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On the Ball


More than 1,600 artists entered the 2021 Youth with Refugees refugee JOEL CARILLET/ GETTY IMAGES someone who has been forced to leave his or her country because of violence or mistreatment (noun) Many refugees from Syria now live in camps far from home. Art Contest. The competition is run by UNHCR. That’s the United Nations’ refugee agency. UNHCR challenged young people to design a soccer ball. The theme: “Together through sport.” Five winners were announced this school year.

Nadira Ganji is 17. She’s one of the winners of the 2021 Youth with Refugees Art Contest.


Nadira Ganji, 17, was one of them. Her design features athletes playing a variety of sports. Nadira was inspired by watching sports on TV. “They were all players coming from different backgrounds background DIGITAL VISION/GETTY IMAGES the experiences in a person's past (noun) My class has students with different backgrounds. ,” she told TIME for Kids. “All with different abilities.”

Nadira is an artist. She’s also a refugee. She’s excited to share her talent with the world.


Nadira can relate relate D3SIGN—GETTY IMAGES to understand or have sympathy for someone or something (verb) I can relate to many characters in the book. . She is differently abled. She’s also a refugee. She fled Afghanistan when she was 12. Today, she and her family live in India.

James Cowley Lane, 10, is from Ireland. His winning design uses a symbol. He says it stands for hope. Its colors also have meaning. “White equals peace, red equals courage, and blue equals freedom,” he says.

James Cowley Lane, 10, lives in Ireland. For his winning ball, he created a spiral design to symbolize hope.


James loves soccer. “When I play,” he says, “I forget all my worries.” He had heard about refugees in the news. The art contest was a way to help.

When he’s not playing soccer, James enjoys doing artwork.


Winning Ways

A worker at Alive and Kicking, in Kenya, proudly displays Nadira’s winning ball.


The five winning designs were turned into real soccer balls. They were made in Kenya by a charity called Alive and Kicking. Then they were sold online. Money goes to sports programs for refugees.

Nadira’s design was made into a real soccer ball. It first had to be printed onto a hexagon.


“Sports is really something that helps young refugees,” says Pauline Eluère of UNHCR. The group’s 2022 Youth with Refugees Art Contest launches this spring.

Eye-Catching Art

Artists who entered the 2021 Youth with Refugees Art Contest were urged to use no more than three colors, plus white. Designs had to be drawn within two frames: a hexagon and a pentagon. “The designs that won just looked brilliant,” says Ben Sadler. He is CEO of Alive and Kicking. “They really catch the eye.” Which do you like best?