation and pride in what I have achieved, not just on the track but also in my everyday existence. I think that all this will help the next generation, offering a better chance of understanding and acceptance.

The full article on the Guardian website is here:

– Sarah Oxford –

Modern sport, meaning the team-organised variety with “a set of strict, precise rules which needed to be respected everywhere in the same way, in spite of local conditions and features”, appeared in 19th Century England as a way to organise the masses during the transition to industrialisation and democracy (Bouzou, 89). Sport in the British colonies ensued and as such historians have argued that “sporting practices are historically produced, socially constructed, and culturally defined to serve the interests and needs of powerful groups in society (Bandya et al., 3).”

Since inception sport and the cash-cow elements of professional sport have been male-centric; however, because sport reaches all levels of society as a leisure activity, it naturally created (although grudgingly) a pathway to challenge gender norms. Oddly, it appears that due to modern circumstances, breakthroughs in gender stereotypes via sport happened less in the UK than in the USA.

The biggest surprise I’ve encountered as an American living in UK is the inherent sexism within sports. Besides Jessica Ennis, I rarely see women athletes in the media. Moreover, the idea of me as a footballer (regardless of awards or capability) is repeatedly questioned as if preposterous.  My own co-ed football team (note: I was the only girl this year) even fit the bill offering perverse ‘compliments’ such as you’re good for a girl and Sarah’s basically a guy.

Peace Studies FC

The backwards comments are disturbing, yet logical considering their role-models, such as Sir Bobby Charlton, are making similar delusional remarks. In reference to the British women’s football team, he said:

I have been watching women’s games on television and I have had to remind myself I am not watching the men. And I mean that as a compliment…

I need to do further research on feminist movements in Britain as I’m unclear what happened to allow this far-reaching male chauvinism in sport to exist in 2012. It’s especially ponderous because much theoretical debate about women and sport took place in GB and the First World Conference on Women and Sport took place in Brighton in 1994. More puzzling is that GB’s role in development and peace that I have seen here in East Africa includes top-down funding to socially inclusive sports programs. Fascinating hypocrisy?

This response to my first question, leads me ask:

Why did the USA move towards sports equity faster than the UK? Are there comparable laws like Title IX in other countries? Why is women’s football in USA, Japan, Germany and Brazil more advanced than other nations? Where is the impetus in the UK to fund women’s athletics in LMIC’s coming from? What is the importance of top-down legislation compared to grassroots efforts when it comes to developing a culture of acceptance and equality in sport? Does inclusion of women in sport create pathways for increased female participation in education, business, government? And if so, does social inclusion in sport lead to a more peaceful society?

Works Cited

Bouzou, Joel (2010): Peace Through Sport: When Myth Becomes Reality. Armand Colin/ IRIS, Paris.

Susan J. Bandya, Gigliola Gorib & Dong Jinxiac (2012): From Women and Sport to Gender and Sport: Transnational, Transdisciplinary, and Intersectional Perspectives, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 29:5, 667-674

– Sarah Oxford – 

I can’t tell you how many times on the playground as a kid I heard a boy defame another by saying “you throw like a girl”. As a super-athletic girl, it baffled me. When I thought about it, it never made sense: I am a girl and I’m good at sports. I often beat boys at sports. So why wouldn’t he want to throw like me? Where is the link between my private parts and anyone else’s throwing skills?

Gender discrimination in sport is something every female athlete must face from novice to professional irrespective of nationality. As most female athletes know, when confronting sexism of this nature it’s empowering, uncomfortable and exhausting.


To be blunt and elementary, sexism is stupid. It belittles the individual and then society-at-large by discouraging and thus not maximising on 50% of a populations potential. In sport it’s in all levels, but most destructive is structural sexism which deters the creation of youth programs, obstructs professional women’s athletic endorsements and therefore largely reduces the existence of female role-models.

