According to UNHCR, 68.5 million people have currently been displaced from their homes due to war, violence, and/or human rights violations. Refugees have been forced to flee their homelands as a result of its unsafe nature. This number represents an outrageous number of refugees and asylum seekers around the world. They have often been exposed to violence, torture, and extremely traumatic situations leading to a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety amongst refugees and asylum seekers. Refugees and newcomers also face many challenges when resettling in another country. Essentially, refugees must build a new life in a country they are unfamiliar with. This comes with a set of different expectations, different culture, and a completely different environment.
Integrating into a novel environment can be extremely difficult, therefore, many nations have used sport as a tool to integrate and ease the settlement journey of refugees and newcomers. Sport provides a unique opportunity to help facilitate the inclusion of refugees. Sport has the ability to foster a sense of belonging, and the ability to build critical life skills. Some of the many challenge’s refugees face include physical and psychological effects of trauma, language and literacy difficulties, identity and social belonging issues, as well as challenges adapting to a new environment.
Sport programs as a tool for integration aim to keep refugees physically and mentally healthy, develop relationships, and engage with the community. By being a part of such a setting, it allows refugees to learn about the new culture while preserving their own cultural identities. Sports and recreational opportunities can be used as a means to empower children, build their self-esteem and self-confidence. The opportunity to play and have fun is significant after years of suffering and violence in their homelands. It further provides youth to be maximize their childhood experience by having a pleasant and vibrant experience. Sport can promote the well-being and safety of refugees. It also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about refugees and to learn about their culture, traditions, and lived experiences.