Bonding over the love of soccer is no joke: a mixed method study exploring sense of community, resilience, and cultural adjustment for refugee youth participants

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Resettled refugees face numerous challenges including unsafe living conditions, loss of permanent shelter, adjustment to a new culture, loneliness, and separation from family, friends, and community. Of particular importance is

Resettled refugees face numerous challenges including unsafe living conditions, loss of permanent shelter, adjustment to a new culture, loneliness, and separation from family, friends, and community. Of particular importance is the lack of a feeling of sense of community (SOC) within their new surroundings. SOC is not only worthwhile as an outcome of its own, but may also predict additional positive outcomes such as resilience and cultural adjustment. Literature has shown participation in sport can develop youth positively and build social skills, while studies in other regions of the world have also found a sport team setting to be a place for immigrants to experience SOC. In this study, I use a congruent mixed methods approach to both explore the experience of SOC for youth refugees in a soccer club, and examine the relation of SOC to resilience and cultural adjustment. Using photo-elicitation and semi-structured interviews with 11 youth participants, the qualitative portion of the study explored SOC among youth participants. Findings note the presence of SOC as matched to theoretical frameworks both specific to sport, and to a more general theory of SOC. Further data were collected through questionnaires distributed to club members. Results from the quantitative analysis indicate a significant positive relation between SOC and resilience, and SOC and perceived acculturation. This study’s contribution is to illustrate how refugee youth in a sport club in the United States experience SOC, and the impact of that SOC. Results suggest practical implications for sport managers who wish to provide positive sport experiences for youth refugees.