Building Soccer Skills, Peace, and Gender Equality
Here’s an update from refugee camp Goz Amer on the Refugees United Soccer Academy (the Honolulu Galaxy FC Sister Club!). From our observations, conversations with the coaches, players, and community, it sounds like the coaches continue to do an incredible job. The total number of children participating in the program to-date is 774, with 450 boys and 279 girls. In order to serve so many children, the coaches assign players to a team: Team Barcelona, Real Madrid, Darfur United, and Chelsea (of course!), as well as Souliman, Sadiya, Issaq, and Thouhilia (the names of the coaches). Days and times are assigned to each team, and that’s how players know what day of the week and what time of the day they’re scheduled to practice.
Sitting in the RUSA “Club House” at the Little Ripples school, I listened to the coaches as they shared updates on the Academy since it was first launched in December 2015.
Building Soccer Skills
The coaches first shared how they’ve seen a lot of changes in the children. “Our players,” they say with pride, “are improving their skills and the drills have become much easier for them.” Coach Souliman added that players are also more engaged and pay better attention. They understand how to better stay organized, stand in lines, listen, and follow instructions.
The coaches also reported that the children are much less violent — an initial objective of our program. In the first few months of the Academy, the players were often getting into fights with each other. Many players did not want to share, and there was very little teamwork. Now, Coach Thouhilia said, “It is so much easier to coach! The children pay attention, they listen to me, and they are much nicer to each other. They share the equipment and aren’t afraid of letting others try too.”
Building Gender Equality
And now for a topic very near and dear to my heart: opportunities for girls. The coaches said confidently and enthusiastically that the perceptions of girls playing soccer changed in their camp community. “Because of RUSA, it is much more accepted and parents are okay for their girls to play,” said Coach Souliman. Coach Thouhilia added, “For girls to play is important because it gives them confidence and lets them be kids. And for all kids, it will improve their health, character, and future.”
This program is entirely refugee-led and we’re so proud of that. We’re so proud that Souliman, Sadiya, Issaq and Thouhilia are the ones teaching, shaping, and influencing the children in their community.
Thank you to Honolulu Galaxy FC for being a Sister Club and supporting Refugees United Soccer Academy — Darfur in camp Goz Amer! Thank you for joining our efforts and choosing to invest in the potential of this amazing Darfuri refugee community.
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