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.

Learn more about the training and the certification of completion here.

+

We work hand-in-hand with refugees to provide food, create jobs, build preschools and establish youth soccer academies in camps around the world. It’s for refugees, led by refugees.

Only with the help of generous supporters like you, alongside the UEFA Foundation For Children, will we be able to support 8,180 refugee boys and girls in this project.

LOCATIONS

The Academy 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

read more

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

read more

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)

read more

Refugee Children Battle for Education in Tanzania (UNHCR)

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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

iACT’s Impact toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

iACT’s Impact toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals “are a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” iACT’s programs may not have been borne out of an intentional response to any of the “UN SDGs,” as...

read more
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,...

read more
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...

read more