UPDATE: Refugee Soccer League Crisis

Quick update and deep thanks are in order for the Adult Refugee Soccer League Crisis situation. Click here for original post.

The season only has about 6 weeks left and the clock is ticking to get 100+ adult refugee men back on the soccer field. They LOVE to play soccer and their inability to pay the fees the league has to charge shouldn’t be a reason to keep them from receiving the benefits of physical activity and teamwork.

Providing just $500/team is such an impactful way to show these young men that the community at large values and supports them.

And now amidst the racially tense times in which we live what could be more important, or easier?! I truly hope you and/or your company will find a way to step up and send a clear message.

The GREAT news is that we’ve raised $500 from TWO companies based in Indiana, NOT Utah. Huge shoutout to great friends of refugees Matt MacBeth, CEO of Pi Lab, the company that brought Edwin the Duck to life.

And to my man, Ted Murphy, a smart, big-hearted entrepreneur running his own branding startup, Innerfront.

 

Check out their companies and at least give them a digital fist bump for supporting refugees 1,500 miles away from them.

Now, it’s time for Utah to support refugees in our own backyard. These are our refugees. Our neighbors. Our friends!

Providing just $500/team is a small price to support those who have already been through so much and often wonder how they will make their lives better in the USA. We can help.

Let’s go UTAH!

Somali Stars matches versus Cottonwood FC

We are delighted to announce TWO friendly matches for the Somali Stars this week! Cottonwood FC of Salt Lake City is stepping up to help us connect the refugee community with the mainstream community through soccer. We are excited to see where this new relationship goes.

Click their logo below for more details about Cottonwood FC.

Check out these two links for event details:

If you know any other clubs interested in playing and working to grow RefugeeSoccer please contact Nik at nik@refugeesoccer.com

Refugee Soccer League Crisis

Email me with your pledge or simply make your donation here TODAY.

The adult refugee soccer league is in crisis. Due to funding cuts by the State the league has gone from 16 teams to 10 teams this season.

The State funds were always used to help subsidize the teams’ portion of the costs to run the league: primarily referees and fields. The loss of that $3,000 has removed a critical funding source for 6 teams. This means that more than 1/3 of the teams, 100+ young men!, have lost the structure and positive activity that Refugee Soccer provides.

Sunday, I interviewed* the League President, Newton Gborway from Liberia, to find out more and discuss how we can help. Here are the key clips from our discussion:

The Problem

The 6 teams that simply can’t afford to play without your help are:

  1. Sky (Asia)
  2. Iraq 1
  3. Mesopotamia (Iraq 2)
  4. KCU (Asia)
  5. Eritrea
  6. Sunnyvale (multiple)

This means that only the 10 teams who can afford the leagues fees without government assistance can play. Put another way, the 6 teams that can’t afford it are excluded from the benefits of the league. This is unacceptable.

The Inequity

What are the benefits of playing refugee soccer?

Benefits to Refugees

Benefits to Community

What do refugees really want? Same thing as you and I!

Stability?

So, what is the answer?

The Solution

 

Will you sponsor a team? For $500 you or your company can help put a team back onto the field NOW. Super simple to help TODAY:

  1. Decide to sponsor one (or more) team.
  2. Make donation (increments of $500) directly to BRIDGES at http://paypal.me/bridgestoamerica
  3. You may also make pledge by emailing me at adam@bridgestoamerica.org and then mail a check.
  4. If you want to sponsor a specific team above either add a note when you make online donation OR email me the team name from the list and you will get credit for the support of that specific team.

In return for your support we will gladly put your logo or name on our website and explore any other promotional effort you propose.

Email me with your pledge or simply make your donation here TODAY.

The return on the $3,000 donation is just too great to not make this happen TODAY. Let’s go!

*To watch the entire interview click below.

Podcast: People You Should Know

Our Founder and Executive Director, Adam Miles, was recently interviewed by and up-and-coming podcast called: People You Should Know.

The interview was wide-ranging and Adam tackled multiple issues fundamental to our mission at BRIDGES. If you prefer only the podcast you can get it here.

