Background: Over the past five decades, the number of people from refugee backgrounds in developed countries has been on the constant rise. Although the field of refugee and forced migration studies in relation to education and sport has grown considerably in recent years, very little is known about refugee-background students’ perceptions of Physical Education (PE). Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate refugee-background students’ perceptions of PE in Swedish high schools, using a salutogenic approach. Participants and settings: This qualitative study was conducted in two Swedish high schools and involved eleven students from refugee backgrounds aged 16–18 years (seven boys and four girls) who originated from a variety of countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia and Albania. Data collection/analysis: A total of 11 semi-structured interviews were conducted, and the interviews were systematically coded and analyzed using the sense of coherence (SOC) components as analytical tools. Findings: Three themes were identified that captured the students’ perceptions and experiences: (1) PE was perceived as more meaningful in Sweden than in their country of origin due to short-term benefits (e.g. social interaction with friends, and improving personal health and wellbeing) and long-term benefits (e.g. learning for the future); (2) understanding the rules and purpose of the activities helped students to better comprehend the experiences acquired in PE and communicate with others; and (3) constructive social relationships with teachers and classmates were an essential resource in order to make PE manageable. Implications: We suggest that strengths-based approaches should be recognized and incorporated into PE in order to facilitate health promoting factors and wellbeing among students from refugee backgrounds.

DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2021.1911980
ISSN: 1740-8989