Luckily for me, as mentioned here, I’m a Title IX girl. So even though many of the boys on my playground repeated jeers learned from their adult mentors in attempts to disparage my athletic career and boost their insecure egos, I had a message from the top-down that I could succeed. And with leaders like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting sports as a vehicle for female empowerment abroad, that message keeps getting stronger all over the world.

A recent Washington Post article revealed that at the 2012 London Olympics the US Women won “two-thirds of the U.S. team’s golds and nearly 60 percent of the overall medals.” Judo, boxing and football (soccer) are only a few of the internationally male-dominated sports of which the US team dominated at the olympics, disproving stereotypes of frailty liken to femininity. (The next sentence is to be read in haut-voice.) “If the U.S. women were their own nation, they would have finished third in the gold medal table with 29 medals.” That’s beating the US men (15), China (17), and Great Britain (16).

Expanding upon the above numbers, The Huffington Post published an article discussing the imagined potential of societies where women’s rights and opportunities expand to every “sector of society, government and business.”

The World Economic Forum has found that those countries where women and men are closer to enjoying equal rights are far more economically competitive than those where women have little or no access to medical care, education, elected office and the marketplace. Imagine the progress we could make in economic and technological development, in global health, in democratic governance, if the potential of women in each of these fields could be finally and fully unleashed.

Supporters of women’s sports and female athletes are rejoicing at this monumental victory in women’s athletics and expect a ripple effect throughout the world. But exactly where does this ripple go and for how long? Where should the line of expectation be drawn?

To be continued…


– Sam Dilliway –

So we’re now in Nairobi, Kenya. The first organisation we met with is VAP: Vijana Amani Pamajo.They work in both government run schools, and what are called ‘informal’ schools. ‘Informal’ schools are the ones that are outside of government responsibility often in informal settlements (slums), and are run by Churches, NGOs or local volunteers. They also work out in the communities after school and during holidays.

Skillz Kenya is the name of their main program, which is about HIV/Aids awareness and training. For this they run a number of special events and tournaments where football is the focus, and participants and spectators receive testing and health advice on the sidelines. This seems to be a common way of going about this across the East African region, where we have heard of a number of organisations utilising this same model where football and other sports are the hook for another goal.

HIV Program Poster in VAP Field Office

The program they run which focuses on girls is called Mrembo, meaning beautiful in Swahili. This addresses issues that specifically affect girls such as reproductive health, teaching about early pregnancy, abortion, relationship and sex advice. It also moves beyond this by attempting to empower the girls economically through the training of a skill. This is Nancy’s favourite project, believing it to have a very important impact. She passionately stated that:

“We need to go out and tell the world that soccer can be a powerful tool for girls as well as boys.”

Nairobi is very mixed ethnically, as people have moved from rural to urban settings, with the creation of peri-urban areas such as slums where many of these newcomers to the City live. This results in VAP programs are well integrated in terms of ethnicities. This diversity extends to their staff and volunteers.

We had an interesting discussion about the post election violence in 2007. VAP was not yet a formal organisation, but the current leaders were already aware of the possibilities of using sport to help communities and decided to run some sports tournaments in one of the affected areas close to them: the Kiambiu slum. Here they distributed food from friends and created a program for trauma recovery and peacebuilding. Nancy admitted that there was fear of entering the slum as a Kikuyu, entering into a Luo area, and at the start there was real tension with leaders not knowing if violence may spark up again, but they ran the program for some weeks with other community groups until funds ran out. The program still isn’t running at the moment due to a lack of donors, but they want to run it again in the future. After running this program they received funding from FIFA, and formalised their organisation.

Sam with staff at the VAP Field Office in Madiwa, Nairobi

Nancy also told us about a program created by GIZ (German Government) that they hope to run in the lead into the next election, scheduled for March, called Violence Prevention through Football.  Hopefully they can use it to make a positive difference in Nairobi.

On this, it’s interesting and encouraging to learn that VAP is part of a network called streetfootballworld which has connected VAP with three other organisations in Kenya which use Football for Development. They work together to share resources and training, and have also worked together to bid for funding.