Sports and events play an important role in local identity building and creating a sense of community that encourages participation and increases social capital. Rural communities are specific areas with special needs and can face challenges and restraints when it comes to event organisation. The purpose of this paper is to identify organisational challenges and analyse the potential to achieving long-term sustainable social and economic outcomes linked to small-scale sports events in rural communities. Organisational challenges of rural communities in terms of organising sport events are examined and discussed using the framework of event leveraging developed by O’Brien and Chalip. This methodology is applied and discussed to a case study focusing on small-scale winter sport events in rural Croatia. Semi-structured interviews with local organisers were conducted in order to collect data on the overall event organisation and management, local coordination, role of community stakeholders and challenges facing strategic planning, with the intent to identify objectives for future events. Results were discussed independently and in the context of the leverage framework, with reflection on its applicability to rural communities as the event organisers. Recommendations are provided based on critical insight from the literature and are oriented on how to streamline the process of organising, delivering and managing of events in remote rural communities. Finally, the idea of inter-community organisation is proposed to ensure long-term social and economic benefits and to address the existing issues of overlapping of stakeholder categories, mixed objectives, distrust among stakeholders and inefficiently used local resources.
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