Coaches Mark and Brian embark on their first meeting with the potential players of Darfur United. Mark writes:

As the sun dimmed and we prepared to leave for the day we seized the opportunity to bring the players together for a briefing for tomorrow’s commencement of action. Through the use of our amazing 16 year old translator Rahma, we shared with the players that this was “their team” and that it was our goal to unite them on and off the field over the next six days and hopefully in a meaningful enough way that these new relationships might flourish and serve to bring some of the solutions that these people are seeking. There is unfortunately little hope for many of the people in these camps. Education is minimal and despite the amazing effort of groups such as i-ACT, the opportunity for individuals to move on to achieve much greater things with their lives is often a step too far. Read more here…

Before the i-ACT team left, we tried to collect as many cleats as possible in sizes 9-12. We were able to collect enough for the 20 players selected to be on the team, but not for everyone trying out. At first there are a few grumblings about this, but soon the pride of Darfur United shines through. Brian shares his experience:

One player asked to speak, and when we motioned to him he stood up and spoke straight from the heart. He was saying that this team is for Darfur. That this is not for the sake of individuals. For the first time since they fled their homes, Darfur is once again being United. Once this player spoke, it opened up the stage for a few more players to make their voices heard. They spoke about how they were grateful that Gabriel has done all the work to make this a reality and that cleats should be the last thing on their mind. This moment grabbed me in a way that no documentary, news article, or blog ever could. These Darfuri refugees were voicing their feelings right in front of me, for the world to hear. Read more here.

Here are a few photos of Darfur United hopefuls: