14 July 2022


UNHCR visited AEK Athens with #dreamballs. And they have donated the collectible winning balls to the children of the ”Welcome Through Football” programme.


In April of 2021, UNHCR and Alive and Kicking held a special art contest for youth, to shed light on the power of sport to bring people together and create a sense of hope.

1,600 young artists from 100 countries designed their own “dream balls” to illustrate the power of sport to bring us all together. We received designs from children and youth all over the world, including refugees. The five winners of the #dreamball competition part, who saw their balls come to life and travel promoting sports programmes for refugees, were Nadira, a 16-year-old Afghan refugee, James, a 10-year-old Irish footballer; Hala, a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee; Gerald, a 23-year-old refugee footballer from Cameroon; and Skarly, a 12-year-old Venezuelan girl. (UNCHR, Sportanddev.org)

“I arrived in Italy five years ago. After a few months, I became a volunteer and I started helping the less privileged in my community. I was later employed as a cultural mediator to work with the doctor in our reception centre. I’m currently the advisor for Unified with Refugees programming for the Special Olympics. In my drawing, I simply tried to show that sport is for everyone, just like the time on a clock, and does not look at our skin colour or physical condition. Sports bring hope and joy to those who practice it.”

Geral, 23, Cameroonian refugee living in Italy

(UNCHR, Sportanddev.org)

The children participating in the program played with their new balls in AEK Athens’ Training Center and they scored many goals!


Welcome Through Football is an EFDN initiative. Current projects across Europe receive funding from the Eramus+ programme of the European Union and the UEFA Foundation for Children.

The Welcome Through Football 2021 project aims to assist in the integration and inclusion of recently arrived young refugees, asylum seekers and young people with a migrant background. EFDN and partners will develop and test a European methodology that uses football as a tool to reach refugees and migrants from different ages (7-25 years old) to get them physically and social active in European communities.

Moreover, the project assists football coaches and youth workers in the development and sharing of effective methods in reaching out to the marginalised target group, in preventing racism and intolerance.