A German initiative for refugees in Iraq and Jordan, operating under the belief that sports can serve as a catalyst for social cohesion, is making a significant impact on young lives. The program offers a range of sports activities for young people aged 8 to 24, benefiting over 126,000 children and young people across schools and community centers. Additionally, it has trained over 300 teachers and trainers to support this mission.

The initiative actively encourages the participation of girls and young women, breaking down cultural and gender barriers in regions where societal norms traditionally limit female engagement in sports. By doing so, it challenges entrenched stereotypes and fosters a sense of agency and empowerment among its participants.

A standout success story from the program is Maryana Haddad, a member of the Jordanian women’s national football team. Through the initiative, Haddad not only honed her skills as a football coach but also found a platform to inspire and mentor a new generation of athletes. Her journey exemplifies the transformative power of sport in providing opportunities and building confidence.

The program also emphasizes the importance of educators and trainers in nurturing social skills and values through sports. By upskilling local social workers, teachers, and trainers, the initiative ensures its long-term sustainability and continued positive impact on the communities it serves.

This initiative demonstrates the profound potential of sports to bridge cultural divides, empower individuals, and create cohesive communities, proving that its influence extends far beyond the playing field.
Source: Jordan and Iraq: Fostering social cohesion | BMZ

Source: Jordan and Iraq: Fostering social cohesion | BMZ

Established in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) is dedicated to providing access to physical activity and fostering personal growth and community building for refugees.

Through their sports programs in refugee camps, young people can find a sense of belonging, form friendships, and build confidence. The impact of these initiatives extends far beyond the camps, contributing to broader social integration and personal development.

The formation of the Olympic Refugee Team, first introduced at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and expanded in subsequent games, symbolizes the global recognition of refugee athletes and their potential to excel on the world stage. This team not only highlights the talents of refugee athletes but also brings attention to their resilience and determination.

The foundation’s commitment extends beyond elite athletes, as demonstrated by projects like Terrains d’Avenir. Launched in partnership with the French Ministry of Sports, this program aims to integrate displaced youth into French society through sports, offering organized activities regardless of administrative status or language proficiency.

Women and girls often face additional barriers to participation in sports, including cultural norms and gender-based discrimination. The ORF addresses these challenges through targeted interventions and inclusive programming, breaking down barriers and empowering women and girls to reclaim their agency and pursue their aspirations.

The Olympic Refuge Foundation continues to champion the transformative power of sport, providing opportunities for personal growth, fostering community spirit, and advocating for the rights and potential of refugees worldwide.

Source: The Olympic Refuge Foundation Provides Hope Through Sport – The Borgen Project

The Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) has expanded its Refugee Athlete Scholarship Programme, welcoming eight new athletes, including five remarkable women. This initiative not only enriches the programme’s diversity but also underscores the profound impact of sport in empowering female refugees.

Sport as a Vehicle for Social Change
Sport has long been recognized as a powerful vehicle for social change, and the ORF’s initiative exemplifies this truth. By providing a platform for refugee women to excel in athletics, judo, alpine skiing, and canoeing, the programme nurtures their athletic talents while fostering personal growth and resilience.

A Lifeline Beyond the Field
The Refugee Athlete Scholarship Programme offers more than just sporting opportunities. It is a lifeline for these women, providing access to high-level training facilities, national and international competitions, and crucial support networks. This comprehensive support not only elevates their sporting careers but also empowers them to reclaim control over their lives.

Transformative Impact and Future Goals
Looking ahead, the impact of the ORF’s initiatives promises to be transformative. The foundation has set ambitious targets to ensure one million young people affected by displacement have access to safe sport by 2024. This goal lays the groundwork for a more inclusive and equitable future, demonstrating the ORF’s commitment to using sport as a catalyst for change.

The expansion of the Refugee Athlete Scholarship Programme highlights the ORF’s dedication to empowering female refugees through sport. By supporting these athletes, the foundation is not only helping them achieve their dreams but also promoting broader social integration and resilience.

Source: Eight new Refugee Athlete Scholarship recipients announced ahead of 2024 Olympic Games  (olympics.com)

The Surrey Football Association (FA) has relaunched its groundbreaking initiative, “Unite Through Football: Refugees,” aimed at enabling refugees, particularly women, to find community and strength through football.

Building Community Through Football
The inaugural edition of the programme brought together over 200 players from 35 different countries, creating a vibrant and diverse football community. Since its inception, the project has continued to flourish, offering men and women across the South East of England a platform not only to play football but also to forge meaningful connections within their local communities.

A League of Inclusivity
The initiative is structured as a league, facilitating monthly fixtures and ensuring that players are equipped with essential gear, including kits, boots, and even prayer facilities. This commitment to inclusivity and respect for diverse needs underscores the programme’s dedication to creating a welcoming environment for all participants.

Impact on Integration and Well-being
Anwar Uddin MBE, diversity and inclusion manager at the FA and former professional footballer, highlighted the project’s role in fostering integration and enhancing the mental and physical well-being of participants. He emphasized the profound impact of these sessions in nurturing a sense of belonging and connection among refugees and the wider community.

Looking Forward
“Unite Through Football: Refugees” exemplifies how sport can serve as a powerful tool for social integration and personal development. By providing refugees with the opportunity to engage in football, the Surrey FA is helping to build stronger, more inclusive communities.

Source: Project to help refugees play football relaunched by Surrey FA – BBC News

In April 2023, players from 1. FC Köln’s women’s team and four young refugee women from the Scoring Girls project dazzled a record-breaking crowd of 38,365 spectators. This remarkable event highlighted the power of sport to unite and inspire.

Founded by Kurdish refugee Tuğba Tekkal, the Scoring Girls project goes beyond football training. It combines athletic development with academic support and career guidance, offering a holistic approach to empowerment. By engaging strong female role models, Scoring Girls instills confidence and belief in the participants’ own capabilities.

The project’s reach is impressive. With over 150 girls from more than 15 countries participating in Berlin and Cologne alone, Scoring Girls expanded into Iraq in 2021. This initiative provides a supportive community for girls and young women, helping them overcome the trauma of displacement and war.

Scoring Girls ensures that any girl or young woman can join and find a sense of belonging and empowerment, proving that the impact of sport extends far beyond the field.

Source: Women’s football: Tuğba Tekkal’s Scoring Girls* integration project (deutschland.de)

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