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Sports Development in Developing Countries: Barriers and Strategies

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Introduction - Utilizing Sport to Develop Nations: Strategies for Promoting Participation in Emerging Economies

Research Background

This research study is focused on sport activities in developing countries as well as the strategies that can utilize to develop sport in such developing nations. As per the research performed by Nnah (2021), sport development is about the promotion and participation in the opportunities related to sport activities. Participation in physical activities, as well as sport, spans a wide range of contexts along with the wholesomeness connected with the freedom of the children to play and make their career in this field. Therefore, sport development research, as well as practice, is concerned with the manifestations of sport-related experiences.

According to Zakaria and Abubakari (2019), Sport is not only an activity performed for entertainment but also this activity plays an important role in defining the cultures as well as the developing communities. Sport activities influence individuals' life in different ways across the globe. The implementation of the sport programmes within a nation offers the children the opportunities of learning teamwork, leadership qualities as well as participation in different events. The sport include physical activities that also stimulate improvements in health and it also offers the children equal opportunities to get engaged in different sport events. The sport activities have the ability to foster the development of the economy in the developing countries as it also offers various benefits to the participants as well as other people of the nation such as job opportunities, better health, and wellbeing, declining crime rates as well as an increasing level of income for the local residents. Sport activities and development are also helpful in creating and maintaining a positive image of the country internationally.

Problem Statement

Sport activities have been considered as the discursive and practical tools for the development of an individual as well as the whole nation. Not only the developing nations but also the more developed countries try to enjoy the benefits of certain sport attributes in order to achieve the objectives associated with the international development of the nation. The role of the sport in development initiatives of the countries has been increased over time. This also secures a position among the UN’s sustainable development goals (Schellhorn, et al., 2020). Sport development has been around since the late 1970’s. It has also gained immense popularity in the past few years since people have become more aware of their health and wellbeing. Physical inactivity among individuals is one of the most leading factors for non-communicable diseases. There is an increased risk of 20% to 30% among the insufficiently active people for death as compared to the people who are sufficiently active (Shen, et al., 2020). In developing nations, there is still a very slow growth or development of sport activities and the causes behind such declined growth are innumerable. There is a debate among the researchers regarding such barriers to the sport development activities and related economic growth of such emerging countries. There is a requirement of effective strategies for the development of these sport activities and participation in developing countries and this research will try to address this concern associated with the underdeveloped sport curriculum and activities in the developing nations (Sanni, et al., 2018).

Significance of the research

Sport development is an increasingly popular topic and wide research again be specific here – whatyou mean is sport for development is being conducted to identify the key barriers in the development of the sport as well as explore the benefits of these sport activities for the economic development of emerging countries. There could be different causes behind the lack of interest or awareness about sport among the people in emerging nations. These reasons can include age, gender, socio-economic status, and ethnicity as well as disabilities. This is one of the specific areas in which the developing nations are required to shift their focus and improve the economic condition of the country (Zeng, 2020). It has been identified that sport in developing and emerging nations are less popular and in trend as compared to a developed nation. This research study will contribute towards exploring the benefits of the development of sport activities which will raise awareness among the people regarding the same.

Research Aims and Objectives


The aim of this research study is to explore the barriers and benefits of the development of sport in emerging nations and its role in the economic development of developing countries. This will be helpful in building effective strategies for promotion of sport.


  • To list out the key challenges resulting into slow development of sport activities within the emerging countries such as Africa.
  • To explore the benefits of sport development activities in the nation in terms of economic growth and prosperity.
  • To recommend key strategies to increase the pace of sport development in emerging countries like Africa.

Organization of the study

Chapter 1- Introduction

Chapter 2- Literature Review

Chapter 3- Methodology

Chapter 4- Data analysis and discussion

Chapter 5- Findings and conclusion

Literature Review


In this chapter, the literature and the research published related to the sport development activities and economic growth of the developing countries has been reviewed. The recent literature and journal articles have been selected and there is no review of any article published before the year 2016. The literature review will be focused on the meaning as well as importance of sport for development within the countries.

