i Play Soccer UNITED

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i Play Soccer UNITED

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

i Play Soccer United (SU) bridges continents, cultures, and minds, in an effort to create mutually enriching experiences for youth. From the beaches of Southern California to the sands of the Darfuri Sahara, youth use soccer as a vehicle for growth, education, friendship, and most importantly, fun.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In twelve refugee camps—dotting the Darfur, Sudan and Chad border—there are hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women and children, who have fled the destruction of their villages, seen family members killed, and endured horrors beyond imagination. The children survivors, and the many more who were born in the camps, lack the basic support in dealing with the deep trauma associated with the conflict that presently surrounds them. Being in a conflict zone, and due to limited resources, the heroic efforts of the United Nations Refugee Agency and other international organizations focus mainly on providing basic survival services and education. A soccer ball to a Darfuri refugee consists of old rags and plastic tied with string and made into a round bundle. A field is a flat, sandy space cleared of rocks that might injure their bare feet. A pre-game meal, well, a meal is not always there.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

i Play SU is a collaboration between i-ACT, a group experienced in refugee support and relationship building efforts, and Manhattan Beach (MB) Sand and Surf Soccer Club, an organization experienced in using the game of soccer as a tool to promote community and the development of well-rounded young men and women. Starting one camp at a time, and modeled after the positive and supportive community environment of MB Sand and Surf, i Play SU will establish the foundation needed for a soccer club system in the camps. i Play SU will provide uniforms, soccer balls, training for coaches, and the support necessary for the development of league play. i-ACT uses state of the art technology to facilitate long distance friendships between players, coaches, and the community. Boys and girls from MB Sand and Surf will interact with i Play SU children in the camps through multi-media and the Internet, seeing each other play and sharing their daily lives. The kids in California will share in this enriching experience as each group grows through the game of soccer.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

i-ACT has been developing deep relationships with Darfur refugee communities and groups based in the United States since 2005. In our eight visits we have used video messages, same-day webcasting from remote camps, blogging, photography and live video exchange to build mutually enriching relationships. We have connected 28 communities with a family in the camps through our Tent-to-Tent project. We are currently a partner of the Darfur Dream Team Sister School Program, a program that has connected more than 350 schools in the United States with schools in the 12 Darfur refugee camps in Chad. Our i-ACT program returns to the same refugee camps every year, and our relationship with the refugees has greatly impacted their hope for an education and a future. MB Sand and Surf is a successful soccer club founded upon the principles of strength-based coaching and player development. It began with one team in 2005 and has grown to 16 teams. Locally, it has touched the lives of hundreds of players and their families, and is ready to make a global impact.
About You
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name





, CA

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Phone


Organization Address

1732 Aviation Blvd #138 Redondo Beach CA 90278

Organization Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, XX

Do you have a patent for this idea?


i-ACT will use previously established relationships with refugees leaders, schools, and aid organizations to initiate i Play SU in one of the 12 camps. Four representatives from i-ACT and MB Sand and Surf community will visit the camp to deliver equipment and provide initial coach and player clinics. The trip will also introduce the MC Sand and Surf community and Darfuris through same-day web-casting, blogging, and live video exchanges. Technology kits will also be left in the camps so the players, coaches, and families can continue to play, exchange, and grow. Ongoing interaction, equipment and logistical support, and visits to the refugee camps will be essential for program success and expansion.


Children begin to play soccer because it provides emotional and physical development necessary for growth. Soccer, like many team sports, gives individuals a time to decompress, to learn from their peers, and to develop leadership skills and self-esteem, both on and off the field. Whether in Darfur or California, these are the essential by-products of an individual engaged in a community sport. i Play SU offers players, coaches, and family members an opportunity to not only play soccer, but to also be part of a process that bridges cultural gaps and breaks down global barriers so that we become one united community through soccer. The ability to remain in contact through video, photos, and messages empowers participants to engage with one another beyond the sport and to share their everyday lives.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

In order to be successful, i Play SU will need long-term support from MB Sand and Surf, coordination by i-ACT, and interaction with the United Nations Refugee Agency in the camps. Year One: In order to support five-team leagues in three camps, i-ACT and MB Sand and Surf must visit refugee camps at least twice to deliver equipment (both soccer and tech) to host coach and player clinics. Darfur and MB Sand and Surf communities can become acquainted online. Funding and in-kind needs include: initial tech and soccer equipment, program coordination, trip expenses, and ongoing satellite transfer. By Year two, all teams at MB Sand and Surf will be introduced to i Play Soccer United and it will become their annual community initiative. The program will expand to three more camps through two or three trips to the camps by different coaches from Year one. The participation will be sustained through new equipment, continued visits to the field, and the expansion of coach and player clinics. A full-time i-ACT team member that works closely with MB Sand and Soccer will need to hired. By Year three, we will evaluate the needs of the first six leagues, expanding where it is necessary. At this time, the program will need to expand sponsorship support to include businesses in the Manhattan Beach and South Bay area and will need to have at least one annual fundraiser. If the resources are available, the program will expand to support leagues in all 12 refugee camps. In order to continue to be successful, the program must replace soccer and tech equipment that has depreciated.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

i-ACT has personal relationships with refugees, the MB Sand and Surf club, and UN aid workers, so many of the initial challenges will be easy to overcome. One of the biggest challenges we face with i Play SU is working in a remote location that is virtually disconnected from the rest of the world and where violence continues today. The United Nations Refugee Agency and other aid groups are sometimes unable to reach the camps because of conflict, rain, or lack of sufficient staffing. This makes the technology kits, CommKit, and funding for satellite transfer imperative to the success of the program. Refugees must be able to interact with i Play SU participants on an ongoing basis. The United Nations Refugee Agency, with whom i-ACT has a relationship with, must also help guide the program when the i-ACT team is not on the ground. Aid workers are rotated out of their positions every one and half to two years, making i-ACT trips to the camps necessary to develop relationships with new aid workers and provide consistent support to the league(s). During the creation of the leagues, i-ACT must ensure that youth under 14 only participate in the program. Many times, the older youth benefit from additional resources before younger refugees are able to participate. During our initial trip, i-ACT must work with the schools and tribal leaders to ensure that leagues are developed, coaching clinics are provided, and that players and coaches are trained on the CommKit before returning to the United States.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

In what country?

