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Resources for using sport in work with refugees

Copyrights: Swiss Academy for Development

Resources for using sport in work with refugees

A range of tools to assist you on topics ranging from social cohesion and inclusion to gender and human rights.

To strengthen the potential of sport programmes to achieve positive protective outcomes and address challenges related to social inclusion, social cohesion and psychosocial wellbeing, UNHCR, the Olympic Refuge Foundation and the Swiss child relief agency Terre des hommes (Tdh) – supported by individuals and organisations from a broad cross-section of backgrounds and disciplines – collaborated to create the Sport for Protection Toolkit: Programming with Young People in Forced Displacement Settings

Below is a selection of resources, some of which were used to inform the Sport for Protection Toolkit. They can support actors in designing, implementing and measuring programmes that use sport to address the challenges faced by refugees. 


Football Including Refugees (FIRE) 
The FIRE project is funded by the European Union and run by a consortium of national football associations, civil society organisations and educational institutions. It aims to contribute to welcoming and including newcomers through football by developing resources to support clubs and raising awareness of the role of sport in social change.

Integration of Refugees through Sport
Created by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), this website is a hub of resources for professionals and volunteers (online learning courses, theoretical and implementation guides, good practice examples and podcasts). The focus is on grassroots sport, but many resources can be used for other community initiatives as well. 

Sport Inclusion Network
This website hosts a range of resources related to the social inclusion of refugees through sport. It shares promising practices from different European countries, challenges for instructors, research papers and resources for designing projects. 

Social inclusion

Inclusion of Migrants in and Through Sports: A Guide to Good Practice 
This guide gathers good practice examples on the inclusion of migrants and ethnic minorities in and through sport. It is based on country studies of eight European countries: Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary and United Kingdom.

Leaving No One Behind—The Imperative of Inclusive Development
This report illustrates who is being left behind and in what ways, identifies patterns of social exclusion and considers whether development processes have been inclusive. It examines the links between exclusion, poverty and employment, and recommends actions to promote social inclusion.

Mapping of Good Practices Relating to Social Inclusion of Migrants Through Sport: Final Report to the DG Education and Culture of the European Commission
This study provides an overview of the types of sports-related projects, programmes and interventions used to support the social inclusion of migrants. It identifies good practices in their design, implementation and measurement.

Social cohesion

Playdagogy is a teaching methodology designed for children 6-11 years old by PLAY International. The goal is to help children learn while playing and being physically active. The programme includes all the tools, training and activities necessary for implementation.

Playing for the Future: The Role of Sport and Recreation in Supporting Refugee Young People to “Settle Well” in Australia
This article presents some of the potential benefits and problems associated with the use of sport and recreation in supporting refugee and migrant young people to “settle well” in Australia. It also includes recommendations for further research.

The Reality of Implementing Community-Based Sport and Physical Activity Programs to Enhance the Development of Underserved Youth: Challenges and Potential Strategies
This article presents four case studies of programmes implemented in four different countries designed to enhance the psychosocial development of underserved youth. 

Psychosocial wellbeing

Brain Architecture
This website provides an overview of the impact of early experiences on the development of brain architecture and subsequent learning, behaviour and health. It shows how the cognitive, emotional and social capacities of an individual are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course.

IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) issued these guidelines to enable humanitarian actors to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing during an emergency.

2018 Sphere Standards
The Sphere Handbook is one of the most well-known and internationally recognised sets of common principles for delivering quality humanitarian responses. Because it is not owned by any one organisation, it enjoys broad acceptance by the humanitarian sector as a whole.

Integrating Trauma-Informed Practices Into Interventions for Youth
This document offers guidance on designing projects based on a trauma-informed approach. It draws on current research and Edgework’s frontline experience designing and implementing programmes.

Moving Together
This handbook provides guidance on combining psychosocial support, sport and physical activity while respecting local cultures and traditions. It is applicable to many different settings and geographical contexts.

Women on the Move: Trauma-informed Interventions Based on Sport and Play
A two-part toolkit for practitioners working on trauma-informed interventions based on sport and play. Part I consists of principles and a practical guide, while Part II presents the toolbox.

Working with Children and their Environment: Manual of Psychosocial Skills
This manual aims to develop adults’ personal, social, methodological and technical skills to increase the wellbeing and resilience of vulnerable children.

Psycho-social Sport Programmes to Overcome Trauma in Post-Disaster Interventions: An Overview
An overview of organisations using sport to address trauma. The examples in the document highlight that sport-for-trauma-relief programmes can be implemented in different ways.

Sport and Physical Activity in Post-Disaster Intervention
This practical handbook introduces some of the key themes related to sport in post-disaster interventions and directs readers to relevant resources.

Child protection and safeguarding

International Safeguards for Children in Sport
A range of organisations developed this set of standards together. The final version of the document lays the foundation for a holistic approach to ensuring children’s safety and protection in all sports contexts internationally.

Keeping Children Safe
This online resource library contains documents and publications on child safeguarding collated by Keeping Children Safe.

This toolkit includes information on good practice, academic research and expert opinions. It aims to assist National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Federations (IFs) in developing policies and procedures to safeguard athletes from harassment and abuse in sport.

Disability and adapted sports

Adapt to Learn, Learning to Adapt
This document provides an overview of child protection in emergencies to date. It makes recommendations for child protection practitioners.

Adapted Sport Manual: Adapting Sporting Practice to Serve Society and Contribute to Sustainable Peace
This manual summarises and assembles good practices for adapted sports. It intends to be practical rather than scientific. 

Sport and Play for All: A Manual on Including Children and Youth with Disabilities
This manual provides tips, guidance and advice on disability and inclusion. It includes training materials on disability, social inclusion and inclusive sport. It features many games and sports that have been field-tested and adapted for children with disabilities.


Empowering Girls in Bangladesh to Say “No” to Child Marriage
Through access to education, sport and Plan International-supported peer groups, children in Bangladesh are learning more about their rights. The programming and activities help break down gender stereotypes, bolster confidence and challenge conventional norms.

The International Guide to Designing Sport Programmes for Girls
The chapter ‘Mixing Genders’ covers some best practices for mixing genders in sport for protection programmes to avoid doing harm to either girls or boys. It explores the values, benefits and dangers of the combination of boys and girls in sport programmes and provides recommendations for effective gender integration.

YDF Manual for Gender Awareness
A set of resources and activities for promoting gender equality through sport.

Human rights

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights
This initiative aims to ensure human rights are respected in sport. Its website provides a range of resources, including commentaries and publications.

Human Rights-Based Approach to Grassroots Sports and Physical Activities
This paper aims to demonstrate how human rights-based approaches can be used for advancing grassroots sports and physical activities. It also addresses how sports can be used to strengthen human rights.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
This multilateral treaty affirms that everyone—including children and the unborn who require special consideration—is entitled to human rights and freedoms.


The Education We Want: An Advocacy Toolkit
This toolkit has been developed for young people and by young people. It includes ideas, tools and inspiring stories that help children and youth to effectively advocate for their right to an education.

Enhancing the Contribution of Sport to the Sustainable Development Goals
This guide recommends evidence-based and balanced policy options to support the effective and cost-efficient contribution of sport towards prioritised SDGs. 

Sport for Development and Peace Youth Advocacy Toolkit
This toolkit aims to provide young people with the skills and tools needed to advocate for sport for development and peace in order to create awareness and to influence decision-making.