Playing to win or playing for empowerment? An analysis of a Namibian team participating in the Norway Cup-project
In recent years, the value of sport as an important and useful tool in peace and development work has been increasingly recognized. The Norway Cup-project is one of Norway’s largest sport for development projects, and uses the Norway Cup-tournament as an arena for teams from developing countries to strengthen projects in their home communities through empowerment of the participants. This thesis seeks to discover what effect participating in this project has had on a boys-team from Namibia (2006). Through a qualitative research design, I have examined whether there was accordance between the goals of different levels on the Norwegian and Namibian sides. Another significant aspect examined is to what extent sport can be seen as a ‘universal language’. Related issues addressed are whether children’s sport is understood in the same way in both countries, and to what extent such a project has uniting or dividing effects. Furthermore, it is discussed if the project is designed in such a way that a prospective mutual gain is addressed, or whether bringing the teams to Norway as part of a development project enhances the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’. An essential factor to address is that it deals with young participants. This thesis attends to the question of whether this can have empowering effects on the youth in question, or if it can result in feelings of learnt helplessness upon their return. Additionally, it is discussed whether their prospective empowerment has benefited the community at large. I conclude that the objectives for participation vary more from the official goal the further towards the ‘grassroots’ you go. The initial aims and the way in which the team was selected, is argued to have a significant influence on what is emphasized in later stages of the project. Football turns out to be a ‘universal language’ with different dialects, as ‘competition’ and ‘play’ are emphasized to different degrees by the two parties. Participation is argued to have had certain empowering effects on an individual level, but these effects do not seem to have been transferred from individual to community level to a great degree.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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