Game Connect: in Uganda sport for better mental health and a common identity

One national event, 5 refugee hosting districts, 10 competing teams and dozens of gifts and awards to celebrate inclusion, talent and unity with hundreds of refugee and host community youth.

Countries Uganda
Date 19.01.2023

On January 25th 2023 the Game Connect project will bring together more than 400 refugee and host community youth from across Uganda, consortium partners, funders, Uganda Government officials and AVSI Foundation, for the annual sports gala event to be hosted in Palabek Refugee Settlement, Lamwo District of Northern Uganda. The annual sports gala is a way to promote unity among refugee and host community youth, both female, male with emphasis on inclusion of persons with special needs.

AVSI together with consortium partners in the Game Connect project: UNHCR, Uganda Olympic Committee, Right To Play and Youth Sport Uganda with funding from the Olympic Refuge Foundation is implementing a structured Sports for Protection project that targets 11,668 vulnerable refugee and host community youth in the districts of Kampala (Nakawa and Makindye Divisions), Adjumani (Adjumani Refugee Settlement), Kamwenge (Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement), Kyangwali (Kyangwali Refugee Settlement) and Lamwo (Palabek Refugee Settlement) between August 2020 – July 2023.

Game Connect improves the psychosocial wellbeing and mental health for refugees and host community youth 15-24 years. The project focuses on: improving skills and capacities of refugee and host community youth to support their psychosocial wellbeing and mental health through improved access to safe sport; developing a new/strengthened social and support network through safe sport, including those from diverse backgrounds among refugee and host community youth; working with and ensuring District Level officials appreciate and advocate for Sport for Protection activities.

A social media campaign running on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp is enabling the raising of awareness on how sport for protection bolsters unity and improved mental health. The campaign will also draw attention to the annual event and provide real-time updates as the youth enjoy their day with sport.

There will be soccer and netball league competitions between the teams, with each team having 10 players, three females and at least one person with special needs, and for netball, each playing team will include two males. The winning teams will be awarded with prizes together with the 1st and 2nd runners up. Each participant will receive a certificate of participation and other outstanding accolades such as top scorer, best goalkeeper, best defender in netball, youngest player, and each participant with special needs will be awarded with a gift hamper.

The Game Connect project was designed to improve the life of youth. Sport is a powerful tool we are using to achieve better mental health but also promote unity among youth of different ethnicities and backgrounds,

Lydia Murungi, AVSI Program Manager