and the Power to Inspire Change


The symposium has now been morphed to a different format.
A Virtual Symposium

The symposium has been morphed to a different format. Further details to be released shortly.

‘Sport’, as Mandela famously observed, ‘has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.’

The power of sport to serve as a force for social good is well-documented. Various types of sports bring people from different generations and backgrounds together for a common purpose, provide a sense of security, belonging and identity, enjoyment and excitement; and for participants a sense of fulfilment, well-being and physical fitness. In short, sport and its associated values can act as a powerful driving force for inspiring individual growth, social change and collective engagement.

Carefully crafted around inclusive interdisciplinary approaches to exploring the power of sport to positively change lives and communities, we are excited to welcome you to a unique two-day virtual symposium.

Our innovative and interactive format is designed to replicate the collective learning experience of a residential conference in an on-line environment, offering delegates opportunities to reflect on, question and engage with live presentations from leading practitioners from the world of applied sport. 

Key Themes and Engagement Leaders

The symposium is structured to create inclusive spaces where four key or ‘hot’ themes can be explored.

Paralympism and Personal Growth led by Danny Crates 

Danny won gold in the men’s 800m at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens and is now an established personal performance coach, as well as a global Keynote speaker, published author and TV presenter and pundit. He brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding around building high-performance teams and individuals. He has over 20 years experience speaking to businesses around the world on the key elements to success, combined with 12 years as an international athlete, training with – and most importantly, learning from – some of the best athletes and coaches in the world. Danny talks about overcoming hurdles, resilience, performing under pressure, dealing with setbacks, goal setting, incremental gain, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and so much more.

Education and Learning led by Derek Peaple

Derek was recently shortlisted as TES Headteacher of the Year and praised by Ofsted for his ‘values-driven’ approach to 25 years of school leadership. This hot seat session will aim to explore how sport, and its associated values, has provided an interdisciplinary framework for the development of whole school culture and ethos. As a corollary, it will consider how this approach has shaped curriculum innovation and enrichment, personal development and student leadership and range of international learning partnerships.

Leadership and High Performance led by Phil Davies

Phil is widely recognised as a world class rugby player and leader with a career spanning over 35 years and whose actions build high performance systems incorporating change and progression in the complex environment of professional Rugby Union. This session will discuss leadership and high performance through the elite sport of professional Rugby union, how Process and Passion underpinned by a philosophy of people centred, development-driven and competition supported system help teams achieve their goals. This approach provides an aspirational direction, inspirational actions along the journey to achieve the team’s purpose, vision, and values that drive the plan set out by all the key people involved.

Fans and Fan Culture led by Karl Spracklen

Karl has held senior officer positions within the Leisure Studies Association, and was its Chair until 2013. He is closely involved in the International Sociological Associations’s Research Committee 13 (Leisure). This session will explore how being a sport fan creates community and identity, but that community and identity can be problematic when it harms the self and our social relations. Karl will draw on his own fandom and academic debates to sketch the potentiality.


Tuesday 21st July Key Theme: Paralympism and Personal Growth

  • 09:00 – 10:30 Leader: Danny Crates with q&a
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)
  • 11:00 – 12:30 Presentations relating to the Key Theme (3-5 presentations on the key theme, plus discussion)
  • 12:30 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)

Key Theme: Education and Learning

  • 14:00 – 15:30 Leader: Derek Peaple with q&a15:30 – 16:00 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)
  • 16:00 – 17:30 Presentations relating to Key Theme (3-5 presentations on the key theme, plus discussion)
  • 17:30 – 18:00 End of Day 1 Consolidation and Interim Conclusions

Wednesday 22nd July Key Theme: Leadership and High Performance

  • 09:00 – 10:30 Leader: Phil Davies with q&a
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)
  • 11:00 – 12:30 Presentations relating to the Key Theme (3-5 presentations on the key theme, plus discussion)
  • 12:30 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)

Key Theme: Fans and Fan Culture

  • 14:00 – 15:30 Leader: Karl Spracklen with q&a
  • 15:30 – 16:00 Break (with interactive chat room and networking space available)
  • 16:00 – 17:30 Presentations relating to Key Theme (3-5 presentations on the key theme, plus discussion)
  • 17:30 – 18:00 End of Day 2 Consolidation, Cross Panel Conclusions and the Way Forward

What To Send

The aim of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats. Creative responses to the subject and alternative presentation styles that engage the audience and foster debate are particularly encouraged. Please feel free to put forward proposals that you think will get the message across, in whatever form.

At the end of the conference we will be exploring ways in which we can develop the discussions and dialogues in new and sustainable inclusive interdisciplinary directions, including research, workshops, publications, public interest days, associations, developing courses etc which will help us make sense of the topics discussed during the meeting. There is an intention, subject to the discussions which emerge during the course of the meeting, to form a selective innovative interdisciplinary publication to engender further research and collaboration.

Proposals for focused 10 minute presentations should be submitted by Friday 8th July 2020.

All submissions will be at least double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team, The Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 10th July 2020.

Proposals may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) type of proposal e.g. paper presentation, workshop, panel, film, performance, etc, f) body of proposal, g) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Vsport Submission

Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:

Derek Peaple (Symposium Chair):
Len Capuli (Project Administrator):


The symposium is being hosted via the Professional Class Zoom platform and associated encryption.

Sessions will be recorded for the benefit of delegates who will be attending from time zones that are not in sync with BST (London). Sessions will also provide a resource archive for the building of a repository to emerge from the Sport project.

Details and Information

The conference registration fee is £35 (circa €40) and is inclusive of:

  • live participation in all conference sessions across both days
  • Access to digital conference proceedings, including videos, podcasts and other streaming media emerging from the event 
  • all associated abstracts, presentations, papers, submissions and key words
  • the opportunity to be involved in the formation of a new Inclusive Interdisciplinary Sport Association plus one’s membership of the association (from the point of launch, when ready)
  • access to and opportunities for multi-platform publishing, initially in a proposed new online open-volume journal

Benefits of participation include:

  • access to key figures with significant sporting expertise and experience
  • a space within which you can engage with academics, athletes, practitioners, professionals, NGO’s, voluntary sector workers from around the world
  • inclusive interdisciplinary contexts to interact, share, and learn together
  • real time networking
  • the chance to shape and take part in emerging outcomes and outputs extending beyond the initial symposium
  • the formation of international projects, global collaborations and report-back activities focused on a face-to-face interdisciplinary experience in Europe in 2021

What’s so Special?

A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.


A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.


A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.


An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.


An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.


Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.


Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.

Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network inspiring inclusive interdisciplinary research, publishing and collaboration