Ulster University Belfast Campus
15th March: 6.00pm – 7.30pm (doors 5.30pm)
Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society and historically sport has played a key role in both reflecting and reinforcing those divisions.
While the nature of the relationship between sport and ethno-religious differences has generated considerable academic and public interest, there has been relatively little attention placed on the implications of this for the growing migrant community in Northern Ireland. There has been increasing interest in using sport as a mechanism to support the integration of migrants and asylum seekers and social inclusion is one of the EU’s key priorities for the role of sport in society. This is reflected in the range of initiatives and programmes in various European countries, whether organised by support organisations for migrants and asylum seekers, local community organisations, or representative bodies for particular sports.
The potential benefits of these initiatives are well-documented and sport is often presented as a ‘universal language’ which can overcome social, cultural and national differences. However, the reality on the ground is often rather different and a variety of obstacles, including xenophobic and racist attitudes, remain. In the Northern Ireland context, various groups and sporting organisations have developed initiatives to increase participation among migrants and promote social inclusion, with varying degrees of success, and the issues raised by these will be the focus of this session.
A panel comprised of academics and representatives of migrant groups and sporting organisations will examine some of these initiatives and consider the extent to which sport might help to facilitate cohesion and integration among the migrant and refugee community in Northern Ireland.