Health and sports for everyone

The project aims to investigate how participation in the sports movement, and thereby the opportunity for physical activity, social relationships and networks, is affected by and is conditional on various factors.

A number of studies will elucidate different perspectives concerning the issue of inclusion and exclusion in the sports movement. The participants are children, parents and voluntary leaders, and both qualitative and quantitative methods are used, including photo-elicitation, photovoice and questionnaires. The project is linked to Agenda 2030, which concerns the right to equal health. The participation of girls is of particular interest, with a specific focus on girls with parents born outside of Europe. The project is also conducting a study about how the coronavirus, and the recommendations issued as a result, affect the sports movement, in particular football.

Girls with parents born outside of Europe play sports to a lesser extent than others. Sport has an important significance in children’s lives. For many it contributes to well-being, creating meaningful activity, daily routines and finding new friends, while at the same time being a source of pleasure and fun where children have an outlet for their energy. Children’s possibilities for choice are determined by their historical and social context, where change is much slower than the child’s own and more rapidly changing preferences. The child themself has a certain amount of freedom to decide about their own life, but the family constitutes their immediate environment. The parents’ experiences, expectations and perceptions can therefore be decisive for how different children will live their lives. The organisation of the sports movement also affects participation, where more or less deliberate mechanisms have implications for who participates and when.

An example of one of the studies in the project:

How parents’ experiences and perceptions of children, health and gender affect participation in Sweden’s multicultural sports movement

Parents’ class background, level of education and cultural affiliation shape their general perceptions of childhood and the extent to which it is seen as a phase of life which has a value in itself, or primarily a period in life when one learns skills in preparation for adulthood. With regard to sport, this can be reflected in the extent to which the actual activity is considered in relation to competitive elements, differences between gender roles, and similar aspects. Since many sports are divided according to gender, but have historical connections to the male gender ideal, girls’ sports are particularly interesting to study.


The study is being conducted using focus group interviews with parents from different cultural backgrounds in order to capture a diversity of experience and perceptions about sports, health, children and gender. The parents are strategically selected to be interviewed in six different groups and they have daughters with lower sports participation than others according to the statistics. Fathers and mothers are interviewed in separate groups of about five people and in either Swedish, Sorani (the most common Kurdish language), Tigrinya or Somali. The interviews are led by moderators with good language skills and are based on the following themes: Own sports experiences and perceptions of childhood, health, and gender, and the Swedish sports movement. The interviews will take place with informed consent and will be anonymised when published.

Social issues to work with in the future

Our education is linked to the UN's 17 global goals for sustainable development. These are goals that you can get tools to work with in the future:

U.N's global goals: Good health and well-beingU.N's global goals: Quality EducationU.N's global goals: Gender equality

About the project:

Project group/collaborators:
Time period: 2018 - ongoing
Research area: Centre for Civil Society Research
Project status: Ongoing

Page information

Last updated:
4 January 2022