‘Active integration’: sport clubs taking an active role in the integration of refugees

Mark Doidge, Marc Keech, Elisa Sandri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the context of the global migrant and refugee crisis there is considerable enthusiasm for the notion that participation by migrants of refugee background in community sport can play a role in fostering a sense of community belonging. Sport potentially is an opportunity for refugees to integrate (with each other and host communities). Community sports organisations in the UK - and specifically sports clubs - continually face challenges to devote resources to social policy outcomes beyond increasing sport participation. This article argues that the active approach of coaches, volunteers and managers to consciously manage inclusive sport activities is central for the integration of refugees. Utilising a mixed methods approach, this study analysed the impact of one sports club that used table tennis to promote the active integration of refugees. The study found three significant areas of impact: first, an active approach from coaches can facilitate integration; second, such an approach should be conducted in a safe, enjoyable and welcoming environment; and that sport is a positive social activity for youths with a refugee background if the focus of the activity centres on fun and social interaction, rather than just sporting skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 305-319
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics on 28/01/2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/19406940.2020.1717580


  • Refugees
  • Sport
  • Integration
  • sport clubs
  • active integration
  • forced migrants
  • community sport


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