If you did not get a chance to see our first blog post on Darfur United, please check it out here. Briefly, iAct is putting together an all star soccer team comprised of the best players in the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad. From roughly 280,000 refugees spread out over 12 camps across Chad, the top 5 players from each camp were invited to try out for Darfur United, the team that will represent Darfur in the Viva World Cup in Iraq in May of this year.
Darfur United is coming together! Over the last several days, the Darfur United coaches Mark Hodson and Brian Cleveland and iAct founder Gabriel Stauring have been in Camp Djabal in Eastern Chad running the tryouts for the team that will represent Darfur at the Viva World Cup. Their emotional accounts of the experience have been wonderful to follow and, as an Honorary Coach, Aid Still Required is here to give you an update on how everything is coming together.
While the men come from many different tribes, they are truly embodying their team moniker–coming together to represent the best of the people of Darfur before the world. On the morning of the second day of tryouts, the coaches were worried that the players slept in as the 5:30am start time passed…but emerging in direct line with the rising sun, they came running in together, clapping to the rhythm of their strides. It was what Mark Hodson called “a moment in your life that stays with you forever.” Their documentarian, James Thacher, was there to capture the moment that admittedly couldn’t have been scripted if they had tried.
With unbearably hot temperatures during the middle of the day, tryouts have been running from 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning and again from 3:30 in the afternoon until dusk while hundreds of fellow refugees watched from the sidelines and cheered. This is just a microcosm of what has been happening across the refugee camps for the last several months as athletes competed to be one of the five representatives from their refugee camp to travel to Camp Djabal to try out for Darfur United. Now, those who do not make the 20 member squad will go back to their camps, proud of their comrades and rooting them on as they train for the games in Iraq.
With the hardships of refugee life a constant reality, the joy of competition and the pride of playing for one’s country is a healing salve. Aid Still Required is proud to be a supporting organization of this beautiful endeavor. We will keep you updated as Darfur United trains for the Viva World Cup!