Editor’s note: This was originally posted on darfurunited.com by Darfur United Coach Ambassador Rachael Rapinoe.
Abdelrazik leads the DU boys down the pitch. Photo: Sean Toshima / i-ACT
The three dots at the end of this heading are imperative to include in this blog. Reasons to follow.
For those of you who have never observed a Darfuri futbol game in the refugee camps or training session out here in Osterstund, Sweden, it is quite a unique and charismatic sight. First of all, there are no referees, boundary lines or typical rules of the game in the camps. Insert imagination here. Secondly, no one has been taught how to slide tackle appropriately or safely (ouch). Third, free kicks and set plays, forget about it. Fourth, oh yes goalkeepers please do stay in your box. Nevertheless, with all that being said, futbol is futbol everywhere in the world. Their ability to absorb the information us coaches tell them, then apply it to the pitch is remarkable. They are truly developing as footballers, professionals and leaders.
The games are very difficult for them. They are much smaller in height and body mass, and we have the least amount of substitutes than any other team. But where these Darfuri men truly outshine, is the heart and passion they bring every time they step on the pitch. Whether it is a training session or a game, their excitement and love for futbol is always evident. As a coach, I have learned throughout the years you can’t coach passion into your players; they either have it or they don’t. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this tournament and hopefully many parts of the world have now seen the true Darfuri passion through these 16 men. They have been the light of the tournament and have brought many smiles to the faces of other players, spectators and our entire staff.
Hopefully, this isn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to step on the pitch with passionate Darfuri footballers.