Sunshine and warmer temperatures have finally melted away the layers of snow and ice that blanketed Östersund’s football pitches—just in time for the start of Darfur United’s spring season! Once separated across several Swedish cities, the majority of the Darfur United players now reside in Östersund and have joined a local division 6 league as part of ÖFK Cosmos. They are coached in the league by long-time supporter and Darfur United Executive Board Member Alan Barker. The team produced a 1-1 draw against opponent IFK Strömsund last week after a late goal from Mohammed Adam (a.k.a. “Cristiano”). Stay updated on DU’s league standings and schedule for the remainder of the season here.

Beyond the pitch, the team members remain active in their professional spheres and community life! DU teammates Moubark Abdallah and Mohammed Nin continue to work with DU supporter Östersund FK. Both players were able to attend the UEFA Europa League ÖFK v Arsenal match at Jämtkraft Arena in February. Recently, Bishara Abdlrhman traveled to Birmingham, UK, to continue his involvement with the Lobben Project. This organization focuses on the role of leadership and sport to help young people in Sweden. Balancing their schooling, work, soccer careers, and being far away from their families is not easy for DU players, but they continue to highlight their commitment to being role models of hope and inspiration for the people of Darfur.

The coming months are full of soccer-action across the globe. In just over a week, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) will open its 2018 World Football Cup (WFC) with teams representing people of nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples, and sports-isolated territories that are often excluded in international football. After participating in the tournament in 2014, Darfur United just missed qualification for the tournament this year; however, they remain an active participant in the association. Recognizing the tough competition, many of the DU team players are pulling for a WFC victory from a squad representing CONIFA’s Africa region—either Matabeleland or Barawa.