‘Now that they’re here, we just have to deal with it’: exploring how volunteers enact intellectual disability within community sports clubs in Melbourne, Australia

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Storr, Ryan (2017) ‘Now that they’re here, we just have to deal with it’: exploring how volunteers enact intellectual disability within community sports clubs in Melbourne, Australia. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

Abstract

This thesis explores how volunteers within community sports clubs engage with diversity work, in the form of intellectual disability. Volunteers are the central spine to many sports clubs in western societies and the delivery of sporting provision is placed upon them. They are further faced with growing ambitions in delivering an array of social outcomes such as social and cultural diversity. The capacity of voluntary sports clubs to deliver such ambitious agendas is contested. This thesis argues that volunteers do not see their job as doing diversity work, specifically in the form of intellectual disability. This is because many community sports clubs value able-bodied performance and winning, and view their core business as fielding teams for competition. This thesis presents findings from a ten-month ethnographic study to explore how volunteers in one community sports club in Melbourne, Australia, engaged with diversity work by fielding two cricket teams for athletes with an intellectual disability. I drew upon diversity management literature and Sara Ahmed’s (2006; 2006b; 2007a; 2007b; 2008; 2009; 2012; 2017) numerous studies on diversity work in institutional life as the basis for my conceptual framework. The results showed that only a few select volunteers at the club engaged in diversity work by volunteering with two specialist teams for athletes with an intellectual disability. These teams were referred to as the ‘All Abilities’ teams. Further, volunteers committed to promoting diversity at the club met various forms of resistance within the club. The capacity to address diversity issues was influenced by the attitudes of key volunteers within the club and the availability of volunteers willing to engage in diversity work. Volunteers committed to implementing diversity policies and programs reported feeling unsupported, overburdened and, at times, burned out. The thesis concludes with practical recommendations and considerations for community sports volunteers in delivering diversity efforts around intellectual disability.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/36953
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1607 Social Work
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords diversity work; diversity management; diversity; community sport; community sports volunteers; sport volunteers
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