An Extra Line of Support
“We have become famous in our community,” Souliman said, speaking of himself and the other coaches of the Refugees United Soccer Academy in camp Goz Amer.
The Refugees United Soccer Academy is the only organized soccer program for boys and girls in camp Goz Amer—a camp of more than 20,000 refugees from Darfur, Sudan. Souliman and the coaches have gone above and beyond their call of duty—they’ve taken it upon themselves to ensure every child is supported and cared for, on and off the field.
On the field, Souliman says that he sees positive changes in the 834 players registered with the Academy. Most players, Souliman said, could barely dribble a ball through a line of cones when the Academy first started. But since launching the program in 2015, both boys and girls have significantly improved in the fundamentals of dribbling, passing and receiving, and they have a better understanding of the game of soccer.
Also, Souliman adds, the children are gaining more than just soccer skills. Through the Academy, Souliman explains, children are building relationships with peers from all over the camp and learning about each other. “Before the children in the camps stayed in their ‘blocks’ and with the people around them. They did not know a lot of other children. Now, children from all over the camp play together, they mix, and they come to know each other and be friends.That is, I think, important for the future of our community.”
It is off the field, however, through self-directed effort, where the coaches have grown their fame and expanded the impact of the Refugees United Soccer Academy. Souliman proudly describes how he and the coaches support and protect the children, even when they are not at the Academy. “For example, if one of our players has malaria and they are sick, we will visit their home, speak with their family and make sure the child is okay.” If a player is having trouble in school or if the coaches see or hear that something bad has happened to him or her, Souliman and the coaches are there for the child as mentors and facilitators. “We make sure to give extra support for every child that participates in the Academy. And because of this, mothers tell us, thank you.”
To learn more about the Refugees United Soccer Academy and ways you can support the coaches and players, visit the Refugees United Soccer Academy page.
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