Refugees United Soccer Academy

A place for refugee girls and boys to learn about teamwork, leadership, and peacebuilding, while improving their soccer skills.

The Refugees United Soccer Academy (Academy) is a place for refugee girls and boys ages 6 to 18 to learn about teamwork, leadership, and peacebuilding, all while improving soccer skills.

The Academy was co-created with refugee communities and offers children, whose families have been displaced by extreme violence, a safe space to play, heal, and be empowered. iACT trains and employs two male and two female refugees to serve as the leaders and coaches of each Academy. Each week, the coaches lead children in mindfulness exercises, warm-ups, skills and drills activities, scrimmages, and team-building exercises. Ultimately, their goal is to provide a safe place for refugee children to learn soccer, lead, play, grow, and be children. The Academy also serves as a way to connect refugee children and youth with soccer players and clubs across the U.S. and globally.

LOCATIONS

Little Ripples is active in Chad, Tanzania, and Cameroon.

CHAD (DARFUR CRISIS)

The Darfur genocide took place in 2003, killing nearly 370,000 individuals and displacing more than 3 million. Today, approximately 340,00 Darfuri refugees are living in 12 camps in eastern Chad with limited access to critical services. Building on the need for programs in Chad that address trauma and promote education, health, peacebuilding, and social integration, iACT launched the RUSA program in Chad in 2013. iACT worked directly with Darfuri refugee communities there to develop the RUSA program and continues to work directly with these same communities to implement the program. iACT works in collaboration with its partner the Jesuit Refugee Service in Chad.

OUR

IMPACT

Leila is an Academy coach in refugee camp Djabal. She was one of the first coaches of the program in 2013 and has been instrumental in increasing the participation of young girls in the sport and program. “Mothers did not understand the importance of sport. They would say, “You are keeping my children from me for many hours.” After a while, parents saw that when their child was in sport, their child was more behaved and at peace in the home. Now they encourage their children to come and play at the Academy.”

8

RUSA-Darfur Academies currently operating in Chad

184

Darfuri refugee coaches trained

DARFUR CRISIS

FACTS

370,000

estimated people killed in Darfur genocide (Reeves)

3 million

people displaced by Darfur genocide (Reeves)

340,000

Darfuri refugees living in eastern Chad (Reeves)

CHAD

NEWS & RESOURCES

Sudanese refugees in Chad short of basics

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Darfur Refugees in Eastern Chad: The Most Invisible Casualties of the Darfur Genocide

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TANZANIA (BURUNDI CRISIS)

In April 2015, political violence and insecurity forced over 400,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries. Currently, approximately 200,000 Burundian refugees are residing in 3 refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. Many young Burundian refugee children and youth are out of currently out of school and have limited access to healthy recreational programs. In 2018, with our partner Plan International Tanzania, iACT launched the RUSA program in the Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps in western Tanzania to support these children and ensure they could exercise their right to healthy development.

OUR

IMPACT

Esther is a Refugees United Soccer Academy coach in Nduta Camp. She is one of few women in her community coaching soccer. “I want to be a coach because after this [Academy] training, I’m skilled; and I like to coach because I get opportunities to teach peace, helping, and sharing, and be a role model and show children how to be good people in their community and future.”

2

RUSA-Burundi Academies currently operating in Tanzania

30

Burundian refugee coaches trained

2,915

Burundian refugee children reached so far
TANZANIA CRISIS FACTS

>400,000

Burundians displaced as refugees due to violence (UNHCR)

200,000

Burundian refugees living in western Tanzania (UNHCR)

>140,000

Burundian refugee children out-of-school in Tanzania (Camp enrollment figures)

TANZANIA

NEWS & RESOURCES

Burundian mother stands out in male-dominated carpentry class in Tanzania (UNHCR)

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Refugee Children Battle for Education in Tanzania (UNHCR)

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CAMEROON

In 2013, thousands of people were forced to flee the Central African Republic (CAR) due to an outbreak of violence, and ongoing conflict has forced many to remain in neighboring countries. Currently, there are over 250,000 refugees from CAR living in Eastern Cameroon. Basic needs such as: food, health, shelter, and water are all primary concerns for the refugee communities and access to other social, protective, and education services remain severely limited. In 2016, iACT launched the RUSA program in the Gado refugee camp in northeastern Cameroon, with logistics support from the Jesuit Refugee Service.

