“Now, we are part of the world”
Welcome to the 2nd post in Can Soccer Save the World’s Holiday Charitable Gift Giving series.
Yesterday, I featured Gonzo Soccer and am excited to share with you today’s feature on the Darfur United Soccer Academy.
The Darfur United Soccer Academy offers a safe place for children and youth to gather and participate in a healthy and enriching activity, trauma relief, and promote peace-building. The Academy will not only provide the joy of play, but will also serve as a vehicle for peace and a way to connect the refugee participants with children and youth soccer players clubs across the U.S. and Europe.
The Academy will provide a low-cost tool for many other needs and development goals in the camps – such as health, education and empowerment of girls and women. Sports programs have shown to expand health education, increase school attendance, and challenge gender norms. The Academy will do the same. The Academy will hire and train coaches and volunteers. Participants will receive basic health and hygiene education. Each participant will be required to attend school, and girl players and women coaches will be provided an equal opportunity to participate and be leaders.
Need some inspiration? Read this from Sara-Christine Dallain, Project Coordinator, about Darfur United Soccer Academy Coach, Ramadan:
On the day that he was to receive his Darfur United Soccer Academy training Certificate of Completion and find out whether he’d be one of the four men and women chosen to be the coaches and leaders of the Academy, he brought his wife and baby to be there with him, to share the moment, and to introduce us to his family. Ramadan, that’s the kind of man he is.
Ramadan stood out early on during training. He had a mature, calm, and kind demeanor. The depth of his dedication and work ethic was demonstrated. One afternoon we noticed him limping during the drills, several days into the training. When we asked him what was wrong, he told us that his shoes were too small, his feet were bleeding, and he was in pain. This didn’t stop him. He didn’t want to sit out. That dedication reminded us of the importance of this training, of the opportunity for a man like him. Like all the other refugees who have remained in the camps year after year, they’re future is uncertain, they don’t have the option choose their path or to do something they’re passionate about – such as coach soccer.
When developing and planning DUSA with the refugees, we always focused on the impact it could have on the children. Yet now, having trained the coaches and having come to meet Ramadan, we realize that the Darfur United Soccer Academy has also become a source of empowerment, inspiration, and pride for the men and women coaches and volunteers, like Ramadan, who lead it. Ramadan now has a job he is passionate about. He has stability in an unstable environment. He has an income for his family.
After announcing the four coaches, Ramadan came over to me, repeatedly saying thank you, and then awkwardly through his arms around me, hugging me for the first time. In that moment, it became clear to me that I really didn’t understand how meaningful this opportunity is for him and his family.
Join us, and follow the Darfur United Soccer Academy. In early 2014, the i-ACT team is heading back to camp Djabal to check in on the Academy, and we’ll be spending more time with Ramadan and the other three coaches!
Make a tax-deductible donation to the Darfur United Soccer Academy: https://org.salsalabs.com/o/711/donate_page/academy.