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25 Apr 2023 | 0:00

April 6th marked the UN's International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, so Coalition members came together to provide a powerful demonstration of how their collective work is contributing to the national policy priorities highlighted by the #OpenGoal framework. 

The framework has been co-designed by members of the Coalition to show how sport and physical-activity-based interventions across their UK-wide network are helping to address a series of health and societal inequalities, for example across mental and physical wellbeing, employment and education, criminal justice and community cohesion. Investing in sport for development can help policy-makers to save public funding, especially in communities facing the greatest disadvantage and deprivation. 


The #OpenGoal framework was launched on April 6th 2022 so one year on Coalition members marked the anniversary by sharing their work online and across social media using the hashtag. The Coalition hosted a live blog on its website to showcase the activity, and also published its first #OpenGoal annual report

Some of the highlights included: 

  • Former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, teaming up with Paralympic champion Susie Rodgers MBE and Sky Sports presenter and ex-footballer Jobi McAnuff, to support the anniversary. Lawrence, who founded Coalition member Dallaglio RugbyWorks, helped to launch #OpenGoal in 2022 and he said: “It’s been an amazing year for the Coalition with growing recognition of the value of investing in sport-based projects which can prove how they can help to solve some of society’s most pressing pressing problems.”  
  • There was also support for #OpenGoal from Olympic gold medallist Adam Peaty in this article from Coalition member network Sported. He said: “Sport offers so much. As soon as you take that sport and that investment in sport away, you’re going to be paying that in other ways: people’s health, the NHS, people’s mental health. So you might as well make the investment now.” 
  • National governing bodies also showed their support for #OpenGoal. Check out this excellent Boccia England video showing how the sport is contributing to the 'Improved health & wellbeing' area of the framework, while in the build-up to April 6th British Gymnastics announced it was joining the Coalition following the publication of its new ‘Leap Without Limits’ strategy. Andy Dodd, Communications & Engagement Director, explained: "Our sport has a real opportunity to change lives, enrich and connect communities... joining the Sport for Development Coalition is very much a reflection of that." The Coalition also spoke to some British Gymnastics member clubs to show how they are supporting local communities through the HAF (Holiday Activities and Food) Active programme.

  • The work of Access Sport (above) aligns with multiple areas of #OpenGoal but to mark the International Day of Sport for Development & Peace day, the charity highlighted how it is contributing to the 'Stronger communities & social cohesion' area of the framework, and is seeking a research partner to support this process.  
  • Active Partnerships is a key network within the Coalition. It comprises 43 Active Partnerships across England and Nicki Couzens, who leads on relationship management, is co-chair for the Coalition's Public Affairs & Advocacy Working Group. Read this article on how Active Partnerships are supporting multiple areas of the framework.

  • There were great words from Peace Players Northern Ireland in support of the #OpenGoal area 'Stronger communities & social cohesion': “We're working to create safe and supportive environments where all young people can participate in sport and build the skills and confidence they need to success on and off the court. We believe that sport has a power to break down barriers and bring people together, and we're committed to using it as a tool for social change. Together we can build a more peaceful and inclusive world through sport." 
  • There was also powerful testimony from StreetGames CEO Mark Lawrie in support of the 'Reducing crime & anti-social behaviour' area of the #OpenGoal framework: “Our research shows that for young people at risk of becoming involved in crime, effectively delivered Doorstep Sport can have a transformational impact on their lives – developing skills, connecting them with diverse, trusted role models, and providing a safe space and sense of belonging. Ongoing engagement in sport and volunteering can support young people onto positive pathways and help to keep them and their communities safe.”
  • Support Through Sport is a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Nottinghamshire, and in this article founder Tranai Todd revealed how it has been funded by the Youth Justice Sport Fund from the Ministry of Justice, led by Coalition members StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice. There was also support for this area of #OpenGoal on the day from young people involved in HMP and YOI Parc in South Wales who also focused on the 'Improved health & wellbeing' aspect of the framework.
  • Youth Sport Trust published this blog highlighting the 'Closing the gap in education & development' area of #OpenGoal, and The Lord's Taverners charity (below) chose the day to showcase it has been supporting multiple areas of the framework, and shared its brilliant impact report. Meanwhile this powerful article from Dame Kelly Holmes Trust demonstrated how it has been supporting #OpenGoal. It read: "With young people today facing a 'perfect storm' - crisis after crisis, our work has never been more important. Recent reports show more than half of young people believe the cost-of-living crisis will have a worse impact of their life than the pandemic." 
  • The Coalition’s core team is grateful for the support of so many network members and partners in spreading the message around #OpenGoal in the lead up to April 6th, including Beyond SportActivity AllianceSport & Recreation AllianceLondon SportThe Richmond Group of CharitiesUK Coaching and London Youth Games. All of the organisations in this article share a common purpose in using sport and physical activity to build a fairer, more equitable and sustainable future - we are definitely stronger together!  
  • The last word goes to Dallaglio RugbyWorks coach Ryan Davies, who wrote this impactful blog in support of the #OpenGoal framework. Having benefitted from the charity’s support, and now working for it as a part-time coach while studying at college, he said: "If you work hard, you can achieve your goals and change the direction of your life even if you have been excluded from school." 


On April 6th, the Coalition also published its first #OpenGoal annual report. The report looks back at the publication of the Coalition's first research report and policy brief 'Moving for Mental Health', and at the second 'Active for Employment', while providing an overview of the recent Youth Justice Sport Fund, led by StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice. Active Humber CEO David Gent also explains the vital role of sport for development in tackling climate change. Read it here. 


Look out for more developments soon on how Coalition members are working together to build impact and advocacy for sport for development. It really is an open goal!