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  • Soccer Without Borders

Soccer Without Borders Joins the Sport for Refugees Coalition



Sport has the power to align our passion, energy and enthusiasm around a collective cause. And that is precisely when hope can be nurtured and trust can be regained. It is in our collective interest to harness the tremendous power of sport to help build a better and more sustainable future for all." - UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed


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Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is proud to be among the 140+ organizations committed to utilizing the power of sport to support refugees worldwide as members of the Sport for Refugee Coalition


The importance of such a coalition cannot be understated as global displacement continues to be one of the most urgent social issues of the 21st century. 


According to the latest Global Trends report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order. This is an increase of 19.2 million people from the previous year. 


And while children under the age of 18 only account for 30% of the world's population, they make up a staggering 40% of displaced people. This equates to over 43 million young people seeking safety, stability, and an opportunity to find a new home. 


While solutions to the crises driving displacement must be coordinated and come from the highest levels of global power, this does not mean there is nothing we can do. On the ground and in communities, we must work to align with like-minded organizations to welcome and support those most affected. 


As leaders in the sports-based youth development sector, SWB believes that positive change comes from the collective actions of many dedicated individuals and organizations contributing their skills, resources, networks, and passions every day. This is why we are honored to be a member of the Sport for Refugee Coalition—a collective movement of organizations dedicated to harnessing the power of sport to create positive, lasting change for refugees around the world.



The Birth of a Coalition


Birthed out of the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019 and co-convened by UNHCR, the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) and the Scort Foundation, the Sport for Refugees Coalition brings together more than 140 entities (listed here) from the world of sport, civil society, public and private sectors to extend access to sport to refugees and other displaced people around the world.


Each of these organizations have made a commitment to “provide sporting opportunities for young refugees,”  this includes pledges to:


  • Promote and ensure access for all refugees, without distinction of any kind, to safe and inclusive sporting facilities

  • Increase availability and access to organized sports and sport-based initiatives for refugee and hosting communities, actively considering age, gender, ability and other diversity needs

  • Promote and facilitate equal access to and participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions at all levels


In the period since the Global Refugee Forum, the Sport for Refugees Coalition has provided a platform for members to connect with others involved in sport with and for displaced and host communities, to share and learn from good practices, and acts as a focal point for joint communication and advocacy efforts promoting sport as an essential tool in displacement settings. (Adapted from sportanddev.org)



The SWB Impact


Every newcomer has a unique story to tell, but regardless of the circumstances that led to their arrival in a new community, they are immediately faced with a vast number of challenges which can often feel insurmountable. This is where SWB comes in. 


By leveraging soccer, the world's global language, newcomers have the opportunity to plug into a safe and welcoming space where, not only do they have the chance to play soccer, but also find community, build friendships, receive language and academic support, connect to local resources, and much more. 


Our recently published 2023 Annual Report shed light on the incredible impact SWB has made on refugee and newcomer youth this past year. In Fiscal Year 2023 alone:


  • 82 countries of origin and 46 languages were represented by SWB participants

  • 5,744 newcomer youth and marginalized girls served as program participants

  • 93% of participants reported feeling like they were part of the SWB community

  • 49% of SWB coaches identified as an immigrant, refugee, Nicaraguan, or Ugandan

  • 35% of SWB staff members and coaches were program alumni


As we continue to pursue our mission of using soccer as a vehicle for positive change, and now as members of the Sport for Refugee Coalition, we invite you to join us in making a difference. Whether you're an athlete, a coach, a supporter, or simply someone who believes in the power of sports to change lives, you can help us create a brighter future for refugees and newcomers around the world. 



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