Posts Tagged ‘Darfur United’

Soccer, Futbol by Any Other Name Still Helps

Darfur United team. Photo:

Darfur United team. Photo:

The world is super energized by the FIFA World Cup these days, with the most popular sport inspiring fans around the globe.

Just like rejecting the metric system, here in the US we reject the sport’s name as well, and insist on calling it soccer–to, you know, add confusion–but no matter the vocabulary, it is a nearly universal language of sport, and also a great avenue through which we can directly help communities in need.

There is no shortage of controversy about the host nation for the World Cup glossing over extreme cultural problems, hunger, homelessness, and unrest…and we know that happens in most countries when the international spotlight is shone upon them (us as well–ask homeless cause workers what happened when Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games).

It can also be a time to shine that great spotlight on some issues we can act upon, bringing attention and advocacy to address some, at least partially solvable, ills.

i-ACT is an organization seeking to “empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity.” One of their flagship programs is Darfur United, an all-star, all-Darfuri refugee soccer team that travels internationally to play and tell their story.  The organization also has travel programs to visit the refugee camps of Chad, to open up lines of international activism. Additionally, their Little Ripples program is creating pre-school programs for this population exposed to severe trauma. Volunteer opportunities as well as ways to support are varied and vital–check them out.

So it’s not just painting faces and screaming until we are hoarse–the world of soccer can open up eyes to issues that truly must be recognized and addressed within our global family.

Darfur United–Refugee Soccer Team Inspiring the World

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.