Sports Clubs: The ‘Lifeblood’ of a Cohesive and Participating Neighbourhood
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A socially cohesive and participating neighbourhood is a fundamental priority for Dutch policymakers. However, the influence of sports club membership on these two concepts has received little attention so far. Thus, this study examines the effects of sports club membership on young people’s perception of social cohesion and social participation in the neighbourhood, while taking gender and ethnicity into account. For this research, data was collected during face-to-face interviews and via phone interviews amongst 81 young people aged between 12 and 22 years, with an average age of 16.64 years (SD = 2.18). The participants were from 10 municipalities in the Netherlands and data was collected between February and April 2020. The perception of social cohesion was measured by using de Veiligheidsmonitor (the Safety Monitor; 2017) and social participation was measured by using the social exclusion index (2014). The data were analysed by conducting a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). The results showed that young people with a sports club membership (compared to young people without a membership) have a significantly higher perception of social cohesion (M = 4.02, SD = 0.07 versus M = 3.77, SD = 0.08) and social participation (M = 3.11, SD = 0.04 versus M = 2.95, SD = 0.05) in neighbourhoods. With this knowledge, policymakers may be able to address problems in neighbourhoods related to social cohesion and social participation by promoting sports club membership.