Exploring the impact of sport participation in the Homeless World Cup on individuals with substance abuse or mental health disorders
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Sherry, E. & O''May, F. (2013) Exploring the impact of sport participation in the Homeless World Cup on individuals with substance abuse or mental health disorders, Journal of Sport for Development, vol. 1, , ,
Objective To explore the role of the relationship between sport and social capital in negotiating improved social outcomes for homeless individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues. Method A qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 27 participants of the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup (eight from Scotland and 19 from Australia). Interview questions focussed on the participants' interest of and participation in sport; factors influencing participation; any changes perceived by the individuals as a result of program participation; and in order to identify changes pre and post event, any current experiences of social exclusion. Results The role of social capital in mental health and substance abuse outcomes is addressed by the authors, in addition to the contribution of sport to the building of social capital. Conclusion Findings suggest that sport initially provided social bonding within a limited social network, yet over time other types of social capital (bridging and linking) were exhibited by participants, and enabled access to ancillary services provided by the program that led to reductions or cessation of both substance abuse and symptoms of mental illness. Implications Sport can provide an effective vehicle for the accrual of social capital, which may positively impact the mental health and substance abuse patterns of participants from marginalised and at-risk communities.