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Sports Participation Improves Educational Outcomes and New Skill Development

A recent March 2019 study, Getting Into the Game: Understanding the Evidence for Child-Focused Sport for Development, has shown a correlation between children engaging in sports and factors such as increased educational outcomes, greater social inclusion, increased child protection, and learning new skills. The study was conducted by UNICEF and the Barca Foundation.


The study focused on Sport for Development (S4D) organizations, which are entities that serve a variety of purposes through sport such as improving health, developing physical abilities, encouraging teamwork, promoting educational outcomes, or simply having fun. The study’s findings were informed through over 100 literature article reviews, mapping of available evidence, and surveys of S4D programs. The survey included participation from 106 S4D programs, mostly located in Africa, from a global sample of 2985 identified programs. The survey participants were selected to ensure proportionality and similarity with the global sample in order to generalize results and findings.

Sports participation allows children to learn in safe spaces, fostering a sense of trust, inclusion, and teamwork.
Sports participation allows children to learn in safe spaces, fostering a sense of trust, inclusion, and teamwork.

Key Findings

The study divided its findings into four key areas:

  • Education: Successful programs facilitate a positive teaching and learning environment, focusing on skills such as problem identification, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The appointment and training of qualified educators to lead these initiatives is paramount.
  • Social Inclusion: S4D programs should include team-based sports that are participatory to the extent that they adapt to the needs of all children. The creation of supportive and participatory environments that recognize accomplishments should improve social inclusion outcomes.
  • Child Protection: By creating safe and secure spaces, children can learn conflict-resolution techniques and skills that will ultimately encourage cooperative behavior.
  • Empowerment: Sports programs encourage mastery-based learning. Additionally, children learn civic engagement skills through eliciting the participation of families and communities.


A second phase of research will take place in 2019. To read more about the summary or details of the study, please click here.

This article is available and can be accessed in Spanish here.

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Wallace Ting
Dr. Wallace Ting is an experienced teacher, Principal, School Director, and University-level Researcher who has worked in Texas, New York City, Colombia, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Florida. He helped co-found SchoolRubric and serves in an advisory role for the non-profit organization. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida with his young son, Phillip.

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