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Last weekend, the Richmond Sudanese-American community hosted a cultural festival and soccer tournament over the weekend at Henrico County’s Dorey Park. Roughly 800 Sudanese-Americans came from 10 states. (Photo by Tina Griego)
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The festival was a cultural celebration featuring a soccer tournament, fellowship among refugees and food (like "chicken sauce," a delicious, curry-type of poultry dish). (Photo by Tina Griego)
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Hanging out with Sudanese-Americans has many benefits. Chicken sauce is one of them. Alright, that’s not its authentic name, but it’s what the lady who ordered me to eat first and ask questions later called it. A curry of some sort. Chicken was involved. It was fantastic.
This week’s Sunday story was about refugees resettled in the Richmond area and the challenge of starting again. Among its many missions, Commonwealth Catholic Charities also functions as a resettlement agency for refugees. The resettlement program supervisor, Abubaker Abdelrahman, is Sudanese and came here as a refugee. It was he who told me that the Richmond Sudanese-American community was hosting a cultural festival and soccer tournament over the weekend at Henrico County’s Dorey Park. It turned out to be a pretty big deal. Roughly 800 Sudanese-Americans came from 10 states. Not all were refugees. Some were immigrants. Some were citizens, both naturalized and U.S.-born.
This was the 14th annual soccer tournament, which is hosted each year in a different city. Over time, media coordinator Mohamed Gaafar says, the tournament has become more about carrying on cultural traditions: songs, dances, and, yes, food.
“We use soccer as an excuse,” says 22-year-old Samah Mohamed.
Still, soccer was played, and, in the end, Ohio, the reigning champs, beat Virginia.
“We did something wonderful here,” Gaafar says. “It was the best tournament we have ever had.”