i-ACT To Present ONE STRONG KICK Fundraiser in Manhattan Beach, 5/12, to Benefit The 2012 Darfur United All-Refugee Soccer Team
i-ACT, a South Bay-based non-profit grassroots activist organization, will present a fundraising event and exhibit entitled, "ONE STRONG KICK," benefiting The 2012 Darfur United All-Refugee Soccer Team from Darfur, Sudan, which will compete for the coveted Nelson Mandela Trophy in the 2012 Viva World Cup to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan from June 5 – 9, 2012. The fundraising event will be held at a private residence in Manhattan Beach, CA on Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m.
Katie-Jay Scott Stauring, Director of Community Programming for i-ACT said: "i-ACT is spearheading the creation of the first soccer team to represent Darfur. The All-Refugee team will be coached by Mark Hodson of EVO Soccer Programs and Director of Coaching at Manhattan Beach Sand and Surf Soccer Club. Our goal is to raise funds to send the 15 refugee soccer players and five alternates to compete in the 2012 Viva World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan, so that these young men who escaped violence in Darfur as children will have the opportunity to represent their homeland before the world in this international soccer event."
Tracy McGrady, NBA Atlanta Hawks star guard, along with adidas, has stepped up to the plate to outfit the Darfur United Team. McGrady said: "It's a true honor to help Darfur United. When I visited the camps and saw what adversities they face everyday, it is a true joy to see the Darfuri people raise together and find hope and meaning from sport. Basketball gave me a way out of the challenges I faced as I was growing up and I know this team, the sport, and true competition will bring pride, teamwork, and dedication to the people of Darfur. I'm looking forward to seeing some amazing athletes out there and I'm proud to call them friends."
Admission to the fundraising event to be held at a private residence in Manhattan Beach, CA on Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. will be $25 per person and feature: food and drinks; live music played the acoustical duo of David Veerman and Crystal Kakebeen, as well as the band, Spledido; an art exhibit entitled, "A Journey Through Children's Memories of Darfur;" a Silent Auction; a Raffle; an Exclusive Preview of a Documentary Film Trailer of the Darfur United journey; a display of the official Darfur United Soccer Team uniform; an introduction via video of Darfur United Team Members and conversations with Darfur United's Coach, Mark Hodson, and i-ACT's Founder, Gabriel Stauring. Reservations for the event may be made by calling Katie-Jay Scott Stauring at 310-738-0285, or online at www.darfurunited.com. At the time reservations are confirmed, the event address will be given to attendees.
Silent Auction Items will include a signed ball and shirt from the Darfur United Team; a one of a kind quartz necklace from Darfur given by a refugee; Wine Tasting at Wine Styles; numerous Gift Cards from Hermosa Beach establishments; a $400 Package from South Coast Soccer City; and two of a kind canvas photos of Darfur United players, two name a few. Event Participants are also encouraged to sponsor a player online by visiting the official website for the soccer team at www.darfurunited.com.
Darfur United is an all-refugee soccer team made up of Darfuri refugees living in Eastern Chad. Sixty-one players from the 12 refugee camps that dot the Chad-Sudan border participated in try-outs for 15 spots on the team roster, and five additional alternates. The team selected will represent Darfur, the embattled region of Sudan, in the 2012 Viva World Cup in June, a soccer tournament for nation-less people and other groups not represented by FIFA, the international soccer federation.
Darfur United has been officially invited to the 2012 Viva World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan. Musa Aarun Sulieman, a refugee from Camp Goz Amer who tried out for the team and got the position of Central Midfielder on the team, said: "I am so happy this will be truth. It will be exactly Darfur United. It cannot only be on a shirt. It must be in the country, with Darfur United. I hope we will be united. I am very excited. I cannot express my feelings. We heard about this team six months ago, and today it's truth."
Members of the 2012 Darfur United Soccer Team include: Musa Aarun Sulieman (Central Midfielder); Youssef Mohammed Abdala (Center Back); Mubarak Haggar Duogom (Striker); Abdulbassit Omer Soulyman (Central Midfielder/Right Back); Sadam Hissen Dine (Left Midfielder); Nouradin Abdalah Mussa (Striker); Mohamed Omer Inagy (Central Midfielder); Abobaker Zakaria Ali (Midfielder); Mohamed Adam Abdalah (Midfielder); Mohamed Mahmoud Anour (Left Back); Abdulhamid Mohamed Gum (Goalkeeper); Mubarek Khamis Ahmed (Central Defender/Holding Midfielder); Mubarag Abdelah Ahmed (Right Midfielder/Right Forward); Abdelah Sulieman Mohamed (Left Back/Left Midfielder); and Issa Ahmed Abdelah (Defender/Holding Midfielder).
Coach Mark Hodson said: "The level of talent is impressive, especially considering the facilities and resources available to The Players. For me the greatest prize from this mission will be to see the team step out onto the field wearing their Darfur United uniform. To get 20 refugees from 12 different camps to one location is a feat that those not in the know, will never understand how difficult this is to accomplish. From that, the selection and training process has provided moments of joy and euphoria that the team and volunteers will forever share. This group of players has suffered incredible sadness and hardship. There is no sign that their situation is going to improve any time soon, but they still carry a tremendous pride and sense of responsibility and a hope, that what they are doing will create a new path and joy for the people of Darfur."
The story of Darfur United is being told as a 'living documentary.' A feature-length documentary is planned to encapsulate the full journey of the team's goal to reach the 2012 Viva World Cup under the guidance of advisor Paul Freedman, the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy Award nominated filmmaker ("Sand and Sorrow," "Time Machine: Rwanda – Do Scars Ever Fade?"). Funds are being raised through private donations, soccer clubs, large-scale donors and filmmaking grants. Darfur United is 100% community supported. To date over $37,000 has been raised from individuals to help pay for this trip and for supplies. Presently community and school groups from across the country are organizing fundraising events for the team.
In late May 2012, the i-ACT team will travel from Chad to Iraqi Kurdistan for the tournament. Most players are in their late teens or early twenties, making them approximately 10-years-old when they escaped the violence in Darfur. They have spent all of their adult lives as refugees. Stauring says, "They have had nothing positive to celebrate and have been losing hope of any future beyond the confines of the refugee camp. This team means so much more to them than just a game of football. It gives all refugees something to celebrate, and it gives them a connection to the outside world."