In the field of development the relationship between development and sport has for the most part been ignored (Beacom 2007, Levermore 2008). When it has been discussed it occurs in a way whereby ‘sport is seen as a by-product of development not as an engine’ (United Nations 2006 cited in Levermore 2008:184). While conceptualisations of the sport and development relationship have begun to emerge, as noted in recent United Nations documents (also see AusAid 2008), an argument
persists that the use of sport for development remains unproven (World Bank 2006).
In keeping with post-development thinking which seeks to explore differing visions
and expressions of development and by taking a strengths-based approach to the sport and development nexus, this paper considers critically the notion of sport as an engine of development. We will focus specifically on the role of rugby league, the NRL, and the Pacific region in relation to community development, youth development and crime prevention, health promotion and prevention, in particular HIV/AIDS and family violence, and economic opportunities and poverty alleviation.