OK, how much do I love Darfur United? They are the all-refugee soccer team made up of Darfuri refugees living in the camps of Eastern Chad. Throughout the camps (and so many communities worldwide) a uniting force is the game of futbol, and the spirit of young and old, skilled and amateur, come together nearly anywhere you can find a flat patch of dirt. Soccer makes smiles and laughter bloom where the rest of the day misery takes root…it’s kind of magical.
I was never any good at the game when I was young, far more adept at kicking the shins of my teammates than that pesky black and white ball, but I had friends who played like demons. The 15 players of Darfur United are training, hoping to be part of this year’s Viva World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan…and beyond that, the movement that has rallied camp populations and forged connections to the outside world, will continue to provide sport programs for youths and adults in the camps.