Sport plays a vital role in communities and people’s lives across the globe. Sport transcends boundaries and has been a burgeoning presence in humanitarian settings for as long as UNHCR has been working with people forced to flee conflict and persecution.
For forcibly displaced people, sport can be transformational; it can create new opportunities, provide protection, bridge divides, empower communities and serve as a catalyst for inclusion, helping refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people connect with their new communities. For people displaced by conflict or persecution, sport is ‘More than a Game’.
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Across the UK, communities are getting involved to support refugees around the world through their love of sport. From taking on arduous cycling challenges, to swimming in iconic London parks, the message has been clear: the British public stands with refugees.
This year we have seen the might of Premier League football ensure that families fleeing conflict are not forgotten as Nottingham Forest FC partners with UK for UNHCR to support global relief efforts and awareness raising. The UK club joins a growing number of other international teams such as FC Barcelona and AS Roma in supporting forcibly displaced people.
The announcement of the Nottingham Forest partnership was widely supported by fans who have flocked to its stores to add the UK for UNHCR logo to their shirt and donate as a sign of solidarity.
Through this partnership for good, both the Nottingham Forest men’s and women’s teams are proudly wearing UK for UNHCR’s logo on the front of their shirts at all fixtures, as a sign of solidarity for families who have been forced to flee their homes. The club also made a generous donation and is using its wide-reaching commercial and marketing channels to drive awareness of UNHCR’s humanitarian work, such as the delivery of emergency shelter, medical aid, water and sanitation when families are forced from their homes by conflict and persecution.
This isn’t the first time sports enthusiasts have used their abilities to support refugees. UK for UNHCR supporters and community fundraisers such as James Overton, Theo Foster, and South East Parakeets FC among others have all used their talent and reach to support refugees. After his fundraising efforts were uprooted by the COVID-19 lockdown, James Overton went the extra mile to continue raising money by walking 500,000 steps in just one month; in his efforts to highlight the plight of refugees, keen cyclist Theo Foster cycled a lap of the world; South East Parakeets FC held a football challenge to raise money and awareness to support refugees and displaced families from Afghanistan.
Cyclist Theo Foster takes shade in the desert in Uzbekistan. Theo Foster has been a cycling enthusiast for years and says he enjoys pushing himself.
UK for UNHCR fundraiser James Overton pictured ahead of his swim from Land’s End to the Isles of Scilly.
Other professional athletes continue to support refugees through their sport. Wenyen Gabriel, a former refugee from South Sudan who now plays basketball for the L.A. Lakers, uses his past experiences and reach to amplify key UNHCR campaigns. And Alphonso Davies, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador who was born in a refugee in Ghana after his parents fled conflict in Liberia, has supported the launch of a Canadian government campaign to promote access to quality education for refugees.
Sport is a tool for protection and promotion of youth development, education, social integration and wellbeing. In other words, sport is much more than a game.
Are you a sports enthusiast looking to support refugees through your club, or looking to take on a challenge individually? We’ll be there to support you along the way.
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