Introducing the First Burundian Coaches of the Refugees United Soccer Academy
Coach Esther is 20 years old and lives with her husband and their one year old daughter, Beckie. Beckie has been wrapped on Esther’s back for the majority of the three days of Refugees United Soccer Academy (RUSA) training. We were impressed by Esther’s ability to play so well with a baby on her back, and by the fact that her baby barely made a sound or a fuss despite her mother running, dribbling and kicking a ball around! When Esther decided to participate in the Academy training she was working for Plan International supervising children in a child friendly space. Despite already having a job, Esther wanted to be a soccer coach and knew the opportunity was rare. She took a few days off work to complete the training.
Today, out of 15 candidates, we selected Esther as the female coach of the Academy in Nduta Refugee Camp and it didn’t take her any time to decide whether to take the offer. “I want to be a coach because I’m skilled and I want the opportunity to teach children peace, helping, and sharing and to be a role model and show children how to be good people in the community and in the future.”
Coach Daniel is 26 years old and lives with his wife and their one year old baby girl. Since arriving to Nduta Refugee Camp almost three years ago, he hasn’t had the opportunity to hold a formal job. Today, we selected Daniel as the male coach of the Academy. For the first time in years, Daniel now has a job—and a very meaningful one. Plan International will be providing Daniel and Esther a salary for their roles as coaches, and soon they’ll be leading hundreds of children and youth in mindfulness, warm-ups and stretching, soccer drills, peacebuilding games, and health and hygiene curriculum. We asked Daniel why soccer was so important to him. He said, “Football is healthy and it helps me to be connected with others.”
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