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I Just Can’t Bear These Procedures, I Just Want to be Out There Working With Children: An Autoethnography on Neoliberalism and Youth Sports Charities in the UK. Sport, Education and Society

This paper uses an autoethnography to recount my experiences with SportHelp, a UK youth sports charity. Using a layered account format, which jumps through time and space, I demonstrate the extent to which neoliberal values have influenced the continuity and change of SportHelp. This paper does not constitute an attack on the charity, its staff, nor the charity sector. The focus is on how the wider neoliberal context shapes how SportHelp operates. The findings are analysed in terms of Foucault’s (2008, The birth of biopolitics. Lectures at the Collége de France, 1978–79. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) notion of governmentality by examining SportHelp’s monitoring and reporting practices, as well as the managers’ use of New Public Management discourse. The conclusion reflects on the extent to which neoliberal governmentality, though in some instances beneficial for SportHelp, ultimately does more harm than good. This paper, by offering an ‘insider’s view’, adds to the literature calling for a change in how policy makers and funders shape the current hypercompetitive socio-political landscape. Charities should be supported, not discouraged, to develop holistic programmes that move beyond ‘economic rationales’ and are capable of addressing the multifaceted needs of their service users.