The complexities of implementing inclusion policies for disabled people in U.K. non-disabled voluntary community sports clubs

Matej Christiaens, Ian Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Research question: Adopting a qualitative case study design, this article draws upon the concept of ableism to analyse the extent to which mainstreaming policy in the UK leads to inclusive sport practice at the community level.
Research methods: In-depth qualitative data were collected from 31 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in the inclusion process in England including sports organisations, officials in community sports clubs and disabled people. Data were thematically analysed to explore how stakeholders understood inclusion and what the role of ableism might be in formulating this understanding.
Results and Findings: The findings illustrate that ableism appears to play a key role in the understanding of inclusion and how it is operationalised in different clubs and sports organisations. This in turn impacts whether disabled people feel able to participate within that environment. The research identified three outcomes of inclusion (parallel inclusion; full inclusion; and choice) and four approaches used or necessary to achieve the three outcomes by stakeholders (able-inclusion; barrier removal, creating opportunities; and mutual identity).
Implications: This article identifies that, irrespective of policy intent, the way inclusion policy is understood by those that have to operationalise it is often underpinned by an ableist view of disability, meaning that the desired increases in participation may not materialise. Based on the findings, it is suggested that sport organisations should strategically embed disability provision and should actively rather than passively engage with disabled people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1066
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Ableism
  • community sport
  • disability
  • inclusion
  • mainstreaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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