Remember how exciting and inspiring it was to get the Darfur United team to Iraqi-Kurdistan to compete in the VIVA World Cup!? Well, we get to relive this excitement and inspiration again this year, as we prepare the team for the ConIFA World Championship in Sweden!
What is ConIFA?
The World Championship for nationless teams has come under a new organization and leadership – the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA). ConIFA is a global non-profit organization that supports representatives of international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, and minority peoples and sports isolated territories. It recently came into existence, and Darfur United was proud to join ConIFA, since their mission is similar to ours in that it seeks to bridge the world through football.
ConIFA will not only be bringing global teams together to compete, but will be facilitating cultural and youth exchanges, hosting cultural events and exhibitions during the World Championship, and really trying to increase awareness and understanding of other cultures by bringing players and fans from different teams together. It will be such a great opportunity to not only showcase Darfur football but also the Darfur people! To this end, we will definitely be working with the Darfur United players to use the World Championship Sweden as a platform to share their culture, their stories, their plight in the refugee camps, and to spread their message of hope and peace.
ConIFA World Championship Sweden is set for May 31 to June 8, 2014. While it may seem far away, we have a lot of work ahead of us to get the team there! We’ve already planned to hold try outs and allow for two months of team training in springtime. But team training is only part of the process. Being an all-refugee team, they lack many of the basic necessities available to athletes. For instance, we’ll have to increase their daily caloric intake and hydration during their training. We’ll also have to provide them the basic toiletries and extra clothes for traveling!
I’d like to leave you with some heartening quotes I came across when looking back on Darfur United blogs and emails. These are quotes from friends and colleagues who have been involved with DU and who were with the team in Iraqi-Kurdistan in 2012. These quotes help put things in perspective and remind us that the DU impact is made on both the players and those involved.
“Hanging out with the Darfur United players, it was easy to forget where they came from and what they have gone through. They are the kindest and most joyful group you’ll ever meet. It is powerful to see courage that is quiet, humble, and driven.” – Gabriel Stauring
“This experience was life changing for me and I am thankful to the people of i-ACT for making it happen.” – Ben Holden, DU volunteer soccer trainer from England
“They are unselfish, kind-hearted, athletic young men with dreams of a united and peaceful Darfur. They are gathering up so many VIVA World Cup newspapers, fliers, and posters. They want to bring the memorabilia back to teach and inspire the people in their camps.” – Alex Nuttall-Smith, DU volunteer athletic trainer from Los Angeles
Join us in Sweden 2014 by supporting Darfur United HERE! Just one click will help them get there.