Five winners in the UN’s annual Youth with Refugees Art Contest will see their designs printed on footballs and sold to the public to raise funds for refugees. From each football sold, £15 will go to the UN refugee agency to provide sports equipment and facilities to refugees, offering them a source of solace in difficult times.
A third of the 1,600 submissions were from young artists who had themselves experienced displacement. From the five selected by the judges, three are refugees, including Nadira, a 16-year-old Afghan refugee living in India.
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“I was born a differently abled person,” explained Nadira. “The sport world makes us, especially refugees and people who are called disabled but not differently abled, endeavour for the best. I wanted to show how sport can transform people’s lives along with bringing hope and joy to everyone, everywhere”
The other four were James, a 10-year-old Irish football fan; Hala, a 12-year-old Palestine refugee in Saudi Arabia; Gerald, a 23-year-old refugee footballer from Cameroon living in Italy and advising the Special Olympics; and Skarly, a 12-year old Venezuelan living in a temporary shelter in Brazil.
The power of sport
Not-for-profit ball manufacturer Alive and Kicking will produce and sell the footballs, sending some of the profits to support refugees and vulnerable adults in Sub-saharan Africa.
CEO of Alive and Kicking Ben Sadler explained: “Not only will [the contest] showcase the fantastic art and design skills of young refugees and supporters across the globe, it will also support ethical employment at Alive and Kicking’s centres while giving thousands of young people access to sport.”
A judging panel of athletes, sport journalists and artists selected the five winners in this contest.
Canadian football player, former refugee and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Alphonso Davies, said: “The designs were very powerful. It’s amazing to see the vision of these kids and how they perceive a united society.”
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The Youth with Refugees Art Contest was launched in 2020 by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHR. Last year entrants submitted animations designed around the theme “everyone counts in the fight against COVID-19, including refugees.”
The footballs will be on sale on aliveandkicking.org/dreamball till the end of October 2021.