It was so great to get back to refugee camp Djabal in eastern Chad and conduct a 3-month follow up on the Darfur United Soccer Academy. The Academy has been up and running since the end of October 2013, when it was launched with 30 children. Since then, the coaches have signed up 850 children, about 350 girls and 450 boys, and are conducting the Academy six days a week, three times a day!

Youth are being coached in the morning and children are attending the Academy in the afternoons. The Coaches have decided to divide up the afternoon session in two in order to better divide the age range of children from 6 to 13 years.  All children signed up are participating twice a week, and when it is not their day to play, many still come and watch!

Arafa MohamedDUSA Player Highlight:                                                                                Arafa Mohamed                                                                                                       Age: 10                                                                                                                 Refugee Camp: Djabal

Favorite thing about the Academy:
Getting to play soccer for the first time with her friends.

Quote: “I want to be the best player so when I grow up I can teach other children football.”

Based on interviews with some of the children participating, the Academy is the first structured sport activity they’ve been a part of, and the first time girls have been given the opportunity to play soccer with their peers.

Here are what the children reported liking most about the Academy:
1. The time when they scrimmage
2. Learning new things such as how to pass and receive the ball
3. Making new friends from other parts of the refugee camp they had never seen or met before
4. The coaches – they are new role models (highly reported by girls when referencing the women coaches)

Additionally, based on interviews with the DUSA female coaches Leila and Habiba, both now feel that have become leaders in their community. For example, they explained to me, that they’ve taken on the role of advocating to parents the importance of sport as supplemental education and healthy activity for the children.

Moving forward, the coaches will report weekly on the attendance of children, the number of children treated with basic first aid, and the “life lessons” taught to the children each week.

We’re doing it!! We’re creating a safe place where children feel comfortable to come and play, move, learn, and make new friends. Help us scale up the DUSA program to the other refugee camps in eastern Chad!

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