In mid-2014, we noticed a significant increase in the number of teenage boys being abducted into the rebel army or, feeling powerless against this inevitability, choosing to join the army in order to protect their families from threats. We began Leadership League, a simple soccer league, in hopes of providing the boys a healthy outlet, as well as a community where they could learn to stick together and gain healthy vision for their futures. The response was immediate, with sixty young men between the ages of ten and twenty-four signing up.
Our coaching aims to teach and model what it means to be an honest leader and play on the field is accompanied by group counseling. Here our Storytelling Movement has grown wings, and sparked a healing among dozens of young men as they have been empowered to speak out about the injustices they have suffered. Both on the field and off, these young men are learning to live lives of peace, taking hold of their futures without being backed into the corner of war.
Today, the boys in the Leadership League have become a symbol of unity around the village. Having grown beyond a soccer league, the program now extends opportunity to these young men to earn a GED, and, beginning in the fall of 2015, vocational programs, offering the hope of opportunities and good jobs in adult life.