, XX

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.


How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The UN Refugee Agency (an NGO) oversees all programs and operations in refugee camps in Chad, and globally. Their help in coordinating i Play SU programs is integral to the success of the leagues. i-ACT has worked with UN aid workers on previous programs during which they provided an essential connection and perspective on the camp. Without the support of the UN, this program would not be possible. Manhattan Beach Sand and Surf Soccer Club (a US-based non-profit) provides the essential connection to a community in the US. This relationship, between players, and their families, and coaches creates a program that goes beyond the soccer field and explores the commonalities and differences of people living in disparate environments. This long distance relationship builds a new global community, based on the love of soccer, that breaks down cultural barriers and connects the next generation of leaders in both the US and Africa.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Build and sustain support for i Play Soccer United with every family who becomes part of the MB Sand and Surf Soccer Club. We will begin with one or two soccer teams from MB and the creation of one soccer league in a refugee camp. Buy-in and ownership from the parents of this first team will be imperative to developing a long term, club-wide relationship with the leagues in the camp. Each year MB Sand and Surf chooses one community initiative to involve the entire club in. If we can successfully mobilize and empower the first two teams, players and parents, then i Play SU will likely be next year’s club-wide initiative.
2. Provide strong program coordination in both the US and the refugee camps, in conjunction with the UN Refugee Agency. The United Nations staff oversees the coordination of every Darfur refugee camp in Chad. Their staff’s participation and oversight will be necessary for the success of the program. i-ACT has been traveling to the camps longer than most aid workers have been on the ground, and we are able to maintain relationships with new and old staff members. This relationship and partnership is imperative to the continuity of the program.
3. Develop relationships with businesses and other supporters who are interested in sponsoring i Play SU. To expand the league and program beyond the first camp, we will need to utilize the local MB and soccer community to provide on going funds and equipment donations.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Gabriel Stauring, co-founder and Director of i-ACT, has been to the refugee camps eight times since 2005. He is committed to creating personal relationships between those who have been affected by genocide and mass atrocities and those who are able to advocate and take action to support those who need it most. Since his first trip, Gabriel played soccer with balls of rags and alongside twenty, sometimes, thirty kids thirsty for fun and attention. Katie-Jay Scott, Director of Community Programming, played Division I college soccer in the United States, and knows first hand how soccer can help individuals address personal trauma and anger. She has visited the refugee camps four times, each time bringing a soccer ball to play with and leave for the kids. Gabriel’s son recently was accepted as a team member for the Boys U-9 MB Sand and Surf Soccer Club. Leaning about the clubs commitment to community and strength-based coaching inspired the idea of connecting the soccer players in CA with the youth of Darfur. After discovering what Gabriel had dedicated his life to, the MB soccer coaches offered jerseys and t-shirts for i-ACT to take to the refugee camps. Through initial conversations and a few details about i-ACT trips, the coaches became interested in going to the refugee camps to deliver the equipment and meet the people. On i-ACT’s last trip to the refugee camp, one aid worker said, if she could ask for anything for the children in the camps, it would be soccer balls. Keeping these words close to his heart, when Gabriel met with MB Sand and Surf coaches eager to be involved, he instantly knew a mutually enriching relationship that brought soccer to the camps and changed the lives of youth in CA was possible.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

On the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, Gabriel Stauring and his daughter, Noemi, were listening to an NPR special report on the 1994 horrors that killed more than 800,000 people. During ongoing conversations with Noemi, he committed to acting then and in the future. He soon started hearing about Darfur. Out of a sense of personal responsibility and guilt for not acting during Rwanda, Gabriel began acting and sent a few emails to friends and families about Darfur. Each day he asked himself, what more can I do? Through action campaigns, he began to build a community working to end genocide. Soon after, he co-founded Stop Genocide Now (SGN) which seeks to change the way the world responds to genocide by putting a face to the numbers of dead, dying and displaced. SGN is a grassroots community dedicated to working to protect populations in grave danger of violence, death and displacement resulting from genocide. Through active education, advocacy and policy change SGN resolves to change the way the world responds to genocide. SGN is currently focused on creating awareness and action to stop the genocide in Darfur and to deal appropriately with its aftermath. All of our projects focus on and utilize the strength and power of grassroots connectivity. With his project i-ACT, Gabriel has been to the Darfur refugee camps in Chad eight times since 2005. i-ACT seeks to empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity. Gabriel leads a global team committed to creating mutually enriching relationships between those in danger and those willing and able to act, fostering a new culture of participation. When not in the refugee camps, Gabriel travels across the country to schools, universities and communities telling the stories from Darfur. i-ACT and SGN have initiated educational programs, such as Camp Darfur, an interactive mock refugee camp, and developed advocacy and action campaigns that include two 100-Day Fast for Darfur, 100,000 postcards to legislators, Darfur Freedom Summer Vigils, Darfur Fast for Life, Sudan Sham Elections Campaign, and iOnSudan.net. Gabriel continues to develop innovative projects, like i Play Soccer United, in order to bridge cultural gaps and inspire a culture of participation.

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