“More Than a Game”: The Impact of Sport-Based Youth Mentoring Schemes on Developing Resilience toward Violent Extremism

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

“More Than a Game”: The Impact of Sport-Based Youth Mentoring Schemes on Developing Resilience toward Violent Extremism


  • Amelia Johns Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Australia
  • Michele Grossman Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University, Australia
  • Kevin McDonald Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University, UK


Abstract  This paper draws upon the findings of an evaluation of “More than a Game”, a sport-focused youth mentoring program in Melbourne, Australia that aimed to develop a community-based resilience model using team-based sports to address issues of identity, belonging, and cultural isolation amongst young Muslim men in order to counter forms of violent extremism. In this essay we focus specifically on whether the intense embodied encounters and emotions experienced in team sports can help break down barriers of cultural and religious difference between young people and facilitate experiences of resilience, mutual respect, trust, social inclusion and belonging. Whilst the project findings are directly relevant to the domain of countering violent extremism, they also contribute to a growing body of literature which considers the relationship between team-based sport, cross-cultural engagement and the development of social resilience, inclusion and belonging in other domains of youth engagement and community-building.


Keywords  AFL; belonging; community resilience; countering violent extremism; counterterrorism; football; Muslim Australians; social inclusion; social networks; sport; violence reduction


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/si.v2i2.167