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New Integration of Refugees Through Sport resources to transform experiences into training for community sport providers

Copyrights: Maria Lourdes Gonzalez

New Integration of Refugees Through Sport resources to transform experiences into training for community sport providers

“The power of sport for social inclusion” is a phrase that has become a common notion and motivation in our sector – and perhaps even a promise that sport alone can solve some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, such as integrating refugees into their new communities.

New resources from the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) and partners’ Integration of Refugees Through Sport project are revealing a more complex picture that puts grassroots organisations and individuals at the centre of this equation. It is how they deliver sport and physical activity that has the power to make a difference, with the right balance of approaches, techniques, cultural awareness and local support behind them. But this power comes more often from experience than training, which is not readily available to people working in community sport.

To celebrate World Refugee Day, ISCA launched the first of a series of videos and practical resources for community sport organisations to use in their work with refugees and asylum seekers. The Implementation Guide for the Integration of Refugees Through Sport draws on a combination of research, practical experience and examples of programmes delivered across the world, and looks at the challenges and barriers grassroots sport organisations can address as well as potential solutions they can offer.

The guide is a sneak preview to an online training resource that the project partners will launch later in the year especially for grassroots sport providers, featuring tutorial videos, peer-to-peer advice and how-to guides that expand on the lessons learnt from the partners’ own experiences and by working together with teacher Morten Andersson from the Ollerup Asylum School in Denmark.

ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby emphasises that many community organisations and individuals have already taken the initiative to help enable refugees and migrants to enjoy their human right to be active and participate in sport, even if they are awaiting formal approval to join their new communities.

Many civil society organisations – not least sport organisations – have shown their human capacity by assisting refugees in finding just a little dignity, a little friendliness and a little happiness in their lives,” Kirkeby says.

To do this they acted quickly and have done it the way in which civil society is strongest. Simply by offering the refugees the same grassroots activities as they offer other citizens. This happens in thousands of places across Europe. It comes from the bottom up in local areas and is driven by volunteers. It is a fantastic symbol of the Human Right to MOVE being something we give to each other.”

“Be positive, be strong and make your own future”

The Integration of Refugees Through Sport project has not only focused on delivering peer-to-peer advice between community organisations, but has also sought advice from refugees who participated in the Ollerup Asylum School’s integration through physical activity initiative, run by Morten Andersson.

Andersson used low-tempo physical activity to help reduce stress levels, teach language skills and encourage positive interaction among young asylum seekers who were waiting for approval to reside in Denmark.

Twenty young men from Afghanistan who participated in the initiative spoke to us in focus groups and three on camera about their own experiences and to offer advice to other refugees about how sport and physical activity can provide relief and support during their difficult situations.

[The Integration of Refugees through Sport project is supported by NordPlus Adult and Erasmus+.]


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Rachel Payne, ISCA Communications Manager


Friday, July 13, 2018 - 12:33