Game Changers: Stories from the Sport for Refugees Coalition
The URL has been copied
The URL has been copied
a judo practiioner demonstrates a jump
Following the Global Refugee Forum 2023, the Sport for Refugees Coalition (SfRC) aims to amplify the stories of SfRC members who are supporting refugees and host communities through sport. 

Judo for Peace in Southern Africa  

The Judo for Peace (JFP) programme of the International Judo Federation (IJF) embodies the true values of judo: courtesy, courage, friendship, honesty, honour, modesty, respect and self-control. The programme has expanded since its launch, covering more countries in southern Africa and reaching more displaced communities to promote social inclusion and peaceful co-existence through judo.  

Launched in 2015, the first activities started in Meheba Refugee Camp, Zambia. Since then, the programme has developed in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi, Tongogara Refugee Camp, Zimbabwe, and Mayukwayuka Refugee Camp, Zambia. Refugee communities often face integration challenges, fueled by cultural, linguistic, and religious differences. Recognizing that host communities can experience economic and social tensions regarding refugee integration, IJF invites refugees and host community members alike to participate; with the goal of helping them live together with respect.  

IJF also recognizes the importance of addressing the needs of refugees residing outside of formal camp settings and those living in urban areas, to support these communities it has launched the Judo for Peace South Africa programme (JFPSA). Through judo activities, JFPSA fights against discrimination, gender-based violence and xenophobia, and promotes peaceful coexistence and social integration. Currently, judo is available in six clubs and eleven schools in Johannesburg and is managed by IJF Academy graduate Roberto Orlando, with assistance from local coaches who previously participated in the programme. 

instructor points to judo students

Picture: Human rights seminar in Mayukwayukwa Refugee Camp, Zambia 

IJF JFP Director, Nicolas Messner, recently visited the programmes and conducted judo classes and development activities. He shares the following poem written by a Judo for Peace Participant in Malawi.  

Excerpt from Judo Seeds: Growing Strong by Miradi Badibanga.

“We step on the mat, small but keen, 

White belts now, but dreams unseen. 

Judo's lessons, strong and true, 

Respect and focus, see us through. 


Every tumble, every fall, 

Makes us stronger, hears our call. 

Ukemi soft, a graceful art, 

Discipline's fire in our heart. 


Seoi-nage, o-soto-gari, loud, 

We practise hard, a growing crowd. 

Girls and boys, side by side we stand, 

Judo's power, in every land.” 

Today, more than 1,000 young people affected by displacement are benefitting from activities in the four countries. Looking ahead, the Judo for Peace programme anticipates further growth, with plans underway to expand activities to a third refugee camp in Zambia by the end of 2024. The IJF is actively exploring opportunities to extend additional support to neighboring countries, thereby broadening the reach and impact of this transformative initiative. 

To read the full version of Judo Seeds: Growing Strong and other poems produced by the Judo for Peace participants, please click here.  

The International Judo Federation made their commitment to the Multistakeholder Pledge on Sport for Inclusion and Protection to continue their activity for and with refugees, mainly in the sports and education sector. Their commitments span from policy-making to elite sports through the IJF Refugee Team, and to grassroots sports, through programmes in refugee camps, as seen above. To learn more about the Multistakeholder Sport Pledge, please visit here.  

To learn more about how sport can contribute to the protection and inclusion of refugees and find ways to get involved in the Sport for Refugees Coalition, visit our webpage or get in touch at [email protected].

Images by IJF - Nicolas Messner


Sustainable Development Goals
10 – Reduced inequalities
Target Group
Displaced people

Related Articles

east africa cup 2024

East Africa Cup 2024 Goes Beyond Football for East African Youth

Svein Olaf Evjen Olsen
The URL has been copied
bader football gaza

Like Everything in Gaza, War Destroys Football for the Foreseeable Future

Bader Alzaharna
The URL has been copied

Sport and governance: Peacebuilding in Communities Affected by the Armed Conflict in Colombia

Beatriz Elena Mejía Restrepo
The URL has been copied
african union sports council members pose

AUSC Region 5 Declares April to be the Month of Sport for Development and Peace

African Union Sports Council
The URL has been copied