“We’ve already won……we’ve already won……We’re Darfur United and we’ve already won!”

It’s 4am…Game day…I can’t sleep!

Tonight we play our first ever “official game.” Indeed Darfur’s first ever game, and it is in the VIVA World Cup, in a real football stadium against the 4th highest ranked Non-FIFA team in the World and arguable favorites “Northern Cyprus” …oh yes…and we are in Iraqi Kurdistan!

As first games go…or any game for that matter…I don’t think it gets any bigger than this!

Our team is incredible, sure they can play a little, but what truly sets them apart as giants of the VIVA World Cup, is the manner in which they have navigated every challenge and emotion from start to finish in this epic journey of suffering, pain, family, community, friendship, hope and teamwork.

10 Weeks ago each player left their respective camp to attend a try-out for Darfur United, an unknown entity with unknown expectations. Most players have not yet been back home since that day. As they look forward to tonight, they will create history by pulling on the beautiful green uniform for the very first time. I have no doubt that it will become an iconic symbol for hope and joy for a people who have faced such untold and unjust adversity.

I cannot wait to present each player with their game jersey, to shake them by the hand and hug them for their achievement in becoming the most “United” team on the planet.

To tell them that their families back home will be aching from head to toe with happiness to know that their sons, brothers, friends, fathers…the men who make up Darfur United will tonight be representing a new hope and a new future for the people of Darfur and they will soon return to tell their story and to start the next chapter in this beautiful story Darfur United 2.

To tell them that people all over the world will be scrambling to find a link on their computer to try to see one second of action from their game and to “wish” positive vibes across continents.

Tonight they will finally have the chance to celebrate their journey on the field, and regardless of the result, we all know…”They’ve already won!”

Mark Hodson

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