DisSPA network

Rationale for the network and further information

Contemporary awareness of the importance of high-quality sporting opportunities for disabled people is on the increase. Internationally, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly outlines how organisations responsible for the provision of sport and physical activity must take appropriate measures to encourage and promote increased participation of disabled people. This view is also solidified within the EU (e.g. the European Union 2017), The Work Plan for Sport 2017–2020) and UK sport policy (e.g. Uniting the Movement’ (2021-2031). Yet, despite these policies, disabled people still face numerous barriers to sport and physical activity that contribute to their physical inactivity (Sport England, 2021). Hence, the central aim of these policies is to move disabled people1 from their current position at the margins of sport to the forefront of inclusive practices.

Delivering such important social policy can only be achieved by organisations with a sporting remit, such as universities, disability organisations, sport governing bodies, education institutions, charities and private companies, working together to expand opportunities for participation and performance by encouraging a clear focus on the development of a skilled and confident workforce (Hammond et al., 2019). Arguably, this work force should consist of sport coaches, physical education teachers, sport science practitioners and managers and administrators. In other words, there needs to be a clearer link between activism, social policy, interventions (e.g. educational and inclusive opportunities) and evaluation (Townsend et al., 2021). Exploring this link is important because it is only through interdisciplinary research and collaboration with disabled people that their needs can be understood and addressed.


Hammond, A.M., Penney, D. and Jeanes, R. (2019) Sport coaches as policy actors: An investigation of the interpretation and enactment of disability and inclusion policy in swimming in Victoria Australia. Sport, Education and Society.

Sport England (2021) Movement, U., 2021. Uniting the Movement | Sport England. [online] Sport England. Available at: https://www.sportengland.org/why-were-here/uniting-the-movement

Townsend, R.C. and Cushion, C.J. (2021) ‘Put that in your f*****g research’: reflexivity, ethnography and disability sport coaching. Qualitative Research, 21(2), pp.251-267.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) | United Nations Enable. [online] Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html