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402 Development Academy

Refugee Program

402 Development Academy is excited to bring the best club soccer experience to those who cannot afford it. Lincoln plays a significant role in American refugee resettlement, which means we're home to many refugee children who live to play soccer but don't have access to the game. In most cases, these children can't even find a public field to play on! The Refugee Support Project will help refugee players build a true home in Lincoln. 402 DA is bringing the best coaches together to offer the best soccer experience for all soccer players in Lincoln. 

Led by Kenan Sahuric and Waed Ali, who are refugees themselves, 402 DA will sponsor 50 refugee players during our first year. These 50 players will have the opportunity to experience club soccer and find themselves a soccer home. Each week, coaches will lead players in mindfulness exercises, warm-ups, skills and drills activities, scrimmages, and team-building exercises. Ultimately, our goal is to provide a safe home for refugees to learn soccer, lead, play and grow through the game they love.

By building an active and organized soccer program, local refugees can find an escape and a place of community. Very few things can help kids find focus the way soccer can. The Refugee Support Project aims to make a long-term impact in the Lincoln community. Work Ethic alone should determine whether any player reaches their full potential. Fees should not keep kids on the sidelines. Every kid should have access to soccer facilities. This is what we're working towards.

If you want to learn more about the Refugee Support Project, or know of any opportunities that can help our mission, please contact us! 

Click here to donate to the Refugee Support Project!


Define "refugee". Refugees are forced to leave their home countries because of war, environmental disasters, political persecution and/or religious or ethnic intolerance. They come to the United States with a special immigration status that gives them automatic admission into the country and helps them connect with family members who are already in the country. This status also provides them with a "green card" or permit to work. Refugees are invited to live in the United States to start a new life. 

What is the role of sport in refugee resettlement? There is no doubt that well-managed teams offer numerous health benefits, both physical and mental. Studies also increasingly point to the social benefits of sport, noting that increased community-wide participation reduces crime and anti-social behavior while building social cohesion. Playing a familiar game in a new place can play an important healing role and provide a sense of purpose for young people recovering from the traumas of their experience. In addition, the social interaction of sport establishes a forum for non-English speakers to learn and practice the English language.

Why soccer? Soccer is undeniably the most popular, most played sport in the world. People around the world live the sport of soccer like a religion. It can be adapted, requiring little equipment. Many people around the world play barefooted. It is one of the oldest sports still played today, dating back to 200 BC in the UK. 210 nations attempted qualification for the 2018 World Cup; fewer countries belong to the United Nations. Soccer crosses every national divide and holds as the universal language of sport. The rules of soccer are finite, so the soccer field creates a grand place for communication between experienced refugee players and experienced American players.

What's in it for Lincoln? One of the key community benefits for sporting activity is it's ability to break down cultural barriers between different ethnic and language groups in the community. Soccer can assist in building links and trust bother within refugee communities, and between refugees and the broader community, thereby acting as an entry point for the wider participation of refugees in community life in both practical and symbolic ways. 

There are few countries in the world where sport forms such a pervasive and influential aspect of culture and society as it does in the United States. Americans' understanding of themselves and others is intertwined in a complex and enduring way with sport. Given this profound influence on American culture and identity, sport in our context offers opportunities to break down barriers and encourage participation in a way that other areas of our society struggle to match.

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