Refugee Player to be a Police Officer

One of the first refugee soccer players who signed up on the Refugee Soccer platform was Prince Manneh. A 20 year-old goalkeeper from Liberia.

Price and I sat down recently and he shared with me his journey as a refugee to the USA and his remarkable quest to become a police officer by year-end.

We recorded our conversation and I was honored to hear directly from him his story and his motivations to give back to a country who, he says, has given him and his family so much.

I am impressed with this young man and very optimistic about the possibility of him becoming one of the few black officers on the Salt Lake City police force and probably one of the only, if not the first ever, refugee officer.

We talk a little about race relations in this country and I think given the current environment in the US Prince’s story and character mean so much. I hope you enjoy the video.

By the way, Prince needs some help in becoming a US citizen so he can apply and attend the Police Academy. If you can donate anything at all please visit our PayPal page and give what you can. Leave a memo of encouragement for Prince and to be sure we allocate your donation for his benefit.

Thanks!

Holiday Charity for Refugee Families

December 21, 2016-

Today was an exciting day for two refugee soccer families and numerous employees of one of our sponsors, University of Utah Health Plans.

U Health Plans approached us wanting to help two refugee families for the holidays this year. With the great help of both our BRIDGES Refugee Outreach Coordinator, Karinne Kehl and the coaches of the Somali Stars we identified two families in extreme need this season.

 

An abundance of gifts and necessities were generously donated by the employees of the U Health Plans and delivered by the BRIDGES team alongside the Somali Stars’ coaches. The two families were very grateful at the generosity and concern showed for them.

 

Here’s a little background on the families:

Osman Family-Somalia

12 members of this family live in a 3-bedroom apartment in South Salt Lake since 2015. The mother was widowed in 2007 when the father and eldest son were slaughtered in front of the family in the war.

The mother expressed her deep gratitude for the safety and opportunities they all experience living in the United States.

The family is Muslim and don’t celebrate Christmas but this year they certainly felt the spirit and unity of the holiday season

Singoma Family-Congo

A family of 5 from the Congo via refugee camps in Tanzania with the 70 year old grandmother as the caretaker. Both parents died back in the Congo years ago but the family works hard and does the best they can here in the USA.

The family wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and is so thankful for the love shown to them this year!

Slow and Steady

We had another great youth refugee soccer match last week in Sandy, Utah.

It was a tough match for the Somali Stars as the Blue Knights handled the speed and footwork of the Stars very well and won the friendly match 5-3. Additionally, the Stars didn’t seem to play as cohesively as they did in their first match.

But, no matter, the point is not the score of these games. The point is to bring people of different backgrounds together and positively engage each other and focus on commonalities and inclusion. This picture is a strong indicator that we are doing just that…and we will keep doing it!

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I am happy to share with you more information about the players that make up the Somali Stars. When you click the link here you will be able to read the stories of these players: where they came from and where they want to go. Inspiring stuff! These stories were told to a group of mainstream high school volunteers who took time out of their day recently to interview the players.

This team still needs money to get their uniforms. We need about $500 more and anything will help. Donate here and help get these boys properly equipped to keep pushing forward as an organized team and engaging the mainstream schools, teams, and companies. (The red jerseys in the picture belong to an adult league team that has generously loaned them temporarily.)

Engagement Has Begun!

Last Thursday, October 20, 2016 we officially executed our first event to engage the refugee and mainstream youth right here in Salt Lake City! I got emotional at times (that’s how I roll) to witness simultaneously the differences and the commonalities of all the boys on that field. It was awesome!

I want to thank the boys, coaches, and parents of the Sparta Premier 06 DKJ team.  I am so impressed with these young men who didn’t just show up to play a game. They showed up to start a movement to engage with these refugee young men and bring our communities together.

