Solidarity on the Field
When I woke up about an hour before my alarm went off today, I can’t say I was particularly surprised. It happens every time I am more excited than usual for my soccer games, a special practice, or in this case, my first time helping to train and select new coaches for the next Refugees United Soccer Academy. My eagerness to begin was well worth the ten days or so that we have been in Chad before making our way here to Camp Iridimi!
We began our session with the basics: a good, long warm up and some simple passing drills. My coaches taught me how to do these things when I was just starting to play as a child, but for many of the coaching candidates, it was their very first time playing organized soccer.
Luckily, this is exactly the type of environment I want to be in as a coach. I love watching young or new players’ eyes light up with excitement and playfulness as they get that first taste of just how wonderful the game of soccer can be. The women seemed to have grown in confidence in just the two hours that we spent together—realizing that yes, they can be footballers.
I wouldn’t be able to work with the coaches here without the help of our current Academy coaches—Souli, Moubarak Haggar, and Aida—who traveled from other refugee camps to help translate, coach, and demonstrate activities. They are incredible. Their natural abilities to teach children and help them grow as well-rounded individuals inspires me to be a better coach.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share my passion for the game with others. The lessons and relationships that I have gained because of soccer have made me believe my wildest dreams could come true, and that’s certainly how I feel playing soccer on a sandy field in eastern Chad. I can’t wait for the next group of Academy players and coaches to find that same sense of love and efficacy in the coming months. With the way practices are going, it looks like I will be up early all week! On to Day 2!
The school year has just begun for Little Ripples in eastern Chad refugee camps! Help us keep our schools running by sponsoring one student for a month at $20, providing a month of meals for one classroom at $50, or giving $100 for a teacher's monthly salary.
These programs are entirely community-led. They made every decision from which day to run the program to what hours and to who will be on the teaching team each day. The teams are diverse and yet they have committed to working together.
Trust in the process. Trust in the modeling before the explanation. Trust in the people. Trust in the children, and they will trust you.
If there is anything that can foster community between people and across cultures, it is sharing a meal and a cup of tea. While we do that, we will also be sure to sprinkle in some early childhood development, mindfulness, and games!