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Combining the power of sport with policy. Meet the Problem Solver – David Thibodeau!

David Thibodeau works as a swim coach and an advocate for better inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in sport. With a background in public policy, David is working to make sure governments understand what the community needs.


“Making money is no fun. Contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun.” – Professor Yunus


Professor Yunus has said that the sport is among the most powerful in the world due to its ability to bring us together for a common cause. The world of Sport & Social Business provides an opportunity to change the world while having fun. By solving problems in and through sport, social entrepreneurs have the unique chance to advocate for social problems and create solutions through sharing the games they love. 

David Thibodeau, who competed for Team New Brunswick (Canada) in swimming, now works to change the world by advocating for two areas he is passionate about: inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in sports and generating necessary change in government policy. 

As a member of the Sport Inclusion Task Force and ambassador for You Can Play, David has engaged with hundreds of people across Canada to work with them to create more welcoming and inclusive clubs for LGBTQ+ athletes. 

“Policy is so important to the health of the community. Government policy dictates so much of our lives and can have such a big impact. Poorly designed and implemented policies can have a really negative impact on our communities.”

With an educational background in public policy, David is working to show governments that they need to understand what the community needs. Since public policy decisions are supposed to improve the health as well as the safety and well-being of citizens, David’s interest in sport for development lies in how governments, like social businesses, can leverage sport for good.

Focusing on what the people actually need, rather than a blanket policy, is crucial for change. As his fellow community leader Gabriela Matus-Bonilla, stated in her article – it’s really all about the “who.”

“The need to vote and influence policy decisions is the only way we will be able to make the change.”

David first joined the Sport & Social Business Community to learn more about the social business concept, and to learn more about how people are implementing them all around the world. As a Community Leader, he wants to spread the message of the importance of getting the changes that we are doing in our businesses reflected in government policy. 

He wants to pair the work that the Sport & Social Business Community is doing with government action. For example, shutting down streets during the pandemic so that people could get outside and exercise while social distancing. 

“Partnerships are key to solving the most challenging problems that we face today.”

David believes that a think tank for sport policy and sport for good could be well suited in bringing governments, civil society, businesses together to develop policies and priorities that work for everyone. Sport has the ability to serve as a policy tool for achieving policy goals. We achieve more when we all come together. 

Another social problem David is working towards is making sport inclusive for everyone. He has written a coach’s guide for working with LGBTQ+ athletes for the official coaching education delivery agent in his community of New Brunswick. This means making sure that LGBTQ+ athletes are able to compete without fear of being themselves, and that trans athletes are able to compete in the gender in which they identify. This is vital. 

“We are resilient and our ability to innovate in the face of adversity is powerful.”

David finds inspiration in the human capacity to adapt and to create. When people stand up for what’s right to create change, they make their communities a better place. 

His two pieces of advice: be yourself and get involved. Being passionate, being curious and being thoughtful are all important for problem-solvers. Being yourself holds a lot of power. The cliche phrase “actions speak louder than words” is always relevant in Sport & Social Business. Anyone looking to make a difference should start by getting involved in local charities, local sports, in schools, committees or networks in the workplace or out of the workplace. 

There are opportunities everywhere! David encourages everyone to say yes to new opportunities when they come your way.


To learn more about how to use Sport & Social Business to tackle problems in your community, join the Sport & Social Business Community