The match was intense at times, clearly challenging and probably a little frustrating at times but these Sparta players handled themselves with maturity, class and sportsmanship and I really appreciate that. Also, big thanks to Judge Memorial High School for use of their excellent field, and the amazing weather they provided. 😉

img_5949
Opening handshakes.
You can check out more pictures of the match here.
Now what? Here’s what:
Join the Movement as a Mainstream Team-
In order to maximize the effort of Refugee Soccer we are engaging the mainstream soccer community to formally register with us as a supporting team. Play against and engage refugee teams like the Somali Stars (more refugee teams being recruited as we speak).
You can learn more at this link:
Soccer Safari to Nigeria-
One of the absolute highlights of my life, and that of my daughter/co-founder and her teammates, was a soccer safari we took to Nigeria two+ years ago. We even wrote a book about it:
I am organizing a trip for Q1 of 2017 (tried to do it sooner but sanity talked me out of it) to take a group of young soccer players and a few adult helpers to Nigeria to play soccer and deliver humanitarian aid. You can learn more here:
Jersey Donations for Somali Stars
The Sparta players will tell you that the Somali Stars are a legit team. Part of bringing this team, and the ones that will follow, into the mainstream, where the best opportunities are, is treating them as a legitimate team. Uniforms are key part of doing that. We are raising funds to provide them with jerseys. We are about half way there and only need about $400 more to get them suited up properly. (The boys wore borrowed uniforms from a refugee adult team.)
There is an amazing young woman here in SLC who is helping these boys. She simply wants to help and stepped up big. Check out her fundraising campaign here. You can always make a tax-deductible donation to our parent company, Bridges To America here: www.paypal.me/bridgestoamerica
We are at a pivotal stage for Refugee Soccer and this match last week took us to a new level of possibilities. There is momentum building and I look forward to any and all ways you would like to be involved to keep it going. There is so much impact to make and the time is now. Email me: adam@bridgestoamerica.org
LET’S GO!
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The Somali Stars warming up.

The Risks & Price of a Better Life

With the social impact work I do and the things I have seen in Africa, and briefly in South America, I sometimes feel a sense of guilt about my life in America. Not guilty for being an American, but rather how, given my life of privilege, I simply cannot “get” or understand how rough so many other people have it. I ran across an article in one of my favorite magazines, Outside Magazine, one of the very few I make time to read occasionally. Hard to have much time to read when you are trying to positively impact the world, right?

That said, this article is an absolutely eye-opening look into what hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of ordinary people simply looking for a “better life” (which often means simply not being killed) will do to have it. According to the UN there are some 65 million people that have been forced from their homes around the world. Worst crisis ever and gives a new meaning to the term “homeless.”

Turns out the courageous writer of the article made this journey into a documentary for an Australian news program. I don’t have much time for watching videos but THIS is one of the most compelling videos I’ve ever watched. The raw human drama of the extraordinary efforts made by 20 “migrants” or “refugee hopefuls” is absolutely riveting, exciting, and heart-breaking all at once. The personification of the innate human desire we ALL have to be safe, to be productive, to be happy, is beautifully encapsulated in this 25 minute documentary. Click to watch the video here.

My team and I will use this film to help always remember the journey so many refugees and immigrants make to get here to the USA. They are here now and we will help them make the most of their lives here, one person at a time.

I know that all Americans, indeed all residents of the developed world, who maybe like me, simply can’t appreciate the freedoms and comforts that come so easily simply by virtue of having the “right” passport, will benefit from hearing and learning from the absolute guts and deep determination displayed by these brave migrants. Guts and determination are two characteristics you can never have too much of.

I love the final few paragraphs of the story because they so eloquently capture the situation and beautifully express my feelings on the topic as well:

Some ugly myths have taken root in the United States that these same people are predisposed to be criminals, a dormant threat to national security and gathering drag on our economy. In a country built by migrants, currents of nativism and xenophobia are on the rise, with bluster of walls going up and mass deportations. And somehow people of all stripes keep angling for our faraway borders with their dreams intact, risks and distances be damned. 

Inevitably, through sheer force of will and a lot of good luck, some of the ones stranded in Turbo will make it to Panama and on to the United States. Maybe they’ll be spared the onerous jungle crossing; maybe they will get a berth on an airlift; or maybe they are bushwhacking a new route through the Darién Gap at this very moment, their feet and gazes in lockstep forward against the inertia of fear and cynicism, driven by visions of something better. 

They are our past, present, and future. And they are worthy.

Watch the video and then work with us somehow to make the world better by helping those you can help. Everyone can help someone.

Lets’ go!