Importance of sport for overall development

Sport development is about the promotion and participation in the opportunities related to sport activities. Participation in physical activities, as well as sport, spans a wide range of contexts along with the wholesomeness connected with the freedom of the children to play and make their career in this field. Sport plays an important role in the overall development of the individual as well as the nation. The opportunity of participating in as well as enjoying the sport is a human right as per the Charter for the Physical Education and Sport adopted by UNESCO in the year 1978 (Dai and Menhas, 2020). The sport ensures the learning, development as well as engagement of the youth irrespective of their culture, gender, age as well as ethnicity. There are numerous benefits of sport such as physical as well as mental health development, confidence building, leadership abilities as well as attitude of teamwork development. On a larger scale, sport activities also help people in enhancing social inclusion as well as harmony. It also promotes equal opportunities for men and women as well as people with certain disabilities. Across the globe, athletic and sport competitions activate the collective spirit among the participants that increase the community participation among the children as well as youth. Due to the increasing benefits of sport activities for individuals and the nation, this activity has also been linked to the Millennium Development Goals.

According to Schellhorn et al. (2020), sport for the social development within a country is the approach for bringing about social change with the help of these sport activities. These sport development activities can be helpful in improving the lifelong skills among children; they can empower women as well as other communities and can prove to be helpful in eliminating discrimination. This sport development activity can be an effective tool to reach the community as well as personal goals. As per the view of Sanni et al. (2018), sport can be helpful in educational development as sport and physical education have a direct impact on the education of the students. Physical activities are considered vital for the holistic development of adults, fostering their social, emotional as well as physical health.

The sport activity provides the forum for the adults to learn to deal with the competition and cope up with both losing and winning situations. Physical education is also fundamental to the early development of the youth and child (Kaewchuay and Choudam, 2021). Through participation in physical education and sport events, key values such as fair play, honesty, teamwork, leadership abilities as well as adherence to the rules can be developed. Apart from education, the sport is also a powerful activity helping the individuals in their personal and life skills development. Just as philosophy plays an important role in developing the spiritual, emotional as well as intellectual aspects of an individual, sport help people in developing their physical aspects. The sport not only benefits the physical aspects of the human body but also builds character, analytical thinking critical thinking skills as well as risk-taking abilities. There are five components of fitness that are developed by the participants in physical activities. These aspects include speed, skills, strength, flexibility as well as stamina. The benefits of engaging in physical activities for the individual include the clarity of mind, development of motor skills, improved sleeping patterns, and reduced risk of non-communicable diseases as well as a reduction in the levels of anxiety. As per the research conducted by Pradipta and Dewantoro (2019), the sport is also considered highly beneficial for health development. The World Health Organization has indicated in its report that morbidity, mortality as well as disability are featured as the major and common non-communicable diseases and they are also accounted for the 60% of the deaths. The leading causes behind these diseases are physical inactivity as well as an unhealthy diet (Herbold, et al., 2020). Sport and physical activities are as crucial for life-long healthy living as they can improve the health and well-being of an individual, extend the life expectancy as well as reduce the occurrence of different non-communicable diseases in the human body.

Underdevelopment of sport in developing countries

The research performed by Berliana et al. (2021) indicates that there is a lower investment of money by the developing nations as compared to the developing countries in sport activities and events. The main cause behind such low investment can be the lower priority of the sport development activities in the national budget as well as in the education system of most of the developing countries. The studies performed by Zeng (2020) also stated that a vicious cycle is emerging as the result of the underdeveloped sport activities in developing nations. This lower investment in sport events and development activities also decreases the potential for the sport person and athletes to build their talent effectively. It further also means that there are very limited prospects for the athletes to continue pursuing their career in the sport as well as to continue their sport training in a developing country (Herbold, et al., 2020).

As per the views of Ying (2018), there are various crucial factors for why the emerging countries do not have a standard and developed sporting sector as compared to the developed nations. There can be various reasons such as the role models, media coverage, and investment in sport, gender equality as well as common sport facilities for the athletes. As per the research performed by Herbold et al. (2020), “We do not want goals, we want beans” was painted on a stadium in Mexico during the Football World Cup in the year 1986. Through this sentence, the economic dilemma was highlighted that is required to be coping up by the sport in the developing nations. The sport teams, as well as events, cannot successfully make the people forget about poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment as well as hunger. No matter what is published in the policy declarations by the government of any nation, sport is neither a preference in the state budget nor a pillar of the education system within a developing country. Any evaluation or assessment related to the sport economy within the developing nations is also hindered by the missing information: the lower the level of the economic development of a nation, the lower the availability of the statistical data regarding the sport (Wang, 2021).

