Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Supportin' Sudan!!

Our landlord’s son is an athlete. He had hoped to one day qualify for the Olympics in running. He ran with some of the best Kenyan runners and worked with Right To Play, an NGO here in Uganda. Although his dreams of making it to the Olympics were not fulfilled, he continues to pursue his passion, athletics. When he was working with RTP, he traveled into the refugee camps in Sudan to bring “the right to play” to the refugee kids. Some of those boys caught his eye with their talent for soccer and so Chris took it upon himself to find a way to get these boys to Uganda. He managed to get them a sponsorship to come receive education in Uganda; that was several years ago. The boys are grown now and still schooling here in Uganda while their family remains in Sudan. Last year Chris and a few of the older Sudanese boys formed the first official Sudanese soccer team in Uganda! The team is called Gatong, which means “hero” or "stay and fight". They are registered as an official team here in the Arua, Uganda district and have been playing matches for many months. They will continue to compete in hopes of winning placement in the upper division called the Super League. My hope is that this Sudan team wins every match all the way to the national championship which would qualify them to play in World Cup qualifiers. The vision and plan for this team is that once Sudan becomes a safer place, the Gatong team will in fact go back to Sudan and merge with the other Sudanese guys that are playing soccer in Sudan. Chris feels that the Sudanese should be able to compete in soccer just like the rest of the African countries regardless of instability. They should have a chance! Even if it means playing in Uganda until Sudan is at peace.
Chris has become one of our friends and we have begun to pray for him and his heart for the Sudan boys. He longs for kids to channel their time and extra energy in healthy ways like getting involved in sports. We support him in this as we know and see how quickly teens can get swept away into drinking, drugs, and laziness. We helped pay for some of the fees that were required to register them as an official team here in Uganda. You would be surprised at how expensive things can get especially when none of these boys have a means to support themselves, let alone pay for soccer fees. Soccer teams are required to have 2 sets of uniforms - one color for home games and one for away. They managed to gather enough support to purchase one set of uniforms but have not been able to get the 2nd set. They are the only team that does not currently have a 2nd set. Luckily, the other teams have always been gracious and changed their colors when needed. Now I get to do some bragging about our wonderful small group back home in Fort Collins Colorado, called Bridestone!! I shared with them about the Sudan soccer team we were getting to know and about their need for uniforms. For $100 bucks we could supply the team with a set of brand new uniforms!! Every week Bridestone gathers their extra bucks and collects it for the simple purpose of giving it away as God leads. After sharing about the team they all decided they wanted to buy them their uniforms!! What a fun thing to be a part of eh? Most of the Sudan boys have lived through fighting, have lost their homes and have scars on their legs to prove it. Now, they are receiving an education in Uganda and are an official soccer team doing what they love,… to play soccer!!



jena said...

Those are some TALL soccer players! I am so excited for them. What a great thing. Keith will be in your neck of the woods in two weeks!

Love y'all!

Brandi said...

Why can't you blog every day?

Loving that you have a Sudanese connection. My church is looking for a minstry / missionary to support that works in a refugee camp. . preferably in Sudan! Know anyone?

Love ya bunches,

Lisa G said...

How wonderful Katie, I love how Chris is using his passion for athletics and his talents + his love for these Sudanese boys to open such a great, life-giving opportunity. So cool!

Lisa G.