Alwaleed Philanthropies and Barca Foundation sports-based program drives refugee wellbeing and social inclusion in Greece


Over 2,000 refugee children and youth are expected to be enrolled across the 12-month sport and social inclusion program

Alwaleed Philanthropies, chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, and the Barca Foundation the philanthropic arm of the football team Barcelona FC, have implemented a sports-based empowerment program to promote the emotional and physical wellbeing of refugee children in Greece.  

The program is being led by Barca Foundation’s implementation partner, Organization Earth, who utilize a specific methodology created by the Barça Foundation that uses sport to promote values such as teamwork, self-expression and healthy living among vulnerable children. The programs are designed to foster life-skills and social integration through physical activity. The program focuses on empowering youth through sport and fostering life-skills and cross-cultural understanding in refugee camps.

Six refugee camps in Greece

The 12-month program is taking place across 6 refugee camps, in Eleonas, Schisto, Ritsona, Malakasa, Volos, and Korinthos. Launched in mid-2022, the program has already seen great uptake enrolling over 470 refugee children in twice-weekly sports-based education and trained over 45 refugee and Greek coaches to deliver the program, in a 5-month span. In total, The program is expected to train over 100 coaches and volunteers with both classroom-based and practical sessions. This will benefit over 2,000 children with sports equipment, twice-weekly activity sessions, special parents´ workshops, and excursions outside the refugee camps. 

April 6 marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The United Nations recognizes sport as an effective means of promoting health, development, social inclusion, and equality. Sport also has the potential to break down barriers that divide people and communities and can be used to help prevent conflict and build peace. These ideas are reiterated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which highlights the essential role of sport in social progress. 

Statements from HRH Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies

“We are delighted to collaborate with the Barça Foundation on this meaningful project. This program is providing avenues for these children to stay active whilst building community and dialogue. Sport is vital to promoting physical and emotional wellbeing. The coaches and volunteers are providing the necessary tools to promote this vision, creating a vibrant, inclusive environment where children can flourish.” 

Statements from Marta Segú Estruch, directora general de la Fundació FC Barcelona

“Sport makes it possible to achieve changes in the lives of children in challenging contexts, as a tool that has proven to have a great impact and effectiveness.” 

“In the case in refugee camps in Greece, where we focus our efforts on children and youth from diverse backgrounds living as refugees in challenging circumstances, we strive for all participants to overcome their difficult journeys and become children again.”