Empowering children and young people through sport in Egypt
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young people play volleyball
Through sports activities with children and young people, Terre des hommes (Tdh) promotes gender equality and social inclusion, and combats discrimination and xenophobia, alongside refugee and host communities in Egypt.

This article is a response to our call for articles on sport and refugees. You can find out more here.

Egypt currently hosts nearly 260,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers primarily from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia. Children and young people report being faced with high risks of discrimination, exploitation and insecurity among other protection issues.

Empowering through sport

In the Greater Cairo region in Egypt, Terre des hommes uses sport[1] to empower children and adolescents from both refugee and host communities, focusing on their protection and psychosocial resilience. Through football, volleyball, table tennis and other movement-based activities and games, we support integration and social cohesion between different nationalities and backgrounds, combat violence, promote tolerance and create safe spaces for girls and women.

“Participating in Tdh’s football activities over the past two years helped me regain my self-confidence. It was a great experience that allowed me to expand my social circle and get along with people from different countries,” says Nabil Mohamed, 22, from Eritrea.



These activities also help children and adolescents to strengthen specific life skills such as trust building, cooperation, collaboration, management of emotions and responsibility. Young people are meaningfully engaged to take an active role and lead in the sports activities and sessions.

“Gannat was a very shy girl before participating in the sport activities. She used to never feel comfortable playing with other children. During the activities, I would see them all running and screaming and laughing, while she would remain quiet. Over time she started getting more comfortable speaking and expressing herself, and eventually I was able to see her run and play aloud like her peers,” says 10-year-old Gannat’s mother from Yemen.

Child-led activities

Our sports activities are designed by our facilitators along with psychologists and case management officers, according to the needs expressed by the children and young people themselves. They are safe spaces for children and adolescents, where they are protected from physical and psychological harm and free to express themselves. Activities based on movement for children and adolescents are made simple, safe and fun. For many refugee children, sports represent the only recreational activities to look forward to.

While exercising, children and adolescents also learn about their rights, linking with their everyday life. 

A special focus on girls

Refugee girls and women face additional discrimination when accessing sports, an issue recognised in the Global Compact on Refugees and addressed in our projects. In the 6th of October City in Cairo, Tdh organised five all-girls volleyball and football sports days in 2019 and 2020; forming teams with young women and girls from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. These days created a female friendly space for girls to enjoy sports in a community setting and allowed them to discuss their interests and opinions.



“I love sports. I really enjoyed the volleyball days because I met people from different countries. I believe sports make us girls stronger as we are challenged to learn and push our limits to win. These activities helped me feel more self-confident in social situations and determined to achieve what I want in life”, says Reem Mohammed, 17, from Syria.

Read also: Football Tournament Brings Refugees and Host Community Together

To learn more about Terre des hommes’ projects, visit www.tdh.ch.


[1] www.tdh.ch/en/projects/sport-protection-toolkit

Sport for Protection Toolkit: Programming with Young People in Forced Displacement Settings. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Terre des hommes (Tdh). 2018.

Article by Rana Ashraf Fouad, Documentation & Communication Officer at Terre des hommes in Egypt.

Terre des hommes (Tdh) is the leading Swiss organisation for children’s aid. Every year, our health, protection and emergency relief programmes help more than four million children and members of their communities in almost 40 countries.


South Sudan
Middle East
All sports
Sustainable Development Goals
10 – Reduced inequalities
Target Group
Displaced people

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