A film by Paolo Casalis
OUT IN 2018
To break the indifference on Darfur humanitarian crisis, an enterprising activist must create an all-refugee national football team and compete in the World Cup.
In 2005 Gabriel Stauring, a young and enthusiast activist from California, decides to create an N.G.O. and move to Africa - always with a camera in his hand - to help the thousands of refugees from Darfur escaping from a cruel, dramatic civil war in Sudan.
Eight years after, Gabriel's enthusiasm is far less: he's risking his life and facing outstanding obstacles, but nobody is any longer interested in his mission.
What could he do, to capture the world's attention?
In 2012, he creates "Darfur United", a soccer team made of young Darfuri refugees living in the camps of Chad, representing an unexisting state.
"These are not refugees", Gabriel provokes, "don't look at them as refugees, this is just football".
Was it a cinic decision? A way to raise help by sweetening or partially hiding a hard reality?
For sure, it worked. For the first time, people and media give attention to them.
Since then, Gabriel has followed the team with his camera, from the tryouts to the very first trainings, to the World Cup. No, not the prestigious FIFA one, but tournaments for unrecognized nations and ethnic groups: Occitania, Kurdistan, Tamil... and Darfur.
Through exclusive access to 500 hours of video footage directly filmed by Gabriel and the other film's characters, Not Just Football follows the vicissitudes of "Darfur United" team and its players. They've never been outside the refugee camps and everything for them is a real adventure, even just taking an escalator, looking at the shops' windows or playing on grass.
The tournament goes on and the team is happy and United, but this can't last forever.
Moubark and Ismail, who were part of the team since the beginning, are among the nine players who escaped during a tournament in Sweden.
Today they're still living there, trying to complete a long and complex path, from refugees to citizens, while Gabriel- who now is 52 years old - has to accept this "defeat" to continue his efforts to help through football.