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Not Even Half a Day

By Gabriel / March, 31, 2012

We started the day way too early, waking up at four. The roosters were upset because we disturbed them.

We scheduled a car at five, so we could get to the camps before sunrise and then get in some good hours before the blistering heat becomes unbearable. We did not want the Darfur United try-outs to be an extreme endurance, life-risking event.

There were things that needed setting up before the players arrived. DarU banners were hung; cones were set up by the coaches, Mark and Brian; t-shirts were arranged for distribution; and cameras were readied.

Then, from the east and as if coming right out of the sun, the players came jogging in formation and doing drills, as if they had been together training and playing for years—not just having met a day or two before. They were close to sixty refugee soccer players, and they kept doing their jogging and drills around and around the field. Three Americans and one Brit were impressed.

They stopped and formed circles, with a player-leader directing the others on stretching.

All players were brought in to the community center, Darfur United’s headquarters for the next few days. Coach Mark told them about the day ahead, being united, and having fun. They come from twelve camps that are the homes to over 280,000 refugees. They were all picked as the best five from each of those camps. They should be proud.

Fifteen of these young men will be Darfur United.

It was time to play, and for the coaches to observe. So many good players!

Some of them seem particularly focused on being one of the fifteen.

After a few rounds of games, the players were called back in to the DarU headquarters. They were registered and photographed, and some got to talk to James about their experiences.

Our good friend, Adam, helped to translate for coach and players, and we then walked with him home to see his family and talk some more. Adam is a special man. His philosophy is caring for others, and through this, experiencing life. He has beautiful children. His oldest boy wants to be a human rights lawyer, and now Raya, his oldest girl, wants the same. I would not expect any thing less from Adam’s kids.

At nine in the morning, we headed back to the UNHCR compound, to do some work. It was only nine! It felt like such a long, amazing, and hard to believe day. Emotionally surreal. We go back at 3:30 in the afternoon for another session of try-outs and to be with friends.


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6 Responses to Not Even Half a Day

  • Rachel

    Loved the pictures. So wonderful to see Adam again!!! He is an amazing man. Please tell him. His eyes tell the story…

  • Esther

    Thank you for providing a way for these young men to engage with the world through soccer. May their journey help lead the people of Darfur back home.

  • martha

    Beautiful photos!! So excited for everyone. This is so great! Please let the guys and everyone know they are all in our thoughts and prayers, always!!! Wishing them all the very best!! THANK YOU!!!!!!
    Martha from DC

  • Chuol Tut

    I think this will be wonderful things for the young people to play in the soccer field. It will be better chance to for them, as a former refugee i knew how the life is so difficult in the camp. I live in camp for many years and when i saw the sand they play, it bring back my member when i use to play like them in the camp.

    • Gabriel

      Dear Chuol Tut
      Thank you for your message of support, and it has special meaning coming from you. I will let the Darfur United players about your message.

      Best, Gabriel.

  • Tariq Ahmed


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