Coaching Young People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Backgrounds


Young people from CLD backgrounds participate in sport for the same reasons that all children do. Sport can provide physical, social and emotional benefits that help in the growth and development of a young person.

Involvement in sport and recreational activities can also improve the resettlement experience for young people and their families.


It is important to have an understanding of what we mean when we use terms such as migrant, refugee and asylum seeker.

A migrant is someone who chooses to leave their country of origin for a range of personal or economic reasons.

A refugee is someone who has suffered or has a well-founded fear of suffering persecution for reasons of race, religion, and membership of a particular social group or political opinion and as a result of this has fled their country.

An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking asylum or protection in a country that is not his or her country of origin or nationality. Asylum seekers may be refugees, but until the government approves their application they will not be recognised as refugees.

Barriers facing young people:

Young people today face many challenges and responsibilities. Issues such as:

  • Lack of time due to school commitments
  • Family commitments
  • Peer pressure
  • Concerns about their body image
  • Financial difficulties

Such barriers can hinder participation in sport for many of these young people.

Migrant and refugee young people face additional barriers that can make participation even more difficult.

These can include:

  • Unfamiliarity with the structure of sporting clubs and associations
  • Language barriers
  • Lack of priority given to sport by parents
  • Lack of transport
  • Fear of racism or discrimination
  • Affordability

Young refugees have often experienced a traumatic and difficult circumstance before arriving in South Africa. As with any group, patience and understanding are essential so that they can have a positive experience.


Familiarise the young people with terms, equipment and rules by demonstrating or practising before the session. Try and keep the language as simple as possible and be prepared to explain or clarify.

Before the session identify the group leaders or youth workers if applicable, and introduce yourself. From here you can find out the level of English in the group and can then identify the need for the use of visual aids and demonstrations.

Try not to modify the rules too much as these children prefer to participate to the same level as others in the group.

In some cultures, women/girls are required to dress conservatively. Try and remember to schedule in extra drink breaks to combat heat and dehydration from heavy clothing and attire.


  • Make it visual
  • Be patient
  • Use simple language
  • Be flexible
  • Make it fun
  • Enjoy yourself
  • Ask them questions
  • Understand their needs