How football can help displaced people ‘heal, develop and grow’

Goal Click Refugees is a photo and text series that gives unheard voices a platform to share their experiences of displacement through the language of football.

Image copyright

Image caption

A girls’ football team run by the UNICEF Makani programme in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan

Created by the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) and Goal Click (a football story-telling and photo project), the new series aims to raise awareness of the rising levels of forced displacement.

Photos and stories have been collected from 25 participants across five continents, for World Refugee Day on 20 June. They’ve come from refugee camps in Jordan, Kenya and South Sudan, and from football fields from London to Sydney.

Children play football outdoorsImage copyright
Abdelrahman Hasan al Attar

Image caption

Children play football in the neighbourhood of Hashem Shemali, in East Amman, Jordan. Many in the area have Palestinian heritage

Each participant was given a disposable film camera to capture the realities of their football lives and communities.

A football player puts his boots onImage copyright

Image caption

A player on a football field outside Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan

A group of children hold a placardImage copyright
David Philip

Image caption

Children helped by the Green Kordofan charity in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan

The photos and stories show how football helped the refugees and asylum seekers find their feet and rebuild their lives in new societies after the trauma and confusion of displacement.

A group of football players watch by the side of the pitchImage copyright
Sadio Malang

Image caption

Senza Frontiere Football Club, formed by refugees and asylum seekers, in Turin, Italy, at the Balon Mundial, the World Cup of Migrant Communities

“For young men and women uprooted by war or persecution, sport is much more than a leisure activity,” said Dominique Hyde, global head of External Relations at UNHCR.

“[Sport is] an opportunity to be included and protected – a chance to heal, develop and grow.”

A goalkeeper stands in a goalImage copyright

Image caption

TuS Koblenz, a team playing in the fifth division in Germany, formed a team for refugees living in Koblenz, to give them the chance to integrate into German society and establish a new life

Founder of Goal Click, Matthew Barrett, added: “This series aims to challenge existing stereotypes and give an intimate look into refugees’ football lives, in a way that no-one from outside these communities could do.”

Children trainingImage copyright
Yvan Bikambo

Image caption

Refugee children train at the Public School of Bindia in East Cameroon – organised by Red Deporte, an NGO which uses football to improve school performance and health.

A coach poses for the cameraImage copyright
Saleha Kashfi

Image caption

Kicken ohne Grenzen football club in Vienna, Austria. Team Birkenwiese is made up of refugee girls who play once a week.

A football team huddle on the pitchImage copyright

Image caption

Team Austria at the 2019 Homeless World Cup in Cardiff, Wales.

Football players sit on the ground on a football pitchImage copyright
Samuel Gedeon

Image caption

RIFA (Rooklyn International Football Association) is an organisation based in Brooklyn, New York City, which uses soccer to work with refugees and asylum seekers.

Girls train on a football pitchImage copyright

Image caption

Girls play football at Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.

Goal Click Refugees is a year-long campaign that will culminate in a physical photo exhibition.

All photographs courtesy UNHCR and Goal Click