Exclusion, inclusion and belonging in mainstream and disability sport: Jack’s story


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Concepts of exclusion and inclusion in sport, physical activity and physical
education settings are mostly anchored to discussions about access to
and opportunities in physical and social spaces from the perspective of
non-disabled adult stakeholders. In this article, we use individual interviews and two creative non-fiction accounts to explore the views of an
adult with cerebral palsy (CP), named Jack, who reflects on his embodied
experiences of mainstream and CP youth football. This approach enabled
us to provide a more nuanced and sophisticated consideration of the
exclusion/inclusion dichotomy by centring Jack’s construction of identity
and feelings of belonging in the spaces his body inhabited. Particular
attention is paid to the interactions and relationships that Jack developed
with teammates and coaches, and the (often ableist) constructs of ability
that pervade mainstream and CP settings, all of which served to influence
Jack’s sense of belonging. We end by encouraging scholars to centre the
experiences and amplify the voices of disabled young people, and to
consider inclusion as intersubjective experiences associated with feelings
of belonging, acceptance and value that are dynamic and in flux. The
concept of embodied belonging can help us to move researchers beyond
a simple critique of disabling socio-spatial power relations towards the
construction of new knowledge that enhances understandings of disability, place, and space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Early online date13 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2022


  • elonging; cerebral palsy; disability; exclusion; inclusion; youth football


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