Producing Knowledge in Sport for Development
: an Examination of Monitoring and Evaluation Practices

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In recent years, the use of sport in international development contexts has been gaining traction because of a rhetoric around the intrinsic benefits of sport. This sector, named Sport for Development, generated debates about the forms in which such initiatives are monitored and evaluated. These debates raise concerns about the inconsistencies in terms of monitoring & evaluation which can also reinforce unequal power relations. This PhD thesis provides a major contribution to these debates by focusing on the practices of monitoring & evaluation in Sport for Development. This PhD thesis relies on fieldwork conducted from September 2019 to June 2021 at TackleAfrica, an organisation that delivers sexual health education through the use of football drills. Fieldwork was conducted through a multi-sited organisational ethnographic approach that consisted of a mix of face-to-face and remote fieldwork with the researcher taking an active part in the organisation’s monitoring & evaluation. This PhD thesis shows how Sport for Development organisations are made of a multiplicity of agents with complementary and exclusive rationalities and interests. The various actors within an organisation are wholly unaware of each other’s active agency in producing knowledge through monitoring & evaluation data. Yet, monitoring & evaluation practices constitute a juxtaposition of multiple agencies, interests, and rationalities that are dependent on different practitioners’ roles within Sport for Development organisations. The philosophies underpinning monitoring & evaluation policy and practice are dependent on discursive alignments in the Sport for Development sector and are the subject of constant struggle, negotiation, and shifts. The examination of these struggles shows how traditional quantitative monitoring & evaluation is particularly subject to concealing the processes of knowledge production behind the rhetoric of technical rationality. However, the over-representation of Eurocentric perspectives – at the interpersonal and structural levels – in the definition of what monitoring & evaluation ought to be makes Sport for Development an active vehicle of epistemic coloniality. The linguistic assumptions found within Sport for Development’s monitoring & evaluation reinforce the status of colonial languages as a vector of socioeconomic promotion and as the legitimate languages of knowledge production. These findings, in light of Sport for Development’s stated goals in terms of social transformation, indicate there needs to be a thorough reconsideration of the monitoring & evaluation project across the sector. Such a reconsideration must question the structure of the Sport for Development constellation.
Date of AwardJun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorAlexandra Sawyer (Supervisor), Thomas Carter (Supervisor) & Nigel Sherriff (Supervisor)


  • Sport for Development (SfD)
  • Evaluation
  • Epistemology
  • Practices
  • knowledge

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