From January to June 2017, our research partner, the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) has undertaken research through needs assessment, a rapid literature review and identification of best practices in order to ensure our project activities are evidence-based and to gain a better understanding of the context and needs of refugees and sports organisations. The research has resulted in the:

  • ASPIRE Delphi Survey,
  • ASPIRE Literature Review - Key Terms, and
  • ASPIRE Literature Review - Findings.

ASPIRE Delphi Survey

The needs assessment has been carried out with the help of a DELPHI survey, a systematic way of reaching consensus on a certain subject that has not been the topic of a lot of scientific research. The Delphi technique is a “widely used and accepted method for gathering data from respondents within their domain of expertise” (Hsu & Sandford, 2007).
In order to find out what experts believe about sport for refugees and to explore priorities and gaps, ICSSPE has set up an Expert Group in cooperation with ASPIRE project partners, and gathered opinions and feedback in 3 rounds through online questionnaires (11 experts in the first round + 16 additional experts in the second and third round). After analysing findings and identifying consensus, Katrin Koenen, ICSSPE Director of Scientific Affairs, and Richard Bailey, ICSSPE Senior Researcher, has revealed areas where there are the greatest needs for support for those using sport with refugees.
The findings have been incorporated into the development of the ASPIRE training module in order to cover all important strategies that represent best practice in engaging refugees through sports clubs.

13 strategies:

  • Including refugees in project development planning and delivery
  • Education and support for sports coaches and trainers
  • Planning for sustainability
  • Cultural sensitivity and openness to diversity
  • Principles of inclusion in sport and physical activity
  • Listening to refugees
  • Collaboration between organisations and agencies
  • Collaboration between areas of expertise
  • Breaking down stereotypes about refugees
  • Child protection
  • Understand the cultural and historical backgrounds of refugees
  • Funding and financing programmes
  • User-friendly information sharing


The ASPIRE Project Consortium would like to thank all contributors for joining our Expert Group and participating in the Delphi survey. Their answers have been valuable to us and for our further project activities:
Milena de Murga, Catalan Union of Sports Federations; Oliver Dudfield, Commonwelth Secretariat; Pieter Smets, Demos Belgium; Dr Philip Cook, International Institute for Child Rights & Development; Anita Vlasveld & Willie Westerhof, Knowledge Centre for Sport Netherlands; Sanna Pasanen, LIKES Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health; Niels Jespers, Rising Youth - Vertical Club; Dean Ravizza, Salisbury University; Lillemor Lindell, Swedish Sport Confederation; Jutta Engelhardt, formerly Swiss Academy for Development; Nick Sore, UNHCR in the HQ in Geneva - Adolescent and Youth; Cemens Ley, University of Vienna; Zeno Nols, Vrije Unveriteit Brussel

Pia Plasmans, Belgian Homeless Cup; Seppe De Bruyn, BX Community; Victoria Schwenzer, Camino Werkstatt; Roel Noukens, Community Sports for Vulnerable Children; Michael Leyendecker, ENGSO Youth and DOSB Youth; David Hudelist, Fairplay Initiative VIDC – Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation; Toon Delodder, Fedasil: The Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers; Annika Jaeger, Federal State Sports Federation Mecklenburg-Western-Pomerania; Dr Laura Lee, International Institute for Child Rights & Development; Marion Fermon, Kiron Open Higher Eduation for Refugees; Alberto Urbinati, Liberi Nantes – Free to Play; Abdul Alamyar, Omran Barikzai & Gijs Vercoutere, Minor-Ndako; Danica Ciric, NGO “484”; Tajana Zadravec, Refugee Aid Miksaliste Belgrade; Harley Hamdani, Scottish Football Association

ASPIRE Literature Review – Key Terms

When starting a project, it is always very important to be clear about the main terms used, since a lack of clarity can be the cause of unnecessary misunderstanding and confusion. Especially for ASPIRE with key words like health, well-being, physical activity, and sport, it is worthwhile clarifying how they will be used since their meanings matter, and misunderstandings can lead to confusion and misapplication of strategies. This is to assure that all project partners in their work, agree, and stick to shared understandings. An important innovation of the project is the definition of accessibility, which led to a unique working definition of accessible activity, sport and play.

For the purposes of the ASPIRE project, a series of clusters of important terms are considered:

  • Health
  • Sport, Physical Activity, and Play
  • Sport PLUS and PLUS Sport
  • Psychosocial Development
  • Migrants and Refugees
  • Integration and Inclusion
  • Accessibility

So, when reading the whole document the reader is requested to understand what follows as suggestions, not answers to what are quite often complicated debates!

Download "ASPIRE Key Terms"

ASPIRE Literature Review – Findings

Sport has been proposed as a possible way of helping immigrants deal with different challenges. The social integration of immigrants depends on two core strategies: firstly, the attitudes and actions of the immigrants, themselves, especially about their group characteristics – age, gender, educational level, and most importantly, their origin and generation – which determine the possibilities and efforts made to adapt to new surroundings; and secondly, the receiving society, and the steps it takes to incorporate the different cultural groups. Both forces can result in either hostility or hospitality. The ways in which sport and physical activity might mediate these challenges, and foster and facilitate positive outcomes for all, are discussed in the Findings of the ASPIRE Literature Review.

The ASPIRE Literature Review consists of two sections. First, the results of a rapid review search are presented. Methods used are explained and results of the relevant publications are run through the framework of questions developed for the needs of this review. Second, a narrative review on the state of immigration in Europe and potential of sport as a context to helping immigrants is presented.



Scientific Report Download





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