This is KLABU

Set up by the Klabu Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Jan van Hövell together with a group of dedicated young people in Amsterdam and Kenya. New sports initiative KLABU provides some mental stability and physical exercise to people living in limbo.

There are more young refugees today than ever before. With so many young people living in such tough and moral-breaking situations, more needs to be done to help them. So KLABU has been set up to provide that help.

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“More than half of all refugees are younger than 18 years old, many spend their entire youth living in tough conditions in refugee camps.”

Sport can be a powerful tool when it comes to rebuilding a life or making new connections. It teaches teamwork, co-operation and hard work. It is also one of the few things that people from all walks of life can use to strike a bond between them. Sport is a unifier, a common language, a shared passion.

We speak many different languages in the camp, but the language of sports is one we all share.
— - Nancy (20) from South Sudan
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When refugees flee their home, they leave everything behind: family, friends, belongings. Waiting to return home in safety or be resettled can take years and in the meantime, they wait. Education and employment are hard to find, frustration takes hold and their entire energy and potential of young people is wasted. Sports won’t solve these problems - but what it will do is provide an outlet for frustration and a good base to build up confidence and life skills.

In refugee camps and settlements, NGO’s often provide food, housing, medical care and educational support. But there are no structural solutions for young people to play sports. What’s most needed is equipment, sportswear and playing fields. KLABU appoints fields, builds sturdy club houses and we stock them with all the gear and clothing to play the most popular local sports and games.

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We spoke to Charlotte over at the Klabi Foundation:

So you’ve been with KLABU from the beginning? Tell us a bit about how it came about and why it’s important.

My good friend Jan van Hövell quit his job as a lawyer 2,5 years ago to focus full-time on developing a concept to power sports in refugee settings. He asked me to provide strategic and marketing advice as I was working on nature restoration initiatives in refugee camps in Cameroon and Malawi. I quit my job last year to dedicate more time to KLABU and we travelled to Kalobeyei in January to launch the first sports club and produce the campaign with two young and very talented creatives; Coco Olakunle (Dutch-Nigerian photographer and former Kennedy) and Richard Hui (filmmaker and current Kennedy).

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Who designed the home and away kit? Talk us through the print on the kit.

The shirts were designed by the wonderful designer Kelvin Govey. In fact, on his website, he created a beautiful page explaining all the symbolism of the designs -

Are you launching a women’s range anytime soon?

We are! The Women’s Collection is currently in development and will launch in the fall. We have leggings, tank tops, sports bra’s and hoodies coming up. This will compliment are focus on getting more women onto the playing field in Kalobeyei and in our future KLABU sports clubs around the world.

How important are team sports and exercise in these rough conditions?

Playing sports makes you happy. It keeps you healthy, focused and releases tension. No matter what language you speak or where you are from, we all understand the benefits of sports in our busy lives. 

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But why are sports especially important for refugees? 

“When refugees flee their home, they leave everything behind: family, friends, belongings. Admitted to another country as a refugee, they find safety but not much more. To return home in safety or receive permission to settle in a new country can take years and in the meantime, refugees wait. Opportunities for education and work are limited, frustration sets in and the talent and potential of young people is wasted.” 

What does the future hold for Klabu?

This year, KLABU wants to power sports for even more young Kalobeyeians by getting more girls onto the playing field. Organising sports events, supporting women ambassadors in the settlement, providing suitable sports clothing and providing materials for popular women’s sports.

In parallel and as we start to generate funding through our sportswear sales and donations, the KLABU concept will be replicated in refugee camps and urban areas in

So how can you become an official KLABU supporter?

You can buy the home or away strip here