OUR

IMPACT

Stanislas and Aran are two of the four coaches leading the Academy in Gado refugee site. “Life is hard in Gado Camp,” but being a coach of the Academy is a source of inspiration, happiness, and purpose for all four of them, says Stanislas. Aran is a very skilled player and dreams of playing professionally. In his spare time, Aran organizes soccer training and teams for women in his community.

1

RUSA-CAR Academy currently operating in Cameroon

35

Central African coaches trained

1,225

Central African refugee children reached so far

CAMEROON (CAR CRISIS)

FACTS

2.9 million

people in need of humanitarian support inside CAR (UNOCHA)

590,000

Central Africans displaced as refugees due to violence (UNHCR)

340,000

Darfuri refugees living in eastern Chad (Reeves)

CAMEROON

NEWS & RESOURCES

BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman outlines the background to the CAR crisis in two minutes

watch

CAR Refugees Sing for Peace at Camp in Cameroon

watch

2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Central African Republic

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Hundreds of thousands of people have found safe haven in Cameroon but have limited access to food, water and healthcare

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REFUGEE STAFF

PROFILES

Daniel

Daniel

When violence broke out in Burundi in 2015, Daniel’s father was killed due to his involvement in a government opposition party.

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Violette

Violette

Violette spent 15 years living in the Kanembwa refugee camp in Tanzania due to violence in Burundi in 1993, which is where she met her husband.

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Innocent

Innocent

When Innocent was younger, youth military groups regularly tried to recruit him. When things got so bad, his family encouraged him to flee.

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Delphine

Delphine

Delphine and her family fled Burundi due to threats of violence from militia groups and the zone leader where her family lived.

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Esther

Esther

Esther loves being a RUSA coach and was proud to see one of her girls’ teams win a camp tournament last year. She shares her love of football with her husband who is very supportive of her work.

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Jannette

Jannette

When Jannette married her husband, they both dropped out of school at grade 9 to run a small business together.

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Eliana

Eliana

Eliana was born a refugee in the Kanembwa refugee camp in Tanzania. She dropped out of school in grade 7 because the the Tanzanian government shut down the schools in her camp.

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Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie loved playing football since childhood. Growing up, he realized that he wanted to share his football skills with children to help them grow up into good football players.

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Anaclet

Anaclet

While Anaclet was born in Burundi, when he was 7-months old, his family sought asylum in the Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania. Eventually the family repatriated back to Burundi.

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Irene

Irene

Due to political violence in Burundi in 2015, Irene’s father and grandfather were killed. At this time, youth militias also tried to recruit Irene and her sister due to their athletic nature.

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Chantal

Chantal

When conflict broke out in Burundi in 2015, some of Chantal’s family members were killed. When her family received further threats of more violence, they decided to flee to Tanzania.

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Etienne

Etienne

Etienne was born a refugee in the Mutabili refugee camp in Tanzania in 1993. He completed primary school there and eventually repatriated to Burundi with his family in 2008.

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Claudine

Claudine

When violence broke out in Burundi in 2015, Claudin’s father was killed due to his ethnicity and her mother eventually re-married.

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Emery

Emery

Emery was born a refugee in the Myuovozi refugee camp in Tanzania. He and his family were eventually transferred to the Mutabili refugee camp in Tanzania in 2007, but were force to return to Burundi in 2012.

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Happy

Happy

In Burundi, Happy grew up in the care of his grandmother and considers himself an orphan. He was in secondary school when the conflict in Burundi broke out in 2015.

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TAKE

ACTION

Sustainer of Action

Help advance our mission to provide humanitarian action to aid, empower, and extend hope to those affected by mass atrocities.

Sister Club

Form a relationship between your soccer team, club, or region and refugee Academy players.

Volunteer

iACT is always looking for people like you to join our community and contribute your skills.

RELATED NEWS

Announcing iACT’s Newest Team Members!

Announcing iACT’s Newest Team Members!

Abdullah. Nouha. Idriss. Fatna. Photo: Gabriel Stuaring/iACT I'd like to introduce the newest coaches of the Refugees United Soccer Academy! These four women and men hail from Darfuri camp Iridimi, and will be training boys and girls there in soccer skills,...

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Solidarity on the Field

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...

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