We are just days away from the launch of the fourth Darfur United Soccer Academy (DUSA) along the Chad-Sudan border. This week we’re in refugee camp Mile where the conditions are harsh and the sun is scorching.

We started DUSA coach tryouts with around 35 eager men and women and are down to 22 wonderfully fun and capable candidates.

I’ve been told that camp Mile is known for its football legacy and it didn’t take long to understand why — I actually wonder if some of these young men have gone a day in their lives without playing the game. Mile has six competitive mens teams afforded regular matches and tournaments, but the women and girls have no opportunity to play.

DUSA is going to change that. One of the men trying out came up to me earlier this week and expressed his excitement about the DU program. He told me, “We’ve been here [in the camps] since 2004 and this is the first time women have played football. The first time! It’s amazing.”

On Saturday, we will select two women and two men to become the Darfur United Soccer Academy coaches for refugee camp Mile. And they will be change makers. Breaking down barriers within their communities and defying traditional gender norms for the next generation of Darfuri girls and boys.


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