News / Africa

Americans Support Darfur Refugee Soccer Team

Americans Support Darfur Refugee Soccer Teami
|| 0:00:00
X
Mike O'Sullivan
May 22, 2012 10:22 PM
Football players from the Darfur region of Sudan plan to compete in the VIVA Cup, an international competition that will begin in Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, on June 4. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, supporters of the all-refugee team, Darfur United, have been working from California to make it happen.

Americans Support Darfur Refugee Soccer Team

Mike O'Sullivan
LOS ANGELES - Football players from the Darfur region of Sudan plan to compete in the VIVA Cup, an international competition that will begin in Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, on June 4. Supporters of the all-refugee team, Darfur United, have been working from California to make it happen.

"Darfur United draws its players from 12 refugee camps in Chad -- where it was created and is still based."  The players have had only weeks to get into shape for the "VIVA Cup," a competition for nations and groups not affiliated with the International Football Federation, FIFA.  But their British-born coach Mark Hodson, who lives in California, says he has a high opinion of their talent.

“Technically, pretty strong.  They can do a lot of things with the ball.  Physically, I was really impressed.  I was surprised how big and strong they were and really athletic,” Hodson said.

As the team gets into shape in Chad, supporters in suburban Los Angeles are raising funds to pay for the trip to the Kurdish region of Iraq.

The LA Galaxy professional soccer team and its star British player David Beckham donated jerseys for a charity auction, and the players in Chad signed a commemorative ball.  

The refugees fled violence in their country after civil war broke out in 2003.

Gabriel Stauring, founder the charity i-ACT, for “interactive activism,” spearheaded the drive to create the soccer team.

“Every single one of our players has the story of having their village attacked, of seeing family and friends being killed, mothers, sisters being raped in front of them, and then having to walk across the desert to survive and make it to one of these camps,” Stauring said.

Stauring says soccer has been an important diversion for the refugees.

“They just make balls out of anything.  So some socks or some rubber that they put together, and they play,” Stauring said.

Despite their soccer skills, the refugee athletes will face physical as well as competitive challenges in the VIVA Cup, says physical therapist Alexandra Nuttall-Smith.

“Gastrointestinal problems, stomach upsets, because they have not traveled outside the country.  This is an issue for any athlete traveling internationally.  Another thing I'm concerned about is blisters,” Nuttall-Smith said.

Nevertheless the team's supporters say that taking part in the competition is itself an accomplishment, one that will draw attention to the plight of the refugees.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid