Considering the personal challenges of refugees


4.5. Examples of good practice

In previous chapters we have highlighted refugees and migrants who have been successful in sport in their adopted country and projects and initiatives which have been used to increase the interaction between different cultures in a beneficial way. Below you will find examples of sports organisations who have adopted an open-minded approach and made their organisations more accessible.


Culture Project Östersunds FK - Swedish football club

Target Group First team and youth team The first football club in Sweden to be LGBTQ-certified.
Implementing Organisation Östersunds FK - Swedish football club
Location Östersunds, Sweden
Time / Duration Founded in 1996
Objectives Östersunds FK has made itself a name in Europe through its unorthodox approach to culture in combination with football.
Structure / Design The club has put a lot of focus on norms and the culture they have within the organisation. They are the first football club in Sweden to be LGBTQ certified - a four-step process involving looking at a club’s culture, norms, division of resources, jargon etc. in order to make it more inclusive. The club management is convinced that taking these steps is one reason for the club’s improved performance on the pitch over the past few seasons.
Impact / Outcome

In only a few years they have gone from the fourth division in Swedish football to the top tier, playing in the Europa League knock-out stage in the 2017/2018 campaign.

The Culture Project - which has seen the first team put on theatre shows, art exhibitions and dance performances such as Swan Lake.

Lessons learned The club is convinced that by exploring culture and engaging their players in cultural experiences they can change the dynamic in the group and, in the long run, yield better results on the pitch. One of the challenges that remains is to start a women’s team to encourage more women to be part of the club.



Welcome Here Swedish Basketball Federation

Target Group A number of basketball clubs had noticed an increase in unaccompanied refugee children and together they decided to specifically target this group to improve inclusion.
Implementing Organisation Swedish Basketball Federation which was founded in 1952. There are 370 basketball clubs with approximately 50,000 members.
Location Sweden
Time / Duration Welcome Here was initiated by The Swedish Basketball Federation in April 2015.
Objectives During 2014 a number of basketball clubs had noticed an increase in unaccompanied refugee children and together they decided to specifically target this group for inclusion. Basketball came to Sweden through refugees - when Latvians and Estonians fled from Hitler and Stalin they brought basketball to their new country. The sport has continued to evolve following an influx of immigrants from strong basketball countries like Greece, Turkey, the US and the Balkans. Diversity has always been a part of the sport’s DNA and 50% of the children and young people that play basketball in Sweden today have a background other than Swedish . So why was a special project needed if inclusion is already such a natural part of the sport? Because not everyone who came to Sweden had a background within the sport. Many of them came from Afghanistan, a country which has been a war zone for many years. So the project focused on young people who were also beginners. It started out being specifically aimed at refugees but later grew to include local teens who wanted to try the sport.
Structure / Design

The project involved 22 clubs all over the country and the idea was to:

a) Find and invite unaccompanied refugee children to regular meetings/training sessions (at least a couple of times a week)
b) Develop methods and tools to help with introduction, inclusion and involvement
c) Gather and spread the knowledge that the different basketball clubs had about integration and sports d) Increase understanding and tolerance towards refugees.

Impact / Outcome

One reason why the project has been so successful is that the clubs themselves have been able to decide what sort of activities to offer. 

Lessons learned TThe clubs all have basketball as their foundation, but they have been able to tailor their offer to best suit the children they have around them. Challenges remain today, because some clubs are still struggling to find the space and time to accommodate the beginners’ groups. Capacity is a problem in many sports, and basketball is no different. 


Implementing Organisation Rising You – “We climb. We rise. We shine.”
Cooperation / Partners
  • Sport Flanders
  • Social Innovation Factory
  • Ashoka
  • Incontrol
  • National Lottery
  • Flemish Agency Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Structure / Design Rising You guides young refugees to challenging jobs at height. As a painter of high-voltage pylons, as a supplier of telecom installations or as a maintenance technician on windmills. Adventurous jobs, tailored to these enterprising young people. The scheme provides active guidance to employers who are looking for temporary or permanent staff for assignments at height.
URL of the practice



Minor-Ndako Sport. Let me play! Indoor football team On the run. Running team.

Target Group

Keep calm, play cricket. Cricket team. Minor-Ndako offers specialised care and helps children and youngsters who find themselves in problematic living situations. It focuses on children from all over the world, in particular the most vulnerable among them. Most of them are unaccompanied minors and young refugees between 10 and 20 years old.

Participation and inclusion in society are the cornerstones of our approach. The programme assures qualitative aid and offers children and youngsters a warm nest that gives them energy and power to go on with their lives. With persistent engagement the scheme aims to find a durable solution for each of them.

In general, Minor-Ndako offers two types of help: residential care in small living units (max of 12 youngsters per group, boys and girls, age-related, open 24h/7 days a week) and assisted living (16 years or older, focus on integration/self-reliance/autonomy). In total it offers specialized care and help for approximately 150 minors.

n 2014, under the Minor-Ndako wing, the organisation started its own sports unit, Minor-Ndako Sports. Currently it has: - an indoor football team in the Brussels indoor football league - a running team (participates in 10 running events yearly, in Brussels) - and a cricket team (weekly training and friendly matches).

About 40 young refugees are involved in these three teams. 

Implementing Organisation Minor-Ndako
Cooperation / Partners

Governmental partners

  • VGC  (Vlaamse Gemeenschaps Commissie)
  • GOB (Gewestelijk overheidsdienst Brussel).

Private partner: Think Talent

School: Sint-Niklaasinstitiuut Anderlecht.

Sport partners:

  • Football club Drogenbos Beersel (for the organisation of a yearly indoor football tournament on a synthetic field)
  • Other running groups in Brussels (les gazelles de Bruxelles, etc.)

There are several centres in Brussels and Flanders (Leuven, Aalst, Gent, Sint-Niklaas, Kortrijk and Dilbeek).

Minor-Ndako has been recognized by The Flemish Government within the framework of Integrale Jeugdhulp (Specialized Youth Care).

Most of the sport activities (training and matches) take place in Brussels.
The indoor football team plays in the Brussels indoor football league.
The cricket team trains in Brussels and plays friendlies in Flanders.
The running team trains and runs events in Brussels.
The Minor-Ndako centers of Aalst and Ghent have also started with weekly training.

Time / Duration

In 2014 Minor-Ndako started with taking part in the 20km of Brussels. It did this with a mix of youngsters and assistants. Since this race the organisation has kept on running until today.

In 2015 it started its indoor football team which has just finished its third season in competition. Next year it will add a second team in the competition.

In 2017 it started a cricket team.

Its aim is to be a structural sports club, focussing on the long term.


“One of the reasons Minor-Ndako Sport started is because youngsters find it difficult to gain access (for several reasons) to clubs and competitions in Brussels. Inclusion is important and the organisation believes that every youngster has the right to practice sport in clubs and competitions.

Beside this we also wanted to break the “bubble of youth care” where youngsters only play against other youngsters of other centers.

Through Minor-Ndako Sports we want to introduce sport to youngsters in a fun, challenging and healthy way. The focus lies on sports, relaxation and doing something together, everyone being away from their daily routine.

We made the conscious decision to focus on the social aspect of sports working towards a goal with the group. Sport is a good and powerful way of bringing people together, we want to use it as a binding factor. The language of sports is an international language. This is why we participate in sports events with a mixture of youngsters, educators and external participants (well-wishers or partners). The goal is to broaden the network of youngsters of Minor-Ndako and to give them the opportunity to get to know each other.

Even when youngsters are not in our care, they can still join our sport teams and activities.

With our sports teams we also want to implicitly focus on group and individual skills of youngsters and to empower them. For example, functioning in a team, being able to give positive feedback, fair play, respecting adversaries, referees and teammates, coping with loss, dealing with critics and aggression, persistence, self-control and dealing with frustrations, respecting agreements and becoming independent; etc.

We also want to signal certain problems facing youngsters to government and society, represent unaccompanied minors and defend their rights, etc.”

Structure / Design

Each sports team is led by an exterior coach, an educator of Minor-Ndako and, if possible, a youngster who was in the past helped by Minor-Ndako.

Each sports team (cricket, indoor football and running group) trains weekly.

The teams train and play in good quality, customised sportswear.

A big challenge was (and still is) making Minor-Ndako Sport successful in the long term. Key factors for realizing this were:

  • Minor-Ndako created a full-time “sport coordinator” position.. This is unique in  Belgium’s youth care.
  • Good (voluntary) trainers who have both good sports knowledge, and knowledge of the target group.
  • People from the Minor-Ndako community (ex-youngsters, etc.) who become role modelsand trainers.

Having good partners who believe in Minor-Ndako Sport and the youngsters of Minor-Ndako. Having enough finances and training in good sport facilities is a big challenge in Brussels. Thanks to partners, this is possible.

Impact / Outcome

The sports teams of Minor-Ndako are organised and founded in a different way than the “traditional” sports clubs.  Like other sports teams it plays in official Belgian leagues or participates in official sports events. But the core of teams are the youngsters of Minor-Ndako and young refugees. Other people from outside Minor-Ndako can join.

That makes that teams feel safer for participants and the step to participate and practice sports is much lower. This is the way a lot of youngsters start with sports. A lot of them have never played in a club or competition but now they train and play weekly.

Sport also makes you physically and mentally stronger. It’s the perfect outlet, an opportunity to let go of everything and think of nothing. It lowers stress levels and reduces anxiety and depression. Plus it gives you more energy.

Sport also gives the youngsters of Minor-Ndako a way of dealing with psycho-social problems, that might be easier than just speaking with a psychologist.

Sport allows the youngsters of Minor-Ndako to come in contact with other “Belgian teams”, people who join the organisation, or who play in the same competition. People that they would otherwise never have met.    

Lessons learned

Start something with your target group. The sports team has to be their team: our sports teams have been created for them and by them.

Use role models from their own community (e.g. Minor-Ndako’s cricket team is led by two Afghan trainers).

Involve youngsters in the whole of the club (and not only as players): second trainer, delegate,…

Build a community of partners around your club who can help/invest and believe in what you are doing (see next point).

Each sports team is ideally led by a “Belgian trainer” and someone of their own community.




“Cricket – Ein Stück Heimat in Bielefeld”
(„Cricket – a piece of home in Bielefeld”)
Freie Turn- und Sportvereinigung Ost e.V. 
(Short: TuS Ost)

Bleichstraße 151a
33607 Bielefeld
Tel: +49 (0)521 37922

[email protected],
Target Group

Number of participants: about 30 participants. Over the years about 80 young people participated.

The target group is unaccompanied minor refugees from countries in which cricket is popular and anyone who likes to play cricket. The project is open to all genders, nationalities and ages.

Cooperation / Partners

  • AWO-Clearinghouse for young refugees
  • Sport office City of Bielefeld
  • DCB – Deutscher Cricket Bund (German Cricket Association)
LSB NRW e.V. (regional sport umbrella organization)

Bielefeld, Germany

Time / Duration

Started in April 2013 and will continue for as long as people want to play.


The aim is to integrate unaccompanied minor refugees into sport structures. The unique point is that the cricket team was founded with the initiative of unaccompanied minor refugees. TuS Ost is an accessible and open organization and gives support when it is needed. The team was the first of its kind within a radius of 200 km.

Impact / Outcome


  • Integration of unaccompanied minor refugees entering a local sport club
  • Unaccompanied minor refugees get a social “home” by doing their sport
  • A more than 120-year-old sports club has invented a new version of the sport
  • Public attention for the club
  • The club has new contacts including social actors and foundations


  • No native Germans have joined the team (until now)
  • There is a trend towards mono-ethnic team-members, like in many other teams in Germany
Still searching for a permanent playground
Lessons learned

Sport clubs can reach new members of society, therefore they must open their clubs to their ideas and their way of doing sport. Clubs cannot shut ourselves off, that is the way to develop our clubs in a changing society. 

URL (Seite 22 ff.)

Facebook: TuS Ost Cricket Club



Sport Club Urania e.V.

Women Sport Internationally
Target Group

People with migrant backgrounds, especially women.

Cooperation / Partners

Sport Club Urania e.V. is a base camp sport club of the German Olympic Sport Confederation DOSB in the federal program “Integration Through Sport”.


Hamburg, Germany


In the framework of this section the club offers special bike and swimming courses. By creating a secure and comfortable atmosphere for sport practice for women, the club has enabled their active participation in life.

Impact / Outcome

Through sport women not only have a healthier lifestyle. They also learn a lot about their new society, its culture, rules and its possibilities for them as women. A big focus of bike courses is on the theory. The club actively involves migrant women in its work. At the moment two Muslim women are members of the club’s board. Through these activities and engagement the women get new contacts and opportunities for their start in Germany. SC Urania has a big network of partners and is known through its special and successful project for migrant women. In 2014 the club was awarded with Fritz-Bauer-Prize.




Sport Club FC Ente Bagdad (Duck Bagdad)

Target Group

People with migrant backgrounds, especially women.

Cooperation / Partners

Sport Club FC Ente Bagdad (Duck Bagdad)is a base camp sport club of the German Olympic Sport Confederation DOSB in the federal program “Integration Through Sport”. Founded in 1973 the sport club Ente Bagdad is a unique club addressing cohesion, solidarity, tolerance and friendship more than sporting success. The slogan of the club is “You’ll never watschel alone!” (You’ll never waddle alone!”). The activities of the club are 100% based on voluntary work. The main objectives of the club are:

  • low-threshold soccer offers;
  • integration of unaccompanied minors;
  • promotion of respect and acceptance towards refugees in the society;
  • offers promoting interaction between land and people from different cultures;
  • team building measures for the sake of inter-religious understanding;
  • sharing of responsibilities between local and migrant population;
  • involvement of unaccompanied minors in training organisation;
  • qualification of facilitators towards the issues of interculturalism;
  • support of members with migrant backgrounds outside of the sport area (official appointments; medical issues, assistance by applications etc.).

Aiming to treat every person equally the sports club developed it’s own set of rules as a guarantee for this. Some rules are:

  • no physical or mental violence;
  • respectful treatment of everyone, independently of the age, colour of skin, culture, religion etc.
  • punctuality;
  • respect and inviolability of coaches and trainers.

In addition to this, migrant members are also obligated to pay a member fee the same way the local population does. However, the fee is smaller and corresponds to the income of migrant people.

Thus, all these small rules prevent discrepancy between local and the newly arrived population and contribute to the intercultural learning.

The sports club also has a very active social life. It participates in big public events making statements with regard to the topic of diversity and the role of sports and other social organisations in it.

For its special engagement the sports club has been awarded several times with different prizes: 2006 Europe special prize; Respect award 2010, Sport initiative prize of city of Mainz 2016; Egidius Braun Foundation 2016 & 2017.



Rugby United - open rugby training for refugees in Cologne, Germany.
A part of Rugby Sport Verein (RSV) Cologne.

Target Group

The participants are mixed-gender and their age currently ranges from 6 to 15 years. They participate in the contact sport, rugby union. In each training session there are 10-20 children, depending on the transport options available. In the two years that the project has been running, there have been different boys and girls trying out rugby, but many of them have learned to love this sport and the club so they come to sessions every week.

Implementing Organisation

Rugby Sport Verein (RSV) Cologne, Rugby United

Cooperation / Partners


  • Ministerium für Kinder, Familie, Flüchtlinge und Integration des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (KOMM-AN NRW)
  • Buderus

The RSV Cologne including its social initiative Rugby United is based in Cologne, Germany. For now, activities are carried out in this city only, which is located in North Rhine-Westphalia. In Cologne, all refugee homes are offered the chance to play. The training is carried out by rugby players from RSV Cologne.

Time / Duration

Rugby United has been running for almost two years and is always aiming to improve itself. It was started in September 2016 and the goals that were set in the beginning have partly been achieved during these two years. Firstly, the programme has become very popular amongst children, including the shared meal afterwards, the club events, non-sport activities and the rules and social framework that has been created over time. The children have made friends with the youth teams of the club through training together, visiting club events like the summer party or participating in the yearly rugby summer camp with other children. The training is also a welcome distraction from the refugee’s often difficult every-day life. Another important point is the values of rugby, which we try to transmit through our training: fair-play, respect and discipline amongst others. By applying rituals and rules in training, the coaches feel that these values can be transmitted and that Rugby United contributes to socialisation processes. Lastly, the communicative and social character of rugby can be conveyed by adding cooking, eating together and other social get-togethers to our programme.

Objective of the Good Practice

The overarching aim of Rugby United is to contribute to the social integration of refugees in Germany, for instance by enhancing friendships and social contacts and also reducing stereotypes and sensitising the host community. The RSV Cologne is open and accessible to everyone, because sport clubs in Germany are in general open to all people, independent of their social background, religion, political affiliation etc. Besides, the global rugby family is popular for its openness around the world.

Structure / Design

The initiative was designed by four members and active rugby players of the sport club RSV. It has been running on a voluntary basis until now and depends on donations and grants from the sport sector. The main challenge was to target the social exclusion of refugees in Germany. This was targeted by offering an integrative sport programme and linking the open training to other club events and providing contact with other peers. The uptake was positive without exception. The programme was supported by the whole club and by other people saying how valuable and great this programme is. The programme regularly receives media attention, for instance by radio reports or film producers.

Impact / Outcome

The impact on the regularly participating children has been great in terms of spending their leisure time meaningfully, burning off energy in training and making friends across cultures. As the training is open for boys and girls, we don’t make a difference between the genders, and try to keep the numbers equal. By applying special rules, both boys and girls are equally involved in the programme. We claim that Rugby United contributes to the participant’s wellbeing and often benefits them psychosocially. 

Lessons learned

Learning by doing! Since the programme started two years ago, much has been advanced through the lessons learned. Rules have been implemented and are respected, the nature of the target group has been developed positively and they are much more peaceful than in the beginning and now respect each other. The children have been involved in several events and activities in the club, giving them a feeling of belonging. Also the people engaged in the programme have done incredible work and are always open for further educating themselves, for instance by visiting violence-prevention seminars.



Interesting links for further reading/watching

Role models




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