14. September 2018

Football, education and equality.

The Kavli Trust supports PlayOnside for another two years, helping to ensure that more children and youth in the border areas between Thailand and Myanmar are able to attend school, and that they get to play football. PlayOnside also uses football as a way to promote the rights of girls.

PlayOnside is working with an increasing number of children and youth in Mae Sot and surrounding areas in the north of Thailand, only kilometres from the border to Myanmar.

“Over the summer, we have expanded the project to include seven new schools,” says Ole Michelsen, programme coordinator in the organisation.

The expansion means that every weekend, at the PlayOnside football tournament, several hundred additional children can benefit from football training sessions full of fun and learning, while meeting students from other schools.

PlayOnside is a Norwegian and Spanish organisation that gives children and young refugees from Myanmar the opportunity to play and to develop through a variety of football-related activities. The work is focused around three main areas: equality, integration and education.

Football can be a great arena for development and equality! PlayOnside uses football as a tool to promote girls’ rights among migrants and refugees on the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

The renewed support from the Kavli Trust will be used to further expand and improve upon the programme.

“All of us at PlayOnside are incredibly proud and grateful to have the Kavli Trust as our partner. The Trust’s contribution to PlayOnside enables us to reach even more marginalised children and youth living in difficult conditions on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The Kavli Trust has shown great interest in our work, and we look forward to developing a long-term partnership,” says Ole Michelsen.

Good, stable communities are built through focusing on girls’ rights. Though football, PlayOnside are leading the way by challenging local attitudes and proving that girls both want to and are able to play football! It just has to be facilitated.

He points out that without close, long-term partners, it is difficult to create lasting change.

“This is why it is such great news that the Kavli Trust wants to support PlayOnside not only in 2018 but also in 2019. This enables us to plan ahead and allows us to provide children and youth, living unstable lives as refugees and migrants in Thailand, with positive experiences with PlayOnside, both on and off the pitch,” says Ole Michelsen.

Ole Michelsen, programme manager in PlayOnside.

Friendships are important to everyone. PlayOnside uses football to integrate Burmese refugee and migrant youth in Thailand. The Kavli Trust is very pleased to be able to support their work.

Young leadership is important to development. Through courses, PlayOnside has trained tens of local youths to be coaches. The courses have focused on values such as fair play, tolerance, respect, and that everyone should be allowed to participate.

“The Kavli Trust is pleased to be able to support the important development work that PlayOnside is doing on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Their work is very focused, and we think it is great that football is used as a tool to achieve equality, inclusion and development. In this project, the goal is not to train the next Lionel Messi, but to foster the positive, soft values of team sports, such as team work and cooperation, fair play and tolerance,” says the general manager of the Kavli Trust, Inger Elise Iversen.

The Kavli Trust has supported PlayOnside since 2017. This new allocation totals at NOK 200,000 for 2018 and 2019.

Access to games and sports is a fundamental right for all children. PlayOnside facilitates just that for Burmese refugees and migrants in Thailand.

Read more: Playing as a team


• As a result of long-term, internal conflicts in Myanmar, many people have fled and emigrated to neighbouring country Thailand.

• Many of these people are currently living in the north of Thailand, near the border to Myanmar.

• Neither refugees nor migrants have many formal rights, and in Thailand, they have little or no access to basic services such as health care and schooling.

• Many therefore depend on support from aid organisations.

• PlayOnside uses football to build bridges between the refugees and immigrants from Myanmar and their host communities.

Myanmar or Burma? The Kavli Trust follows the Norwegian standard and uses Myanmar. PlayOnside uses Burma. Both names are approved by the UN.

This is Laura, PlayOnside’s first female football coach. Laura is 20 years old and has grown up in the refugee camp Mae La in Thailand. She never got to play football when she was younger, but now she is a football coach and a great role model for the next generation of girls growing up on the border between Thailand and Myanmar.