Sports teach young people in detention about communication, collaboration and fair play


Teamwork activities  helped them to communicate more with each other, to control their anger at certain moments during the game, to get excited about their or their colleagues’ achievements, to congratulate their opponents even if  they won or lost,” Nicusor Marinescu, sports  monitor in Craiova Detention Centre told us.

Since August 2023, Terre des hommes monitors have developing sports, recreation activities and psycho-social games with young people from four educational and detention centres in Romania within PRECISION 2 project implemented by our Foundation.  

We are working with 50 youth in Buzias Educational Centre and with two groups of 10 minors and 10 young adults in Craiova Detention Centre. In Târgu Ocna Educational Centre we have reached the tenth series of young people, with 10 participants in each series.

The main goal of these activities is the development of psycho-social and physical abilities.  Children are encouraged to express their emotions, control negative reactions, develop empathy and group interactions, so that they can integrate easier in society after release from the centres.

At first, the teenagers felt a bit awkward and curious, but in time they began to communicate, to build strategies together in order to complete their tasks.” (Elena Stoean, sports monitor, Tg. Ocna) The young people like games that involve high dynamics, force, competition, spontaneity, the monitors told us. They prefer football, table tennis, gym. At the end of each session, the trainer evaluates their attention and concentration during the game, cooperation and mutual respect, the fair play attitude. Also, the youth participate in games where they are asked to coordinate, socialise, memorise, build strategies, develop their imagination, their skills, to communicate and cooperate with their teammates.

The sports monitors noticed improvements during the sessions. The teenagers are more open to experience something new, they have more trust in their colleagues, they are more communicative and more disciplined. ”The children realised that communication, teammate supporting and fair play are very important elements for winning a game, a competition.”  (Codrin Roșu, Buziaș) ”They have become more communicative with me and with the group, they ask me about game rules, about their achievements, if I liked the goal they scored, the dribbling they did.” (Nicușor Marinescu, Craiova)

Their confidence level increased as to making decisions in sports games, they work as a united group in order to succeed and be winners at the end of the activities. In Tg. Ocna, out of a group of 10 teenagers, 8 or 9  give positive feedback after each session and say they want to take part again in such activities, Elena Stoean told us.

Many young people said that, following release from the centre, they are eager to meet their families or build families. Some of them want to finish school studies and find a job here or abroad, in fields like car driving, farming, construction works, mechanics, hotels and restaurants. Most of them showed the intention to change their entourage and not to make mistakes that would bring them back to detention.  

The sessions took place in the period August-December 2023 and have been resumed this year within PRECISION 2 project - promoting wellbeing and reducing recidivism of juvenile offenders in Romania, implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation in Romania.


The sport game sessions are based on ”Movement, game and sports” (MGS) methodology created by  Terre des hommes Foundation. It uses games and sports for experiential learning by providing psycho-social support. The methodology was adapted to the needs and particularities of children in detention. This methodology helps us to achieve psycho-social objectives through  sports and team games, by developing personal and social skills of children and youth in vulnerable situations. Through movement, games and sports, young people become more resilient; on a long term, it facilitates decrease or giving up the delinquent behaviour. The adapted MGS methodology has been used in training programmes that we provided to educational and detention centre staff in Romania.