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Sport in Small Nations


The 2012 International Research Symposium drew experts from around the world to discuss ‘The Future of Sport in Small Nations’. We were honoured to host such a strong group of internationally renowned keynote speakers.

Some of the questions discussed over the three day conference were:

  • How should small nations measure the ‘value’ of sport?
  • What are the unique strategies, policies and programs put in place by small nations in order to be successful?
  • Does sport play a more significant role in the formation of national identity in smaller nations and if so what are some of the potential consequences both positive and negative?

In addition to gleaning the valuable perspectives of the keynote speakers, the symposium featured two discussion panels to reflect the expertise of national sport chief executives, media experts, coaches and academics.

We were fortunate to engage with all our delegates to help our collective understanding of sport in small nations.

See a copy of the final programme for further information.

Keynote speakers

Professor Barrie Houlihan, Professor of Sport Policy, School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences Loughborough University, UK

"Small states, sport and politics at the margin"

Professor Fred Coalter, Visiting Professor, Carnegie Research Centre, Leeds Metropolitan University

"The value of sport: The complex relationship between evidence, policy and politics"

Dr. Pasi Koski, Department of teacher education in Rauma, Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning and Education (CELE), University of Turku, Finland

"David among Goliaths – Finland as a sport nation"

Professor Lars Tore Ronglan, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences Oslo, Norway

"Elite sport in Scandinavian social democracies: Legitimacy under pressure?"

Dr. Mahfoud Amara, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University

"Sport policy in small nations: Insights from the Middle East and North Africa region"


Michael P. Sam & Steven J. Jackson (2015) Sport and small states: the myths, limits and contradictions of the legend of David and Goliath, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 319-327.

Barrie Houlihan & Jinming Zheng (2015) Small states: sport and politics at the margin, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 329-344

Lars Tore Ronglan (2015) Elite sport in Scandinavian welfare states: legitimacy under pressure?, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 345-363

Natalie Darko & Christopher Mackintosh (2015) Challenges and constraints in developing and implementing sports policy and provision in Antigua and Barbuda: which way now for a small island state?, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3,365-390

Josef Fahlén, Inger Eliasson & Kim Wickman (2015) Resisting self-regulation: an analysis of sport policy programme making and implementation in Sweden, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 391-406

Michael P. Sam (2015) Sport policy and transformation in small states: New Zealand’s struggle between vulnerability and resilience, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 407-420

Pasi Koski & Jari Lämsä(2015) Finland as a small sports nation: socio-historical perspectives on the development of national sport policy, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 421-441.

Nadim Nassif & Mahfoud Amara (2015) Sport, policy and politics in Lebanon, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 443-455

Richard Toomer (2015) Jamaica, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7:3, 457-471.


We would like to extend our thanks to staff from the Division of Sciences, Marketing and Communications Division, and School of Physical Education for their technical, logistical and administrative support.

Thank you also to the numerous volunteers who helped ensure a successful event.

Finally, our thanks to Orbit Travel, Sport NZ and the NZ Ministry for Culture and Heritage for their sponsorship of the symposium.

Dr. Mike Sam & Professor Steve Jackson