I was in Cologne, Germany for the weekend to attend the Confederation of International Football Association (CONIFA) Annual General Meeting 2014. A meeting where the CONIFA Global Executive Committee members, CONIFA Football Associations, individual members, press and interested persons come together to discuss the progress of CONIFA and it’s activities. Being the Executive Committee Director of Culture and Youth Exchanges, I had the pleasure of attending the meeting this year. I have not slept much over the past two days, due to travel and jet lag. Let’s just say I stopped counting the number of coffee cups I was drinking. But by the end of the AGM I was invigorated and so happy to have made the trip from L.A. for the weekend meeting.
The meeting was held at the beautiful Rhein Energie Stadium in Cologne. We sat with a view of the football pitch and stadium. Very fitting and inspiring for a global football organization. I presented on the status of the upcoming CONIFA World Football Cup cultural village and youth exchange program, as well as the next steps for the culture and youth exchange program globally. It was a long day. The agenda was ambitious, but we did manage to cover a lot of material as a group. All who were present provided such great insight and collaboration. The theme of the meeting was definitely unification and bringing people together through football – CONIFA’s main vision. It was nice to hear it be mentioned and repeated when topical issues came up.
Of course, I was also there representing Darfur United! At the meeting I was able to meet many other participating Football Associations as well as new individual members and journalists. It was great to share the Darfur United story, as well as talk about i-ACT’s work in general. There’s lots of interest in the team and I received a lot positive feedback and support in our efforts. CONIFA is a great organization for Darfur United to be a part of. There are many other Football Associations who are a part of CONIFA who are also, in their own way using soccer as a tool for peace and social inclusion in their communities.
I also had the pleasure of meeting the Malcolm Blackburn, John Towle and Calum Morrissey – the President, Vice President and Assistant Manager and team striker of MIFA from Isle of Man. MIFA is Darfur United’s “Twinned” team. Their efforts in helping Darfur United get to Sweden in June for the World Football Cup is remarkable, and it was so great to spend time with them yesterday. What a good group of guys. After the meeting, I had a great time, sharing a meal and some German beer with them, talking about our collaboration and what life is like in the refugee camps. You’ll be hearing more of them in the month’s leadings up to the World Football Cup!
All in all, great trip! And now that the meeting has happened, there’s lots of work to be done!