by guest contributor Hugh Biggar

Want to combine your love of soccer with a good cause? Consider one more assist each time your team scores.

iACT is looking for help in supporting its work in refugee camps in eastern Africa. The camps are home to nearly 400,000 men, women, and children from Darfur in western Sudan. The Darfur region is in a humanitarian crisis as part of an ongoing genocide against Darfuris that began more than a decade ago.

Since 2003, militia backed by the Sudanese government have attacked Darfur towns and villages and displaced roughly four million people. iACT formed to provide advocacy, nutrition, education and trauma recovery programs for Darfuris, living in camps in Chad. Soccer is also on that list.

“A soccer ball—anywhere —is the perfect tool to inspire leadership, friendship, hope, and pure joy,” iACT Founding Executive Director Gabriel Stauring says.

To help with this, iACT has soccer academies and clinics in several camps and also manages Darfur United, the men’s and, hopefully soon, women’s teams that represent the tribes of Darfur. (You can read more about the men’s team in this article).

Here’s how you can help make a difference, too. Each spring, iACT holds an annual One Strong Kick campaign. The campaign includes asking communities to host Kicks and Hope tournament during April, Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. For the tournament, individuals can set up four on four tournaments in their communities to help raise money the organization’s programs.

I tried this myself last year but ran into problems with limited field availability and expensive permit and use fees. Instead, I turned to my recreational league soccer team and asked teammates to contribute whatever amount they wanted for each goal the team scored. I kicked in $10 myself for each goal (the cost of annual membership in the Darfur United soccer academy for a child), others $5, whatever worked. I told my brother about it and he contributed as well, so you don’t have to limit yourself to teammates. The season was a little rocky and we finished out of the playoffs, but more positively the team raised more than $700 for goals scored across ten games.

The top scorers on the team received some small prizes — the soccer equivalent of ‘white elephant’ swag like a pink soccer-themed water bottle. I then sent along the money raised to i-Act’ s One Strong Kick effort, with the funds helping support a range of activities including x. One strong kick can indeed get the ball rolling to great things on and off the field.

To learn about One Strong Kick more or to contribute, visit: http://darfurunited.com/strongkick/

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