RUFC’s fourth annual soccer camp which concluded last week was another wonderful success. As always, we provided soccer training, health education, healthy meals, and a health clinic on the final day. We once again reached over 1,000 youth throughout Oyam District. We endured very long bus rides in the mud (got stuck a few times) to ensure that we reached distant communities that are often neglected by national and international programming.
This year we were proud to introduce our partners, Football for Good, to some incredible young talent in the communities where we work. Football for Good travels throughout Uganda seeking talented young footballers and recruits them to join their top of the line academy based in Gulu – a city not far from Oyam. The academy represents an incredible improvement in living quarters and education for many of these young athletes, as well as a shot to become a professional soccer player – a dream for so many young Ugandan youth. Just this month one of their older players signed with a professional team in Spain. We were able to watch the under 13 team play against the U18 finalists in our annual RUFC tournament. The level of play and professionalism that the Football for Good kids showed was admirable and comparable to the most elite teams I have encountered in my own soccer career. They were truly a pleasure to watch – beautiful passing and finishes (and awesome celebrations as seen in the second video below).
Excitingly, during this year’s camp the Football for Good coaches scouted a player to join this same under 13 team. Daniel was a participant in our camp who caught the attention of the coaches with his superb skills and attitude. He was named the camp MVP and was invited for a trial run at the academy. This was thrilling news for us, but it was especially important for Daniel’s community in Northern Uganda. When the coaches announced their decision, the entire community cheered and celebrated along with Daniel and his family (video below). Daniel’s mother hugged me tearfully. Hopefully Daniel will prove that anything is possible when given a chance to shine and I hope Daniel can become an inspiration for all the talented, smart, and athletic individuals in the community.
It’s often hard to communicate the power of RUFC’s camp to supporters back home and to justify why we need to continue to fundraise and mobilize resources to reach more youth. I hope that Daniel’s story can help illustrate what we mean to ‘level the field’ and how we aim to expand opportunities for all youth. We’ve got a long way to go, but I think it is a wonderful thing knowing that we have set one child up for future success. Daniel – the entire RUFC team is rooting for you and can’t wait to see how far you go!
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.