Playing with a purpose : an ethnographic study of a sport-for-development programme in Mbekweni

Grundlingh, Susanna Maria (2011-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: There has been a concerted effort by government departments and sport-for-development non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to use sport as a vehicle for sustainable social development in previously disadvantaged areas in South Africa. South Africa, considered to be a developing country and also a country where sporting achievement and excellence is venerated, brings to the fore an intriguing intersection between sport and development. The exponential growth of the sport-for-development field in the past two decades, both on an international and local level, bears witness to the fact that sport has come to be seen as an instrument facilitating development among children and youth in historically disadvantaged regions in South Africa. International aid organisations, such as the United Nations and an array of sport-for-development NGOs are at the forefront of using sport as a vehicle for development purposes. It is against this brief background that this thesis investigates the relationship between sport and development. The research question that underpins this study is: What is the relationship between sport and development, but more specifically, how do adolescent black girls, experience being part of a sport-for-development program at the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre (MCSC)? This relationship is interrogated by drawing on fieldwork conducted at the MCSC amongst participants of the Women and Girls in Leadership (WGILS) sport-for-development program over a six month period. WGILS is a sport-for-development program that caters for the sporting needs of adolescent girls in Mbekweni, by providing them with sporting opportunities and life skill sessions. The WGILS program is operated by a sport-for-development NGO, SCORE in partnership with a UK charity, Hope Through Action (HTA). Hope Through Action is the charity responsible for building the nine million Rand Mbekweni Community Sport Centre in Mbekweni, a township 60km north of Cape Town. The central argument of this dissertation is that sport itself does not facilitate development, but serves as a point of entry for development work. I suggest that sport in this sense is a viable vehicle for development, as it creates conditions where social networks, meaningful relationships and norms of trust and reciprocity (antecedents of social capital) can prevail. The theoretical lens used to make sense of my six month field work period is that of social capital. In the classical sense social capital is thought to be an asset for the elite and wealthy, but this dissertation shows that there is a nuanced manner in which social capital shifts and is tapped into by black adolescent girls through a sport-for-development program in a township setting. In this respect social capital is malleable and used in a variety of ways for different purposes as a means to culminate trusting relationships and acts of reciprocity. Social capital is therefore not necessarily a static and unchanging concept and will vary considerably across space and time. The dynamics of this process are evident throughout the thesis.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar bestaan 'n volgehoue poging deur regeringsdepartemente en spor –vir-ontwikkeling nie-regeringsorganisasies (NRO) om sport as 'n middel tot volhoubare sosiale ontwikkeling in voorheen benadeelde areas in Suid-Afrika aan te wend. Suid-Afrika wat as 'n ontwikkelende land beskou word en ook as 'n land waar sportprestasies en uitmuntendheid in sport hoog aangeslaan word, open 'n fassinerende interaksie tussen sport en ontwikkeling. Die vinnige groei van sport-vir-ontwikkeling die afgelope twee dekades op 'n internasionale sowel as nasionale vlak is tekenend daarvan dat sport as 'n instrument beskou word om ontwikkeling van kinders en die jeug in histories agtergeblewe streke te bevorder. Internasionale hulp organisasies soos die Verenigde Volkere en 'n verskeidenheid sport-vir- ontwikkeling NRO is op die voorpunt om sport op 'n opheffende wyse aan te wend. Dit is teen hierdie agtergrond dat die verhandeling poog om die verband tussen sport en ontwikkeling te ondersoek. Die kernvraag onderliggend aan die verhandeling is: wat is die verband tussen sport en ontwikkeling en meer spesifiek hoe ervaar jong swart meisies deelname aan die sport-vir-ontwikkeling program by die Mbekweni Gemeenskap Sportsentrum? Die verband word ondersoek deur middel van veldwerk wat by die sentrum oor 'n periode van ses maande gedoen is onder die deelnemers aan 'n sport-vir-ontwikkeling projek onder die vaandel van “Women and Girls in Leadership”(WGILS). WGILS maak voorsiening vir sport behoeftes van adolessente meisies in Mbekweni deur hulle sportgeleenthede te bied asook en lewensvaardighede sessies. Die program word geldelik gedryf deur die NRO, SCORE in samewerking met die Britse liefdadigheidsorganisasie, “Hope Through Action”. Laasgenoemde was verantwoordelik vir die bou van die nege miljoen rand Mbekweni Gemeenskap Sportsentrum in Mbekweni, 'n swart woonbuurt 60 km noord van Kaapstad. Die sentrale argument van die verhandeling is dat sport as sodanig nie ontwikkeling fasiliteer nie, maar wel as 'n beginpunt vir ontwikkelingswerk kan dien. Daar word gesuggereer dat sport op die wyse as 'n lewensvatbare instelling ter bevordering van ontwikkeling ingespan kan word aangesien dit die omstandighede skep waarbinne sosiale netwerke, betekenisvolle verhoudings en norme van betroubaarheid en wederkerigheid (voorlopers van sosiale kapitaal) kan gedy. Die teoretiese lens waardeur ek gepoog het om van die veldwerk sin te maak was dié van sosiale kapitaal. In die klassieke sin word sosiale kapitaal beskou as die prerogatief van die elite en welvarendes, maar die verhandeling demonstreer dat sosiale kapitaal op 'n genuanseerde wyse kan verskuif om jeugdige meisies in 'n sport-vir-ontwikkeling program in 'n swart woonbuurt te betrek. In die opsig kan sosiale kapitaal as aanpasbaar beskou word en met verskillende oogmerke aangewend word om vertrouensverhoudinge te stig en wederkerige dade te bewerkstellig. Sosiale kapitaal is derhalwe nie noodwendig 'n statiese en onveranderbare konsep nie, en kan oor tyd en plek aansienlik gewysig word. Die dinamika van die prosesse word deurgaans in die verhandeling aangetoon.

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