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28 Jun 2021 | 16:16

The Sport for Development Coalition contributed to the World Health Organisation’s ‘ReINVENT and ReBUILD’ webinar series which has been examining how organisations can work together to create a 'stronger and fairer physical activity and sport system for all’. 

Ollie Dudfield, Executive Director for the Coalition, helped to lead one of eight webinars in the series, which was titled ‘Hidden in plain sight: Realising the full potential of civil society’.

The webinar discussed what actions are needed for civil society organisations to strengthen and scale the provision of sport and physical activity opportunities to achieve greater health and social impact. It also considered how to strengthen the sector given its heterogenous nature, vulnerability to funding and evolving policy developments. 

The webinar was chaired by Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit at WHO, and appearing alongside her and Ollie was Adam Fraser, CEO of Laureus Sport for Good; Rita Larok, Chief of Party for the AVSI (Association of Volunteers in International Service) Foundation; and Michael McWhinney, Manager for the Indigenous Sports Unit at Sport Canada. 

The pandemic has increased global awareness of physical activity’s importance for mental and physical health, yet it has also revealed and accelerated widening inequities.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) says now is the time to use Covid-19 as a catalyst for change and reinvent a stronger and fairer physical activity and sport system for all. Through a series of eight webinars, featuring panellists from the physical activity and sport system, it has been exploring different approaches to achieving this goal. Each webinar also featured a question and answer session.

In this webinar, Ollie explains how the use of sport for development is "not at scale". He says: "There is a real potential to mobilise more, and a wider range of (actors in) the civil society world, and to embed sport and physical activity in their programming."

WHO webinar

"We need to a step back and say what level of investment is directly at the delivery (level) - human, financial, workforce investment - and what is trying to build that sustainable system - at neighbourhood, place, system, national or international level. Because then we are not waiting from one investment to the next, we have a system which is able to scale through mobilising civil society and the wide range of actors who have a key role to play in embedding and mainstreaming sport and physical activity in order to realise the return of investment this can bring." 

Fiona adds: "The 'mind shift' is about how we invest in this, and how we think about sport; so a mind shift in seeing its full potential. And not just double returns (on investment), but multiple returns. We need a mind shift in how we invest; we are investing to see a return and a saving, not a cost."

The webinars continue the conversation started in April 2021, during a webinar to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Click here to watch the initial webinar, and read a blog from Fiona Bull, written for the Coalition.