Contact us

Subscribe to the Beyond Sport Bulletin

The email is not valid.

Contact us

+44 (0)20 7240 7700 [email protected]

5th Floor, 110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JS 119 W. 24th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011

Sport Against Racism Ireland Promotes Inclusiveness & Diversity

Beyond Sport X Under Armour Participant Spotlight

August 4, 2023 

In celebration of our #SportForSocialChange retail donation campaign in partnership with Under Armour, we're highlighting the participating charities that are using sport to inspire and teach valuable life lessons to youth. Today, we’re thrilled to announce our first expansion into Europe with Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI). The charity is using sport to promote inclusion, human rights and a respect for cultural diversity throughout Ireland.  

Over the past two decades, Ireland has become an increasingly diverse community with people of many different ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions. According to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute, it is one of the most diverse countries in the European Union with 17% of its resident population born in another country. In 2022, approximately 120,700 immigrants entered the Republic of Ireland.

However, racism is prevalent in the country and fear of the far right has risen over the years. A report from the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) shows that there were 600 reports of racism in 2022, compared to 530 in 2019. The three main groups targeted are people of African heritage, South Asians, Chinese people and Muslim communities. 

Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI)

Some description

SARI was founded in Dublin in 1997 during the European Year Against Racism, a year which raised awareness of racial incidents occurring in Europe and promoted action to combat them. The organisation fosters inclusion, diversity and equality by leveraging sport and its potential for trust and relationship-building to challenge discrimination, promote cultural integration and drive social inclusion. 

In 2017 alone, over 8,000 immigrants became Irish citizens – many of whom were Polish, Romanian or Indian. Ethnic and racial minorities make up about 12 percent of the country, the Muslim population is steadily growing and over 9,500 refugees were documented in Ireland in 2021. People from the Brazil, Italy, Latvia, Luthiania, Spain and the UK are also represented in large numbers.

With a mission to develop and deliver practical engagement opportunities for Ireland’s new and established migrant and diverse ethnic communities, SARI connects with more than 6,000 young people across its programmes. It provides a pathway for personal development and participation in sport, while also generating a culture of inclusiveness and respect for diversity. 

The top challenges faced by the young people the organisation works with – primarily those from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds – are racism and discrimination, with the resulting negative impact on their daily lives, education and employment opportunities; a lack of representation in decision-making spaces, resulting in an absence of diverse voices in policy-making, wider society and sport; and access to local community services and pathways to build their social networks. 

Recognising how essential it is to have a proactive approach to promote social cohesion and inclusion, SARI works directly with schools, teachers, Direct Provision Centres (system of asylum seeker accommodation), refugees and local communities. It delivers anti-discrimination educational workshops and community development programmes offering sports activities for people from disadvantaged and/or marginalised backgrounds. It also runs a Young Leaders development and employability programme which supports the transition from second-level education into further education or employment to create opportunities for all. Many of its programmes are co-designed and co-delivered by youth. 

"Our programmes offer safe spaces to our young people to have their voices heard in decision-making processes to deliver activities that are tailored to the needs of the people we work with," explained Development Officer and Board member, Amina Moustafa. "This ensures our programmes are culturally sensitive and offer agency. Through the medium of sport, we address social issues such as racism, sectarianism, sexism, poverty, substance abuse, illiteracy, marginalisation, reduced job prospects, obesity, violence and abuse."

Some description

In the state education system, the non-profit uses sport, storytelling and intercultural connection to educate on respect for all cultures. Its experiential learning methodology encourages young people to consider concepts of equality, diversity and inclusion by addressing preconceived notions about "the other" and challenging stereotypes and misconceptions. The workshops are delivered to students and young people in primary schools and post-primary schools, sports clubs and community centres nationwide. 

In 2022, its Football versus Discrimination programme alone engaged 4,742 young people of 101 different nationalities in 52 locations across Ireland. Delivered by SARI coaches and Young Leaders, many of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds, students aged 10-13 were exposed to new perspectives and are taught how to identify discriminatory behaviour and attitudes. The children take the skills and learnings from the pitch, such as team work, fairplay and respect, and apply them to everyday life.

Its flagship Soccerfest event, created to bring together people from new migrant and native Irish communities, has grown into the largest 7-a-side inter-cultural tournament in Ireland. It attracts crowds of up to 3,000 people from over 60 different nationalities including teams from Direct Provision Centres and refugee communities. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the tournament.

Some description

Moustafa herself has experienced the positive impact of SARI. She began her journey with the non-profit when she was 17 joining its Hijabs & Hat-Tricks programme set up to encourage Muslim women to play football after FIFA lifted the hijab ban in 2014. “As a young person, I was always passionate about sport, but it wasn’t until I discovered SARI that I experienced and learnt how sport has the power to promote social inclusion, create a sense of belonging and challenge racism and discrimination. It was a light bulb moment for me, I got more and more involved in SARI and was fascinated by what was possible, that sport could be used as a non-formal learning tool.” 

Seven years on, she is now a Development Officer, sits on SARI's Board of Directors and is actively promoting the use of non-formal approaches to youth and women’s development. Moustafa is an active participant in civil society, advocating for the inclusion of minority ethnic voices in policy and design-making spaces at a national and global level. 

With funds raised from the Beyond Sport X Under Armour campaign and seed funding provided by the retailer, SARI will expand its programming at local, regional and national levels to support communities in becoming more inclusive spaces for all by embracing differences and celebrating diversity through sport. “There is a great deal of work still to be done. There's an urgent need to recognise the role sport can play in promoting inclusion in our local communities and funding is required to scale up this effort,” stated Moustafa. 

Learn more about the incredible organisations we're working to support in the UK and Europe HERE. If you live in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Liverpool, York or Edinburgh in the UK or Kildare in Ireland, please consider visiting your local Under Armour store to support #SportforSocialChange! 


UCI launches Sustainability Impact Tracker