The chosen Darfur United 15, singing their anthem with pride and heart during today's pre-game introduction.

The chosen Darfur United 15, singing their anthem with pride and heart during today’s pre-game introduction versus Padania.

After the game, our Darfur United players looked tired and upset. They went against a strong tournament favorite, Padania, a region of Northern Italy. It was painful to lose 20 to 0, no matter what we told them about how improved they looked from two years ago and the tournament in Iraq.

They did not stop going all out until the final whistle. I am so proud, and we were not lying. From the sideline, those of us that were in Iraq in 2012, saw remarkable improvement. We have a much more mature team, steady on the ball, and confident enough to make some nice connecting plays going forward. They had some beautiful moments, and they started before the game kicked off.

It was surreal for me, after all it took to get them here—really against all odds—the emotions would flood me, from one moment to the next … and then again.

After the game, all the reporters came to our Darfur United players. It was beautiful to see Iggy talking about Darfur. He did talk also about the tough game, but I overheard him saying: “We have faced so many struggles, to just be here means so much for Darfur, so that people can hear again about our home.” He took a tough moment and was able to look at the bigger picture.

My heart is so full, and my mind is playing over and over the many amazing moments we lived today. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

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