The unique series collaborates with refugees and asylum seekers around the world to document their personal stories and experiences through football in refugee settlements, urban situations, and playing among their host communities.
Intimate photos and unfiltered stories came back from camps in Jordan, Kenya and South Sudan to the playing fields of London and Sydney, offering a platform to unheard voices and highlighting the experiences of refugees through the common language of football. The series features more than 25 male and female refugees across five continents.
Goal Click Refugees will be a year-long campaign, building towards a physical exhibition during the UEFA European Football Championship in 2021; more than 60 refugee stories in 20 countries are expected to be published during that time, straddling the period before and after COVID-19 lockdowns.
Launching just before Refugee Week in the UK (June 15-21), the series also helps highlight the scourge of rising levels of forced displacement, and the struggle to find solutions.
Yet many of the stories offer hope, showing how football can help refugees and asylum-seekers to find their feet again and rebuild their lives in a new society after the trauma and confusion of flight.
“UNHCR has been promoting sport as a positive catalyst for empowering refugees, helping to strengthen social cohesion and forge closer ties with host communities,” said Dominique Hyde, global head of External Relations at UNHCR. “For young men and women uprooted by war or persecution, sport is much more than a leisure activity. It’s an opportunity to be included and protected – a chance to heal, develop and grow.”
Founder of Goal Click Matthew Barrett said: “We could not be more proud to launch Goal Click Refugees with UNHCR. Whilst many stories appear in the media about refugees, it is rare to actually hear their voices or see their perspective. 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. Now, more than ever, the voices of the marginalised need to be heard.”
From today the photos can be viewed as an online exhibition on unhcr.org/goalclick and goal-click.com.
“Some people in the camp believe that football is only for boys, and girls shouldn’t do it. But when I play football it raises my spirits and it reinforces my self-confidence,” said Maram, 14, a girl from Zaatari camp in Jordan. “I can be the person that changes how the community perceives girls’ football and breaks the wall of shame. My wish is to strengthen my skills in football, so I can achieve my dream and become a famous footballer, and to travel.”
The series will include fundraising links for UNHCR’s global work as well as the Covid-19 Response Fund of Common Goal, a collective fund that supports football charities around the world.