We’ve completed our second full day of training with the potential Darfur United Soccer Academy coaches. First of all, it’s been so great to see Rachael in action. She is certainly setting the bar high for all future DU Coach Ambassadors! It’s not only her ability to teach football and lead others, but its her enthusiasm, energy, and her genuine affection for the refugees. Today, she gave each candidate the opportunity to lead the group through all the drills, skills and exercises they had learned so far. It was impressive to see all of them, having only practiced these skills and drills for a day and a half, to be working together to set up the cones and players, working hard to get it right, and encouraging each other along the way. Their method of encouragement is clapping, and they all do it collectively as a group for each individual. I love it!

Every day is warm out here, but today, the sun was sizzling. It must have been at least 105 degrees. My skin felt like it was burning. Yet the elements don’t matter. It may be hot. The field not the most conducive, but playing football, watching each of the candidates learn, play, work hard, laugh, and encourage each other, allows you to forget. I forget that I’m in the middle of nowhere in eastern Chad. I forget that the players are refugees. I’m just in the moment, with these young men and women, who are giving it their all.

Being a part of the first Darfur United Soccer Academy and participating in the trainings each day, is priceless. I’m so proud. Proud of the program. Proud of the men and women who have come out for a chance to be a coach.  And now I’ll end my blog the same way that we end the trainings each day. We form a tight circle, put our hands in, and yell, DU Academy! DU Academy! DU Academy!

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