Establishing and delivering sport and physical activity to rural youth communities across Europe: practical learning through ‘fire soul’ stories

Grecic, David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1487-8327, Simões, Paula, Žlibinaitė, Laura, Piščalkienė, Viktorija, Mattila, Marita, Tuuva-Hongisto, Sari, Amoroso, José Pedro and Christodoulides, Efstathios (2023) Establishing and delivering sport and physical activity to rural youth communities across Europe: practical learning through ‘fire soul’ stories. Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies, 17 (1). pp. 187-222. ISSN 1754-2375

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Abstract

Low levels of youth sport and physical activity is a concern across the world
with many strategies implemented to promote its positive benefits and
correlation to young people’s health and wellbeing. Little data exist on the
specific context of establishing and developing sport and physical activity in
rural areas, nor on the role undertaken by social actors working to facilitate this
within their local communities; the ‘fire souls’. The study’s purpose therefore
was to learn more about FS’ work in rural areas, especially relating to activities
targeting children and young people, and provide practical insight to guide
similar projects in other rural European settings. A qualitative narrative study
was conducted that interviewed 42 Fire Souls in 7 European countries using
the ‘Freytag Pyramid’ structure. Following Framework Thematic Analysis the
higher order themes; Motivation to make a difference, Challenges to start and
maintain, and Overcoming Issues and Maximising Resources were identified.
Findings support previous research exploring worker motivation and
emphasise the positive role of sport and physical activity in supporting local
communities’ health, well-being, and cohesion. The study provides original
multi-country, multi-site and multi-activity insights, as well as practical
learnings to guide future Sport for Development work in rural settings.


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