Sports and Development

Wednesday 6th April, is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This article looks at the tip of of the social economic benefits of sports. A lesson from the USA and EU.

In 2003, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace defined sport, (for the purposes of development), as “all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction, such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sport, and indigenous sports and games.”

Sports has since time immemorial played a crucial role in many different societies all over the world, be it physical activities, competitive sport or simple casual play.

Sport and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced at all levels of society including schools and homes. Therefore every person should have a chance to engage in sports.

Back in the 80s and 90s we used to play different types of games during break time and lunch time at school. We could even miss meals but were not really bothered because we could catch the meal later (at home) but not the game. Remember practice makes perfect, so when it came to time for interclass, inter house & interschool sports competitions it was much easier to choose the best, who would compete favourably even up to the highest level. Remember John Akiibua (athletics), Godfrey Nyakana & Justin Juuko (boxing), to mention but a few.

In Uganda today, some students miss out on the benefits of sports since their schools do not have the amenities to support sports. The challenges , that limit active sports in schools include;

  • Lack of  play grounds where students can go for P.E (Physical Education) and other forms of sports ( mainly in urban schools).
  • Lack of sports equipment. Besides balls made out of banana fiber, you will not find find any sports equipment in most rural schools in Uganda.
  • Over concentration on academics.Due to academic pressures, some schools do not pay much attention to sports and do not actively participate in the various school sports competitions.

No wonder the quality of Uganda’s sports personalities has dropped in different competitions. This has happened at a time when there is increased money being pumped into the sports industry and therefore many Ugandans and Uganda as country  loses out on such opportunities.

According to economic in their post by Gwen Burrow published on Tuesday 09th July 2013, & titled “Not Just a Game: The Impact of Sports on U.S. Economy” (, the sports industry roughly contributed $14.3 billion in earnings per year, providing 456,000 jobs with an average salary of $39,000 per job.

According to in their blog post Published on Thursday, 15 January 2015 titled “The contribution of sport to economic growth and employment in Europe” (, the sports sector contributes about € 175 billion to the European economy which is more than agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined. If you add all the sectors that are influenced by sports, the share of sports at the European GVA is almost € 300 billion.

Note : GVA (Gross Value Added) = Gross Domestic Product + subsidies – (direct, sales) taxes).

Employment opportunities in the sports industry

  • Athletes & sports competitors
  • Coaches & scouts , Umpires, referees, and other sports officials
  • Entertainers & performers, sports & related workers, all
  • Gaming & sports book writers and runners
  • Agents & business managers of artists, performers, and athletes
  • Construction of sports facilities

That means you don’t have to be an active competitor to earn from sports.

Construction of sports facilities is infrastructural development; it creates jobs for the construction workers and later the employees in these facilities. The construction of Mandela National Stadium in Namboole (Uganda), for example, led to development of the Namboole area with more access roads, residential houses, hotels, schools, and a vibrant town with commercial activity which contribute to the economic survival of the inhabitants.

Many sports personalities work as good will ambassadors, brand faces etc for different companies, organisations, and products, from which they earn big. Many have set up foundations like Kanu heart foundation which helps heart patients

Let each of us make a contribution to activities that will promote sports in our communities. Do not undermine your input, it will work for the greater good. This will prepare our youths and nation to enjoy the social economic benefits associated with sports.


Written By

Walusimbi John, Lead ICT Trainer



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