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A Good Goal

LET'S PLAY! Kids play soccer at Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya, in 2019. HANNAH MAULE-FFINCH—UNHCR

More than 1,600 artists from 100 countries entered the 2021 Youth with Refugees Art Contest. The competition is run by the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR). It challenged young people to design a soccer ball based on a theme: “Together through sport.” Five winners were announced this school year.

Nadira Ganji, 17, was one of the winners. Her design features athletes playing a variety of games. Nadira was inspired by watching sports on TV. “They were all players coming from different backgrounds,” she told TIME for Kids. “All with different abilities."

SHE'S GOT TALENT Contest winner Nadira Ganji, 17, is a refugee from Afghanistan and an artist.


Nadira can relate. She’s differently abled. She’s also a refugee. At 12, she was forced to flee Afghanistan. Today, she lives with her family in India.

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

“When I play soccer,” James says, “I forget all my worries.” He had heard about refugees in the news. He saw the art contest as a way to help those in need.

IN IT TO WIN IT James Cowley Lane, 10, from Ireland, is a winner of the 2021 Youth with Refugees Art Contest.


On the Ball

The five winning entries in the Youth with Refugees Art Contest were turned into real soccer balls. This was done by a charity called Alive and Kicking. “The designs that won look just brilliant,” Ben Sadler says. He’s the group’s CEO. Money from sales supports sports programs for refugees.

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

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