Williams, G and Atkinson, D (2009), Are youth being left to play in the dust? An assessment of sports programmes and facilities in a small South African town. Commonwealth Youth and Development, vol. 7(1), pp. 70-84.
Sport programmes are increasingly being incorporated into youth development initiatives. These programmes are thought to ‘add value’ to social development projects. A recent study highlighted the importance of adequate sports facilities for the success of sport programmes in youth development. The South African government has passed legislation and formulated policies to promote sport participation amongst the youth. The National Youth Policy also explicitly advocates the development of sport programmes for young people living in rural areas. This article evaluates the availability of sport programmes and sport facilities for the youth of Philippolis, a small rural town in the southern Free State. It also considers the benefits, current and potential, of sport and its associated programmes for the Philippolis youth. Interviews were held with key community members and officials involved with the implementation of sport programmes, youth development, and the provision of sport infrastructure. The study found sporting facilities to be both limited and poorly maintained. This has a negative impact on the success of sports programmes and, by extension, detracts from the benefits which such programmes should confer on the youths’ social development.