Soccer Without Borders – An alternative school for young refugees, built around football


Uganda is host to over 1.5m refugees and asylum seekers, of which 60% are children [1]. Less than half of these children attend school [2].

Soccer Without Borders (SWB) in the Ugandan capital, Kampala has created a unique space for children and young people under the age of 25 who face barriers to learning in school, both in terms of language and cost. Drawn to the project by their shared love of football, refugees learn English, develop key skills and build up their confidence in a safe and welcoming environment.

AFDP Global has partnered with SWB to develop the next generation of young coaches in Kampala. Most of the new cohort of coaches will be drawn from existing graduates of SWB Kampala. Coaches will be trained to harness their own skills and experience, giving other young refugees hope for the future and a chance of a better life through football-based education.

Training new coaches is the key to securing the future of SWB Kampala and will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Learning Centre, which currently hosts educational activities 6 days a week, 44 weeks a year. Coaches are learning how best to deliver football-based programmes that engage young refugees with education, as well as supporting them to overcome trauma. Coaches receive regular training sessions covering vital subjects including conflict resolution, effective communication and trauma-informed care.

Through football, the growth of this alternative school for young refugees has been remarkable. Started eleven years ago by three refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the programme now serves over 450 young people each year.

[1] UNHCR Uganda Operation Country Statistics, RIMS, June 2018.