Video: Our Integration of Refugees Through Sport journey continues


Rachel Payne and Mogens Kirkeby, ISCA

ISCA started working in the field of Integration of Refugees Through Sport (IRTS) in 2016 and this six-year journey has not only brought us into contact with sport and humanitarian organisations, inspiring leaders who were once refugees and young refugees who were trying to settle into their host countries, it also evolved into an online learning and Networking Platform, and a range of training and promotional resources. We received valuable insights into the inclusion and support of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine in the midst of the most current crises, and we continue to offer our help through new projects and initiatives such as Sport for Ukraine. 

On the eve of the final dissemination conference for the IRTS Networking Platform project on 23 November in Brussels, Belgium, ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby looks back at our collaborative achievements with established organisations, mentors and young mentees, and the refugees themselves. This is his story, and the transcript to our latest video.

Mogens Kirkeby, ISCA President: “The world is experiencing its highest levels of forced displacement on record, with more than 100 million people today having had to flee their homes. Many live in uncertain situations with lack of opportunities and with grave risks to their mental and physical health. 

Individuals and civil society entities in the sport sector have a role to play in addressing this – and they do!

Thousands of stakeholders and partners located across Europe are dedicated to creating and delivering solutions to this international challenge.”

Jacob Schouenborg, ISCA Secretary General: “That’s the beauty, actually, of local activities, that if there are Ukrainian refugees in your community or neighbourhood, I’m sure there are also local associations or sport clubs or schools where you contribute. Either you can contribute financially, maybe you can volunteer to help organise activities. And it might seem like a big barrier, but it’s really just to open the door – talk to your neighbours, find the local associations and people who are engaged in this situation and you’ll find that there are many willing to help.”

Mogens Kirkeby: “The Integration of Refugees Through Sport Networking Platform is both a Network and a Platform.

It is a Network of local ‘do’ers’, supporting associations and international organisations.

It is a Platform for guidance, inspiration and recognition of those assisting refugees to have better lives and integrate into their new communities and societies.”

Khalida Popal, Girl Power Organisation Founder and former Afghan refugee: “The beautiful network and power of sport helped me to get the support for my girls back in Afghanistan, to help them to get them outside of Afghanistan.” (watch her full MOVE Congress keynote speech here)

Mogens Kirkeby: “It is created by 90 partners and operating stakeholders and made possible by support from the European Union.

Guidance and inspiration
The Networking Platform includes a Mentoring Programme where experienced people, over a year-long process, act as mentors for mentees who want to improve their knowledge and skills.

It includes an online learning programme with free courses ranging from basic training to learning from the experts and to hone skills in the advocacy of Integration of Refugees Through Sport.

Support and recognition
Nothing happens without good people. The IRTS Networking Platform offers online meetings for these many good people, and, more importantly, physical meetings where refugees, former refugees and dedicated individuals meet with the desire to share, inspire and motivate. 

Show what we want to be and who we are!
Thank you to all of you who are working in the Integration of Refugees through Sport for sharing, inspiring and showing the human side of sport and voluntary commitments.

Integration of Refugees through Sport is a picture of our human side. The attempts, the efforts, and the attitudes of sport organisations show what we want to be and who we are.”

This video is a snapshot of our journey with the Integration of Refugees Through Sport projects and Networking Platform we have created so far. In October 2022 it was launched at the Integration of Refugees Through Sport Side Event of the Ministerial Conference of Sport Ministers of the Council of Europe in Turkey. In 2023 we will continue this work with new projects such as We Play Together and with organisations such as UNHCR, V4Sport and others who are leading the way in this field.

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