As per the survey conducted by UNESCO to thirty-two African least developed nations, with a 50% of the response rate, it was highlighted that one country had no physical education or sport period scheduled in their primary schools, three of these countries had scheduled a fixed one hour per week and the other 12 nations had scheduled two and three hours for physical education per week. In all the sampled nations, nearly 2 or four hours were scheduled per week in the secondary schools for physical education. The main reasons behind these limited and insufficient hours dedicated to sport education are shortage of sport teachers as compared to the number of students, a lack of sport equipment and facilities as well as lack of vocational training to upgrade the qualification of the existing sport teachers (Ajadi, et al., 2017).

In developing nations, the level of sport participation is quite low which is measured by the ratio between the affiliated members to sport federations as well as the number of the inhabitants. Moreover, an increased number of participants are concentrated in very limited sport, which are mainly determined by the existence and availability of the sport equipment and facilities. As per the research performed by Heydari et al. (2021), the main sponsor, as well as a benefactor of the sporting activities within the developing countries, is the government. Approximately, 80% of the African LFCs do subsidize the sport federations but accept the sport of football, the amount of the subsidies is very low to even secure the physical and sport activities all year along (Dai and Menhas, 2020). Moreover, there has been a dramatic increment in the number of students within the schools in developing nations. It has exhausted all the budgetary abilities and capacities required for the funding of sport practices within the schools or elsewhere.

One of the main reasons behind the underdeveloped sport activities in the developing nations is the few sport facilities as well as infrastructure in the schools. There is a lack of comprehensive information available regarding the stadiums, sport facilities, games equipment as well as playgrounds. Since there are limited facilities related to the sport activities, they need to cater to a large number of potential participants. In developing nations, it has also been identified that the sport facilities are not maintained at all and the main cause is the insuperable financial costs (Berliana, et al., 2021). As per the research performed by Herbold et al. (2020), sport performance is associated with the economic development of the nation. A number of publications have also attempted to highlight that the economic determinants of a nation's performance in sport actually matter a lot.

Sport development and economic growth in the developing nations

As per the research conducted by Ajadi et al. (2017), there is a strong relationship between the level of economic development in any nation as well as the level of sporting development in such a country. Specifically, the emerging or the developing nations are plagued with the lack of physical and sport education as well as sport events. Moreover, there is also a shortage of financing for the sport activities and there are very limited facilities and equipment for the sport. They also lack the capacity of hosting major events due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure. According to the estimation made by an ordered-logit model, it has been identified that the probability for a nation to win the medals at Olympics increases with the population as well as the gross domestic product per capita. On a totally different side, sport and physical education in the Third world cannot escape to multinational sponsors, professionalism, media, corruption as well as to the relocation of the industry related to sport goods and equipment to the low-cost labor areas (Schellhorn, et al., 2020).

It has been identified that the only basic recipe identified against sporting underdevelopment is economic development. However, there are various other solutions as well as the strategies in place such as the efforts made by UNESCO in favor of sport and physical education in the primary as well as secondary schools, sport for all as well as the traditional games in the developing nations, the help from the foreign countries for the participation in the sport events held internationally. In the year 2018, the World Health Organization prepared a global action plan in order to increase the amount of physical and sport activities worldwide. World Health Organization is planning to create a healthier world by the end of the year 2030 (Kaewchuay and Choudam, 2021). World Health Organization is also focused on creating opportunities for middle-aged adults, women as well as people with disabilities in sport activities. It has been identified that currently approximately 25% of the adults and 75% of the children are not satisfying the global standards for physical activities (Moyo and Monkwe, 2017). There is a requirement of adopting the right strategies for the development of sport and physical education in developing nations to also ensure the long-term economic development of such a country.


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