Sports as arena for social inclusion of immigrants and ethnic minorities

Heidi Sundvoll1 & Anne Tjønndal2
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
University of Nordland (UiN), Bodø


Sport plays a vital part in Norwegian society, and it involves a large part of the population. The Norwegian Confederation of Sports (NIF) consists of c. 2.1 million registered members (NIF, 2013), and the immigrant population has doubled over the past ten years (SSB, 2015). On this basis this article explores how, and in what ways sport can contribute to social inclusion of immigrants and ethnic minorities in Norwegian society.

The paper is based on a qualitative single-case study, where interviews and observations in a local sports club were conducted. The results demonstrate how the sports club actively works to include people with ethnic minority backgrounds in their daily practices. At a management level, the club has political equality ideologies, which appears to be carried out at all levels of the organization. Furthermore, the results indicate that the sports club is dealing with several challenges in regards to social inclusion. Among other things, the data demonstrates that a key challenge is to get girls from ethnic minorities to continue with their chosen sport during adolescence. Other important challenges highlighted in the data are communication, economy and culture.


Get the full-text article in Norwegian!


HEIDI SUNDVOLL recently graduated with a bachelor degree in sport science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. Heidi is currently studying religion at NTNU.

ANNE TJØNNDAL is a PhD Research Fellow at the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Nordland (UiN), Bodø, Norway. The subject of her PhD thesis is innovation and social inclusion in sport. In 2014 Anne graduated from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) with a master’s degree (MSc.) in Sport Science.

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