On my first trip to the Darfuri refugee camps of eastern Chad, Gabriel and I played four against 15 with sandals perched in the sand for goal posts. Since the other team didn’t assume I could really play, they left me unmarked. My first goal resulted in lots of laughter from the crowd as they mocked the team who was scored on by a girl!
Soccer has always been a passion of mine, and one that’s shared by millions around the world. The Darfur United Soccer Academy is a chance to turn this passion and friendly rivalry (fans of Barcelona and Real Madrid divide the camp) into a way forward for the children and youth of Darfur.
The men who participated in Darfur United’s journey to the Viva World Cup last year vividly remember the attacks on their villages in Sudan. While the participants of the Darfur United Soccer Academy might be too young to remember, they live in a place surrounded by trauma with little psycho-social resources or support. They’ve had the normality and the joys of their childhood robbed, and in turn have had no chance to be real children who play and live carefree.
I hope that the Darfur United Soccer Academy not only provides a safe place for children, boys and girls, to come together from different tribes to play, but also a place where they can simply be children. Play is a human right. Play helps our children and youth be well rounded, gain confidence, and grow as leaders. The Darfuris deserve this too.
We are a long way off from our $45,000 needed to launch the Academy in camps Mile and Kounoungo. Generous communities and individuals have given $10,605 so far and we want to launch this fall. Help us be part of giving children and youth back their childhood.
There are several ways you can support the Academy.
- Join us at ONE STRONG KICK on May 11. If you can’t attend, consider participating in the raffle. This event is sponsored by Justin Vineyards and Wine and Mi Casa Tequila and hosted at a stunning private home in Palos Verdes, CA.
- Start a gently new and used gear drive in your community or approach local businesses to be a drop off site. We have regional volunteers ready to help make your drive a success. We are looking for soccer balls, cones, jerseys, pop up goals, and referee gear. You can use this poster!
- Throw a DU Soccer Academy fundraiser in your community. We have lots of ideas, and will support you in anyway we can!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Darfur United Project Coordinator, Sara-Christine Dallain at email@example.com.