Sport & wellbeing: young people from refugee backgrounds

Community sport and leisure programs for young people from refugee backgrounds, London, UK

Peer-reviewed research article: Robyn Smith, Dr Louise Mansfield, and Dr Emma Wainwright

While being forced to flee your home country at the hands of conflict, climate emergency or persecution brings unique trauma, resettlement brings new and complex challenges. In this article, the author’s question the role community sport and leisure programs might play in supporting youth form refugee backgrounds. Their approach is based on Participant Action Research, in partnership with a London-based refugee charity. Here’s the abstract:


Young people from refugee backgrounds have been repeatedly denied the ability to lead a life that they value. Community sport and leisure has been positioned as a tool to foster positive wellbeing experiences for these young people living in Western resettlement countries. Drawing on qualitative data from a Participatory Action Research project in London, England, we apply Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach to examine how the young people made sense of and negotiated their interconnecting capabilities through the sport and leisure programme. We examine three key interconnections between the capabilities of (a) life, bodily health and play; (b) affiliation and emotion and (c) bodily integrity and control over the environment. The findings are significant in ensuring sport and leisure provides opportunities for young people from refugee backgrounds to engage in positive wellbeing experiences and for enabling them and those supporting them to know and challenge harmful practices that may restrict capabilities.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2023 in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport.

Full reference //

Smith, R., Mansfield, L., & Wainwright, E. (2023). ‘Do know harm’: Examining the intersecting capabilities of young people from refugee backgrounds through community sport and leisure programmes. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 0 (ahead of print). pp. 1 – 19. 

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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