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Refugee integration via soccer

Refugee integration via soccer


As the refugee crisis unravels in Europe and anti refugee sentiments rise in some countries, refugee children have borne the brunt of the situation.

The UN and some other countries have made efforts to integrate refugee children.

Soccer without borders is also working to integrate refugee children through play.

21-year-old Heman Rai, originally from Bhutan has benefited from the initiative in the U.S state of Baltimore.

Herman joined the programme in 2008 when he had no knowledge of the English language.

“You don’t have to know the language, each other’s language. You can just play and just have fun and make friends. It’s easy. You don’t have to know English or you don’t have to know the other person’s language. You just play,” said Rai, who graduated from SWB and became one of the program’s summer staff members.

“Our mission is to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change, so trying to help newcomer youth, refugees, asylees and immigrants overcome the obstacles they face in terms of their growth, inclusion in their new communities and personal success either academically or just life in general”, added Casey Thomas, Director of SWB – Baltimore.

The Baltimore chapter of Soccer without Borders’ serves refugee youth from 17 different countries, including four of the top five countries with the most refugee arrivals in the U.S. – Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Through the program, Herman says he was able to get the motivation and assistance to pursue a four-year degree and looks forward to starting another Soccer without Borders’ chapter elsewhere.

“I’m inspired by some people who have dedicated their life and time to support and help kids like me. I’m really grateful for the people who have done that. I’m inspired and I just want to follow in their footsteps and try to do the same thing for other kids like me and other people like me”, Rai said.

World leaders are preparing to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly for a summit on the global refugee crisis.

The opportunity for education is one of the goals of the summit and that’s something very important to Soccer without Borders.

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