This blog was originally posted on DarfurUnited.com.
What excited us the most was hearing about the coaches’ work off the field, outside of the Soccer Academy. They have begun to visit primary schools across their camp in order to introduce the Soccer Academy, and to begin to build relationships with the students, teachers, and school directors. In doing so, they aim to get a better sense of the number of young children ages six to thirteen available to participate in the Soccer Academy, and to encourage more children to participate—especially girls. Upon visiting each school, the coaches received very positive feedback from each school director. Souliman shared their words (he had these quotes written down in his notebook):
“This is great news. I was a coach in this camp once, and I have some balls and players that I would like to share and send to your Soccer Academy.” – Director, Zakaria
“This is the first time to be introduced to you and the Soccer Academy. We are very happy to hear of this program because with football we can solve a lot of problems in our community. So we will support you.” – Director, Mohammed
Hearing the feedback from the school directors is a reminder that the Soccer Academy fills a huge gap in sports programming for young children in these camps. No organized soccer program exists in which children can advance their skills and learn peacebuilding and health curricula.