New network unites Integration of Refugees Through Sport initiatives

By Rachel Payne, ISCA

Posted June 20, 2020

On World Refugee Day, ISCA is launching a brand new network in the field of Integration of Refugees Through Sport (IRTS). The network will establish and help maintain links between project leaders supported by the European Commission and managers of similar initiatives across Europe, with the aim of highlighting and spreading good practice. The IRTS Networking Platform is supported by the EU to unite IRTS initiatives and build organisations’ and individuals’ capacities to achieve more impact through online and offline learning and mentoring opportunities.

ISCA has invited 69 organisations from 20 countries that have run or are running EU-supported IRTS projects to start building the IRTS Network. Their representatives will gather for the first time on Tuesday 23 June at an online conference featuring guest speakers from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Italy’s largest sport for all NGO working with refugees UISP International and the EU Sport Unit, and Iranian refugee Ali Noghandoost, who is a candidate for the Tokyo Olympics in Taekwondo.

Open calls will be released over the coming months for other organisations to join the network through a mentoring programme, an awards scheme and an international conference.

Uniting and scaling tested solutions to a global challenge

Since 2016, these diverse projects have looked at different ways of facilitating the integration of refugees through grassroots sport. Thousands of stakeholders located across Europe have therefore been dedicated to creating and delivering solutions to a global challenge.

This is because world is experiencing the highest levels of forced displacement on record, with more than 70 million people having had to flee their homes. Large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers face exclusion, lack of livelihood opportunities, and grave risks to their mental and physical health. Globally, 3 out of 4 refugees have lived in exile for more than 5 years, many for more than 20 years.

This situation calls for human and innovative ways to enhance the inclusion and integration of refugees. Civil society has an important role to play in addressing this. Sport and physical activity can be a powerful tool for inclusion, relief, health promotion, and human connection. It is the time to take the next steps to scale tested solutions from the sport and physical activity sector to the benefit of refugees and society!

Strength in numbers

By creating a community of likeminded organisations, the IRTS Networking Platform will help these organisations discover their strength in numbers by offering in-person and online opportunities to meet, learn, inspire each other and gain more visibility for their initiatives.

The IRTS Networking Platform consists of four strands of opportunities:

  • Mentoring programme: Connecting people who have experience in running IRTS initiatives with those who are just starting out, or are looking for some advice to make a bigger impact. (open call out June 2020)
  • Award scheme: Recognising initiatives and partnerships that have made an impact in their communities. (coming in 2021)
  • Online courses: 3 new online courses will equip solution-providers with tested approaches, expert and peer-to-peer tips from the field, and avenues to support and funding. (first course coming in November 2020)
  • Events: In October 2021, we want to deliver the biggest stakeholder congress so far for Integration of Refugees Though Sport in the context of the MOVE Congress: (more news coming soon). This will be followed by a promotional event in 2022.

The IRTS Networking Platform will be a dynamic and growing community for organisations whose mutual mission is to work towards the Integration of Refugees Through Sport. We are proud to be able to provide an online platform for the exchange of ideas, expertise and potential solutions to stimulate the debate and new partnerships.

The IRTS Networking Platform is co-financed by the European Commission under its ‘EAC Sport as a Tool for Integration’ funding stream.

Visit the IRTS Networking Platform

Please feel free to contact the following ISCA staff for more information about the different elements of the IRTS Networking Platform.

For general inquiries about Integration of Refugees Through Sport (IRTS):


ISCA Head of Projects
Integration of Refugees Through Sport Project Manager

For inquiries about the IRTS Mentoring Programme:


IRTS Mentoring Programme Coordinator

For inquiries about the online learning courses:


ISCA Online Learning Coordinator

To join the IRTS Network: