We have our final team meeting with the Darfur United team tomorrow morning before we catch a flight back to N’Djamena and leave the players with the job to train themselves using the schedule Coach Mark leaves behind for the next eight weeks leading up to the Viva World Cup. I couldn’t imagine how hard it must be for the players to leave their families and obligations for two months so they can make Darfur United a reality. Now that is true sacrifice.
I always preach to my teams back home the importance of being a team player. To give yourself up to the team, so the team can be as successful as possible. A team player sacrifices many individual wants, needs and sometimes goals. Back home this might be things like time away from family and friends for daily practices and games, playing in a different position than hoped for, not being in the starting unit, not playing as much as wanted, amongst many others. It can create chaos with players and parents if they don’t buy into truly sacrificing for the sake of the team. The players of Darfur United need to sacrifice all of that and much more.
Some of our guys have wives and children back at their camps. They may be the bread winner that supports the family. Most of our players are teachers back at their camps. Most already have close to nothing, other than the family members who weren’t lost or scattered in the process of fleeing their homeland. They’re willing to sacrifice all of that to give the people of Darfur something to be proud of, someone to root for, and above all else hope for the first time since 2003. These 15 men will represent all of the Darfuri people who have been displaced from their homes and utterly ignored by their own government, and be the platform to tell the story of Darfur on an international stage. Can a soccer team help pave the way to peace? It’s been done before. A lot of people just see it as a game, but this game has changed history time and time again. That’s what makes it so beautiful. I can assure you Mark and I have chosen the right group of team players to do just that. They lead, they have passion, pride, and the skill and talent to pave the way to something really exciting. We helped the process begin, but what I really look forward to is the fate of Darfur United. Will we be able to raise enough money to feed the players, buy uniforms, pay for the airline tickets? Will the players be able to survive for so long away from their families, and stay UNITED as one throughout the process? I guess only time will tell…
Darfur United Assistant Coach