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Sport for Refugees Programme Workshop: One Team Africa. Nairobi, Kenya  3 - 6 March 2020  

Workshop mission and purpose: To develop a programme for refugee athletes who will participate in African Games to be hosted in Ghana in 2023. Rallying behind visionary leaders such as IOC Ambassador and former marathon and Olympics world champion Tegla Loroupe to scale up good practice for the benefit of the rest of Africa and the world. 

Written by Dr. Oscar Mwaanga – Programme Director for the PGC International Sports Management   |

The aim of the Sport for Refugees programme workshop is to develop a programme for refugee athletes who will be participating in African Games to be hosted in Ghana in 2023.  Although the project acknowledges the plight of African refugees, it focuses the narrative on African solutions and a vision of the peaceful and sporting Africa we desire. It’s about rallying behind our visionary leaders such as IOC Ambassador and former marathon and Olympics world champion Tegla Loroupe when they want to scale up good practice for the benefit of the rest of Africa and the world. 

Presenters and event organiser
From left to right: Miriam Chemtai, Eunice Hasango (CEO of TLPF), Ambassador Tegla Loroupe, Evelyn Bata, Viola Loroupe and back row is Oscar Mwaanga.

Day one. Registration, introduction of organisations and concept note. The workshop started on time to my surprise! but Tegla soon reminded me that at her foundation excellence prevails and ‘African time’ does not apply. We learnt about the work of Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation (TLPF), African Union and the Qatar 2022 legacy programme for Africa. The image above was taken after the smashing presentation by TLPF foundation team.

On day two, participants decided to use their tea breaks to continue working to unpack and design aspects of the desired sport  programme. But work had to stop over lunch to fully appreciate the delicious Nyama choma (roasted meat), fish (Samaki) and different kinds of rice and much more. Will people be able to stay awake in the afternoon? Amazingly, they do! A surprise visit by leaders of the Kenyan Academy of Sport Dr. Doreen Odhiambo and keenness to deliver on target re-energise participants against the crippling effects of a heavy lunch.

Sport refugee participants standing in a V formation
Sports refugee participants in a V formation, headed by refugee and athlete Gasto Nsazumukiza from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Final day is a site visit and a welcome to reality: Plan was to set off early but I soon learnt that 7 am is not early enough to beat the Nairobi traffic. We arrived at Tegla Loroupe training camp on the outskirts of Nairobi one hour behind schedule.  So, straight to action – meeting the refugee athletes, listening to their phenomenal and inspiring stories of escaping war and now winning medals towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Particularly touched by a story of Gasto Nsazumukiza who arrived at Kakuma refugee camp after surviving inhuman experiences in the Congo jungle. The medals he has won in taekwondo towards his journey to Tokyo Olympic 2020 are partly because of the resilience he acquired from his journey of escaping. In the image below Gasto stands at the top of the V formation of the African Migratory birds with his support team (now brothers and sister from Kenya) and visionary coach George Wesonga Oyoo.

Way forward: After three amazing days of hard work and fun, the road map is clear. 

  1. MOUs to be drawn between various partners including the AU, TLPF; Kenyatta University and UoL.
  2. Finalising the workshop document with recommendations for the African Union and all partners involved.    
  3. We are leveraging this opportunity to build an international community for UoL (Worldwide) international sports management programme. AU, TLPF and Kenyatta University have agreed to explore partnership. 

Some interesting questions: 

  • Can we develop a UoL MOOC aimed at empowering Refugees athletes with sport leadership skills?
  • Can we explore a UoL programmes partnership between the MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, the Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in International Sports Management and the Centre for Distance Education (CDE)?

Acknowledgements: The Nairobi workshop was designed and led by Oscar Mwaanga, superbly supported by the African Union and hosted by Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation (TLPF) through the remarkable leadership of Machacha Shepande (Head of Sport at AU) and IOC Ambassador Tegla Loroupe (Head of TLPF).  

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