On an early November morning in Adjumani, a chorus of voices breaks the tense silence anticipating the beginning of the football tournament. The clay football pitch is populated with green and orange shirts to differentiate the teams. At the referee’s whistle, boys and girls run towards the ball, while elders, women, men, and JRS staff surround them cheering.
The football tournament is part of the activities to commemorate JRS Uganda’s 30 years of service in the country. Organised by JRS teams on the ground, the tournament involved everyone, women, men, boys, and girls from the communities we serve.
“I was touched by several moments during this day. Young Dinka girls are not usually allowed by the community to play football. However, on this occasion girls and boys shared the football pitch. A young woman during the games not only kicked the ball but also took care of her child. When she cried, she would run to the line and feed her, and then run back to her place. Her determination is truly inspiring,” said Fr. Lasantha, JRS Adjumani pastoral services coordinator.
Since June, the young leaders have been preparing their teams, coaching youth and children. Parents and elders from the communities also participated enthusiastically, cheering on the teams and fostering a sense of unity, both on sunny and rainy days.
“This special programme has three main objectives: to bring the various communities together, to nurture the leadership of young people in organising, planning and leading their teams, to promote the love of football as a game that draws us closer to each other,” commented Fr. Lasantha.
He concluded, “I am deeply grateful for the participation of the community in the tournament, we had the chance to spend time together with the JRS staff and the people we serve. We did not celebrate 30 years of forced displacement of our refugee brothers and sisters, but we expressed our gratitude for each other’s accompaniment and support as a community over these years. While JRS hopes that there will be no need to commemorate the 31st year because no one will be forced to leave their homes anymore, we know that we will continue to walk with the refugees if this does not happen.”