Refugees United Soccer Academy

A place for refugee girls and boys to learn about teamwork, leadership, and peacebuilding, all while improving soccer skills.

The Refugees United Soccer Academy is a place for refugee girls and boys ages 6 to 13 to learn about teamwork, leadership, and peacebuilding, all while improving soccer skills.

It offers children, whose families have been displaced by extreme violence, a safe space to play, heal, and be empowered. iACT trains and employs two male and two female refugees to serve as the leaders and coaches of each Academy. The Academy also serves as a way to connect refugee children and youth with soccer players and clubs across the U.S. and globally.

Darfur

Refugees United Soccer Academy – Darfur (RUSA – Darfur) was born from the Darfur United Men’s Team after their first appearance in the Viva World Football Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012.

Building on the need for programs that address trauma and promote education, health, peacebuilding, and social integration, iACT works directly with refugees to develop and implement the Academy. For six days a week, four coaches—two refugee men and two refugee women—lead children in mindfulness exercises, warm-ups, skills and drills activities, scrimmages, and team-building exercises. Ultimately, their goal is to provide a safe place for refugee children to learn soccer, lead, play, grow, and be children.

 

FACTS

8

RUSA-Darfur Academies in Chad

12

Academies in eastern Chad (1 in each Darfuri refugee camp) by 2019

32

Darfuri RUSA Coaches

10,000

current capacity at the academies


ACTION

Join The Pride: the official supporters’ club for Darfur United men’s team!

Sister Clubs: Team Partnerships

A full-year’s sponsorship of one DUSA child is only $10, and the impact of one soccer academy is far-reaching: one DUSA provides a safe environment for children in an entire refugee camp to play, learn soccer, and thrive.


IMPACT

PROFILE: SOULIMAN

"Football, to me, is everything. Football is support. Football is health. It means relationships and it means peace.” -- Coach Suliman

Coach Souliman is 32 years old, and was the captain of the original 2012 Darfur United Men's Team (DU) that traveled to Iraq. He returned to his camp with pride, energy, and the determination to share the skills he had learned through DU with the children of his camp. As DU Head Coach Mark Hodson describes, Souliman was "born to lead. He is a lion-hearted individual who bleeds the green and white [colors of DU]. He will never let you down on or off the field, and will give his all to represent for his people….We need more Soulimans in this world!"

Souliman works alongside coaches Issag, Sadiya, and Thouhilia to manage the program on and off the field. The coaches make sure to visit the schools regularly and communicate with teachers. They’re even present in players’ home-lives. When it comes to managing major conflicts and fighting, the group has created its own response. Following any major incident, the coaches head home with the kids after practice to sit with them and their parents to explain that the behavior is not okay.

Coach Souliman says, “I feel so good, and know that I will become a leader in Goz Amer. I hope to travel to other camps one day and help train new coaches."


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Central African Republic

Refugees United Soccer Academy – Central African Republic (RUSA – Central African Republic) opened in June 2016 in refugee site Gado. Gado is barely twenty kilometers away from the border between Cameroon and Central African Republic (CAR).

The site is on the Cameroon side, with the refugees coming from CAR. Most of them arrived in 2014, escaping brutal mass violence that continues to tear apart their small nation.  iACT employs four coaches, two men and two women, all of whom are refugees. The coaches, Stanislas, Gislaine, Rachidatou, and Haron, are role models for the players and create spaces that are peaceful and joyous for the children of Gado.

 

FACTS

1,000

children ages 6-13 are registered

45%

of Academy players are girls

2

sites make up refugee camp Gado

22,000

CAR refugees live in Gado


ACTION

Sponsor Play, Give Hope

A donation of just $10 sponsors one year of play for one refugee boy or girl, and helps i-ACT train and employ more coaches, deliver more soccer equipment, organize in-camp tournaments.

Sister Clubs: Team Partnerships

A full-year’s sponsorship of one DUSA child is only $10, and the impact of one soccer academy is far-reaching: one DUSA provides a safe environment for children in an entire refugee camp to play, learn soccer, and thrive.


IMPACT

PROFILE: GHISLAINE

Ghislaine is 23 years old and lives with and cares for her young daughter and her little brother. She has been living in Gado for one year and seven months. In Bangui, before the conflict, she was just beginning her last year of technical high school. In Gado, she has worked for CARE and Plan International, visiting homes to raise awareness among parents of the importance of education. What Ghislaine was most excited to tell us about was her love of sports. She previously practiced karate and formed a women’s soccer team. She is passionate about children and has organized games with girls living in the local host community.

Ghilslaine caught iACT's attention with her soccer skills, but it was her natural leadership qualities and focus that made her stand out during as the right choice for a RUSA coach. Ghilslaine dynamic young woman who can help mobilize others in her community.

Burundi

In partnership with Plan International Tanzania, iACT launched the Refugees United Soccer Academy-Burundi in refugee Camps Mtendeli and Nduta in northwest Tanzania for refugee youth ages 12 to 18.

In April 2015, political violence and insecurity forced approximately 400,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries. Currently, over 350,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees are residing in three refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. Approximately 78% of school-age refugee children are enrolled in primary school and only 3% of refugee children and youth are enrolled in secondary school. These children and youth are in need recreational activities that build resilience, strengthen social-emotional skills, and promote tolerance and equality.

 

FACTS

4

refugee men and women employed as Academy coaches

300

youth attending the Academy in each camp

193,000

refugee children and youth residing in the three camps in Tanzania

11

Academies operating across three countries


ACTION

Sponsor Play, Give Hope

A donation of just $10 sponsors one year of play for one refugee boy or girl, and helps i-ACT train and employ more coaches, deliver more soccer equipment, organize in-camp tournaments.

Sister Clubs: Team Partnerships

A full-year’s sponsorship of one DUSA child is only $10, and the impact of one soccer academy is far-reaching: one DUSA provides a safe environment for children in an entire refugee camp to play, learn soccer, and thrive.


IMPACT

PROFILE: Esther

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 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.

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.”

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