Entrance into Swedish Children’s Sports: Newly-migrated children’s perspective

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Krister Hertting
Center of Research on Welfare, Health and Sport, Halmstad University
Inger Karlefors
Department of Education, Umeå University, and Luleå University of Technology


Sweden has become a multicultural society over the course of the last few decades. Around two million of Sweden’s nine million inhabitants have an immigrant background. Sport is a global phenomenon and is, as such, regarded as a tool for integration; however, at the same time sport is closely linked to national identity.

The aim of this study is to enhance understanding of the sports-related experiences and desires of newly-migrated children, and how these can be met in Swedish sports clubs. We have interviewed six children, 10 to 13 years of age, from various countries with different experiences of organised sport. They were all newly-arrived and attended a transition school in a Swedish municipality.

In the phenomenological analysis we discovered four key factors which appeared to be of importance for participation: possessing cultural understanding, possessing social networks, knowing the language and possessing necessary skills.

In the discussion we stress that through awareness, sensitivity and flexibility, sports clubs can approach children from various cultures that have different sport’s needs. In the process of involving newly-migrated children in sports, it might be helpful to take the key factors presented into consideration, and reflect on how they could affect participation.


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KRISTER HERTTING is Associate Professor in Education at Halmstad University, Center of research on Welfare, Health and Sport. His main research focus is on pedagogical aspects of youth sports, coaching and cultural identities within the field of sport and exercise pedagogy (SEP), as well as learning and psychosocial wellbeing among schoolchildren.

INGER KARLEFORS is retired senior lecturer at the Dpt. of Education, Umeå University and Luleå University of Technology. Her main research interest is the school subject Physical Education and Health, and different aspects of youth sports as arenas of cultural inclusion.

Read more on idrottsforum.org

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