Participation in sport and the perceptions of quality of life amongst high school learners in the Theewaterskloof Municipality, South Africa
Van Hout, Roel Cornelis Henricus
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In South Africa, sport can unite the country because it can transcend race, gender, politics or language groups. Much of the youth of the country are in the developmental phase where critical decisions are being taken on key life transitions including; education, work, lifestyle, participation in society and other psycho-sociological aspects. In this life phase, learners in high school within the previously disadvantaged communities form a crucial part of South Africa‘s future. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to determine how high school learners in the Theewaterskloof Municipality in South Africa, perceived the influence of sport participation on their quality of life. To specify the perceptions of the learners on the influence of sport participation, the research described quality of life according to six domains: drugs, alcohol and crime; mental health; social contact, culture and safety; happiness and wellbeing; physical health and diseases; and academic achievement. It was hypothesized that learners of high schools within the previously disadvantaged communities in the Theewaterskloof Municipality, who participated in sport, perceived a better quality of life than learners who did not play sport at all. The research was conducted at three high schools located in the Theewaterskloof Municipality of the Western Cape Province. A questionnaire was used to collect information from 484 learners aged 13 to 18 years. The questionnaire was structured according to the six domains of quality of life. The findings were described for each domain of quality of life and revealed multiple significant outcomes when compared to sport participation. A significant and/or practically significant relationship was noted for variables of each domain, except academic achievement. The domain of drugs, alcohol and crime was not statistically significant, but is considered to be practically significant. Thus, learners perceived that increasing sport participation resulted in a significantly more positive response of at least one variable for the domains social contact, culture and safety; drugs, alcohol and crime; physical health and diseases; mental health; and happiness and wellbeing. These findings of the study only addressed actual sport participation, while there were also significant relationships found between the quality of life variables and the question; ―I like playing sports and being physically active‖. It indicated the relationship between the interest of the participants to play sport and a possible increase on the domains of quality of life. Those variables that were significant to both sport participation and the interest of learners to play sport, were most meaningful. The general hypothesis was supported and it may be concluded that learners within the previously disadvantaged communities in the Theewaterskloof Municipality, who participated in sport, perceived a better quality of life than learners of the same age group who did not play sport at all. Each domain of quality of life was judged by an independent secondary hypothesis and five of the six domains identified that learners perceived a significantly more positive response for at least one variable of that domain, when they participated in sport.