THSN Refugee Team: Integration through sport

Sport can change lives. Tadesse Abraham, Switzerland’s fastest marathon runner, is a testament to that. His story shows how running can help with integration. In 2020, we set up the “THSN Refugee Team”, a running group for people from a refugee background. Working with Tadesse as a coach, we help refugees achieve their goals. Find out exactly how it works and who the team is aimed at here. 

Together with “The Human Safety Net Switzerland”, Generali Switzerland is supporting projects that help people with a refugee or migrant background. The idea of “people helping people” is at the centre of the Generali Group’s global joint initiative The Human Safety Net (THSN). Across the world, 21 countries with 24 programmes are taking part in the initiative. All share a common objective: to offer disadvantaged people opportunities for a better life.


The project

“The Human Safety Net Switzerland”, a charitable organisation, set up the THSN Refugee Team together with marathon runner Tadesse Abraham. The team consists of two running groups. One group meets in Geneva to train and is supported by the local organisation Hospice général. The second group trains with the non-profit association SPORTEGRATION. Anyone from a refugee background who wants to take part is welcome. This running team is primarily aimed at encouraging integration through sport. We also offer a range of activities to support those seeking a career as a professional runner.


Who can join the THSN Refugee Team?

The THSN Refugee Team is open to all refugees. If you’d like to become a professional runner, you’ll find experienced coaches and support for all levels here. We offer all kinds of running workshops and training sessions. The three best runners in each team win the “Refugee Running Trophy” and complete a training camp in Grisons.


However, the THSN Refugee Team isn’t only open to those looking to become professionals. We want to offer the communication and integration that comes with sport to everyone.


All you need to bring is motivation.

Our training sessions

Training sessions last about an hour. Participants are split into two groups.


In Geneva

Training sessions take place at the Bout-du-Monde sports centre in Geneva (on the left by the stand, in front of the fitness park) on Wednesdays at 6.15 pm and Fridays at 6.45 pm.


Sign up for a taster session in Geneva here.


In Zurich

Training sessions take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.00 pm.


Tuesday meeting place:            400 m track at the University Sport Center in Fluntern (next to the Zoo tram station)

Thursday meeting place:           Generali agency at Mühlbachstrasse 7 in Zurich


Sign up for a taster session in Zurich here.


Our coaches


Our coaches offer advice and support to help runners achieve their goals. They also put together a tailored running programme and track performance during and outside the training sessions. 

Tadesse Abraham holds the Swiss record for marathon running – 2:06:40. He became the European half marathon champion in Amsterdam and took seventh place at the Olympic Games in Rio. He describes himself as the THSN Refugee Team’s “big brother”.


Born in rural Eritrea, he arrived in Switzerland as a refugee in 2004. His is a true success story; he’s learned first-hand just how much sport can help with integration. Giving something back means a lot to him. That’s why Mr Abraham joined this initiative himself as a coach. He’ll be on hand whenever he can to pass on his experience in professional sport and share his tips on training with those taking part.


In Geneva

Tadesse Abraham’s personal trainer and 800-metre vice-world champion at the World Masters in 2015, Olivier Baldacchino, leads all Geneva training sessions. Mr Baldacchino has worked as a sports coach for over 20 years.


In Zurich

Marco Rancan trains the team in Zurich. He’s been a running coach at LC Uster for over 15 years – the very club that helped Mr Abraham on his road to success. Mr Rancan also coaches junior runners who represent their country in a variety of running categories and sports at the highest level in Switzerland and Europe.



The benefits

Members of the THSN Refugee Team enjoy many benefits. We offer amateurs and professionals alike


Prospective professional runners

  • Your very own training plan 
  • The opportunity to attend a training camp in Grisons
  • Workshops with experts tailored to participants’ requirements

Prospective running coaches

In summer 2021, a group of athletes joined Tadesse Abraham at the training camp in St. Moritz.

Our team members

Get to know some of our team members.

Our partners

We’d like to thank all our partners for helping contribute to the THSN Refugee Team’s success.

Main partners

Hospice général


The Hospice général is a public institution in Geneva that was established in 1535 with the aim of supporting the most vulnerable. It provides social welfare and migrant support services in the State of Geneva. As part of its mission, it shelters and houses asylum seekers and refugees in 15 locations, offering services ranging from social and administrative support and financial assistance to education and training courses as well as social and professional integration activities to help them settle in Geneva.

Equipment partners



Born in the Swiss Alps, On set out in 2010 with a big ambition: to revolutionise the sensation of running. It’s all based on one radical idea – soft landings followed by explosive take-offs – otherwise known as “running on clouds”. On’s radically different running technology, CloudTec®, is now patented worldwide. Today, On is the fastest-growing performance footwear brand on the planet, having been embraced into the hearts, and on the feet, of millions of runners in over 50 countries. And there’s no sign of slowing down.



Garmin impresses runners, cyclists, golfers and sporting enthusiasts across the world with its innovative products. With the motto #BeatYesterday, about 16,000 employees work towards supporting people of all fitness levels and age groups to lead healthy lives, be more active, feel better and discover new things. Tens of millions of users are motivated and inspired by Garmin products every day. They use Garmin Connect, their free platform, to set goals, analyse training progress and share their activities with other users or via social media.

CEP Run Compression Socks


CEP, the intelligent sportswear for athletes, offers every athlete the right product for a wide range of sporting activities. CEP’s products increase performance and boost recovery through the targeted use of compression to improve blood circulation, accelerate lactate metabolism and achieve a perfect balance between health and performance. CEP’s high-quality products are made in Germany with unrivalled expertise.

Would you like to support our project? Then get in touch.