Refugees Truly United
Nduta Refugee Camp, Tanzania—Recently, I had the privilege of delivering a refresher training for Refugees United Soccer Academy (Academy) coaches in the Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania. Ten Burundian refugee men and women gathered to review the basics of the Academy program and learn additional skills and drills to do with their players. One of the major topics discussed was the coaches’ desire to connect more with their fellow coaches in the Mtendeli refugee camp, as well as other Academy coaches around the world. Little did they know I had a surprise in store for them. After completing the training in Nduta, I had arranged for the Academy coaches in the Mtendeli camp to travel to the Nduta camp to spend a day together with their fellow coaches. When both groups found out, they were ecstatic!
Early on Friday morning the Mtendli coaches traveled over an hour to arrive at the Nduta camp. When they entered into the child-friendly space, the Nduta coaches greeted them with hugs and smiles as if they had known each other for years, despite this being the first time they had ever met. We all gathered in a classroom and started the day with a fun name-game followed by mindfulness, allowing coaches from both camps to lead different exercises. After a short discussion on how the two groups were delivering the Academy program in their respective camps, we were joined by soccer coaches from the nearby schools in the camp. This was a great opportunity to share the Academy program with them, discuss common challenges and solutions, and identify ways to work together. Although the overall discussion was positive, it eventually went down the path of venting frustrations about particular challenges the coaches were facing: not enough program materials, not enough playing space, lack of support from parents, etc. This was a perfect segue to the next activity.