“Iranians on one side, immigrants on the other!”: socio-cultural constraints to sport participation amongst Afghan women migrants and refugees

Catherine Phipps, Ali Afrouzeh, Mohammad Pourkiani, Shakiba Moghadam, Nasrollah Sajjadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we consider the sport experiences (as a form of active leisure) of Afghan women migrants and refugees who reside in Iran. In line with previous leisure constraint models, we theorised that constraints may impact current ‘leisure participants’; therefore, in this study, nine second-generation women were interviewed who were active in sport at the time of the data collection. The interviews aimed to explore the extent to which socio-cultural constraints to sport participation exist, with a particular focus on gender norms and how these may be constrictive to full access and enjoyment of sport spaces. A reflexive thematic analysis was used to create themes from the data set and three findings are presented here. Firstly, gender-based constraints largely deriving from family and culture are explored. Next, resource-based constraints of time and finances are outlined from a gendered perspective. Finally, racist and discriminatory behaviours from others demonstrate the intersectionality of gender and ‘race’, impacting women migrants’ and refugees’ sporting experiences. While sport has the potential to facilitate greater feelings of belonging amongst migrants and refugees, we argue that more needs to be done to consider the complex constraints impacting women, to ensure greater inclusion in sport spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalLeisure Studies
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Cite this