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Good governance in grassroots sport: sportanddev interview


by Usha Selvaraju,

sportanddev asked ISCA and Sport & Citizenship about their perspectives on good governance in grassroots sport. In an exclusive interview sportanddev talks to ISCA's Secretary General, Jacob Schouenborg, and Sport & Citizenship's Director, Julian Jappert to find out more.

sportanddev asks ISCA and one of their partners - Sport & Citizenship - about good governance in grassroots sport. The two organisations have just entered a partnership to investigate this issue, along with a number of other actors.

Find out more about the Good Governance in Grassroots Sport partnership >>>.

sportanddev talks to ISCA's Secretary General, Jacob Schouenborg, and Sport & Citizenship's Director, Julian Jappert, in an exclusive interview on the topic of 'good governance in grassroots sport'.


sportanddev: What does ‘good governance’ mean to you?

Jacob Schouenborg, ISCA: Good Governance is historically linked to the process of "public institutions conducting public affairs and managing public resources in order to guarantee the realization of human rights" (UNESCAP, 2009). I would say that the fundamental components of good governance are equally important to NGOs and in particular grassroot sport NGOs, such as the ones ISCA represents.

Julian Jappert, Sport & Citizenship: Good governance means recognising the specificity and values of sport, as well as addressing its failures. It means gaining an awareness of its positive impact and its role in European society. The guiding principles of good governance are transparency, democracy, efficient management, responsibility, cooperation, representativeness and ethics.


sportanddev: Why are ISCA and Sport and Citizenship focusing on good governance in grassroots sport rather than professional sport?

Jacob Schouenborg, ISCA: There is already a lot of attention focused on good governance issues in professional sport. We believe it important for the grassroots sport sector to address issues of good governance occurring in their realities. ISCA hopes to contribute to this. If grassroots sport organisations are not governed in an appropriate and legitimate way, they will not only lose their reputation, but also credibility, societal legitimacy, membership and public financial support.

Julian Jappert, Sport & Citizenship: We share ISCA’s opinion that good governance in grassroots sport is a prerequisite for organizational legitimacy and ultimately survival. If grassroots sport, with its most significant financial contributions stemming from individual members and public authorities, is not governed in an appropriate and legitimate way, it will lose not only reputation-wise, but also in terms of its continued support when it comes to membership and public financial support.



sportanddev: The Good Governance in Grassroots Sport project aims to tackle fundamental problems in grassroots sport such as financial stability and relations with public authorities. How will the project tackle these issues on a practical level?

Jacob Schouenborg, ISCA: We will identify practices and challenges in grassroots organisations' everyday work with governance, and we will discuss them and challenge the existing models of governance. We will deliver an education programme that aims to empower grassroots sport organisations' leaders to change their governance structures from within.

Julian Jappert, Sport & Citizenship: In practice the project will aim at addressing two central aspects of governance in grassroots sport organizations in Europe today: relations to Public Authorities and coping with financial risk. To do this, the project will:

  • increase the evidence and knowledge base for good governance in grassroots sport in Europe,
  • build capacities in key national non-governmental grassroots sport organizations,
  • increase awareness and outreach on good governance to a broad target group in grassroots sport.





sportanddev: To what extent do you think the best practice in good governance in Europe be useful to developing good governance in grassroot sport in developing countries?

Jacob Schouenborg, ISCA: I believe the principles behind the concept of good governance, including transparency and accountability, and ultimately democracy, are values of great importance also in developing countries. We do not aim to define one model of good governance, but to provide knowledge and possibilities for exchange on existing practises of governance in grassroots sport. I believe this platform could have substantial value also in developing countries. Their organisational survival long term may indeed depend on it.

Julian Jappert, Sport & Citizenship: Even though cultural background may shape sport organisations differently throughout the world, there is no doubt that the key aspects of good governance are universal. We believe that if we manage to identify best practices throughout Europe they might serve as a general framework for grassroots sport abroad.

More information


Posted on 09/01/2012 by


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