I've had the pleasure to have volunteered with Soccer Without Borders since 2008, and I know first hand what an incredible difference they make in the lives of newcomer and refugee youth throughout the USA. I started volunteering as a summer camp soccer coach with SWB in Oakland, CA. The Soccer Without Borders soccer camp was a highlight both of my summers and those of the many incredible children I got to know and coach. In Oakland the camps brought together students who had found their way to California from all parts of the world, We had students from Myanmar, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to name just a few. While their love for soccer brought these children together, SWB's camp was about so much more than soccer. We had activities that helped the kids build community and trust across cultures and languages. Inside the comfortable and safe space of a soccer field, the students also learned more English, found new friends, and discussed how to live a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally, in their city and neighborhoods. I've watched as SWB has grown and been able to provide more and more opportunities for support in summer and throughout the year. For the fortunate refugees and newcomers who have access to SWB, the organization now provides robust support to them and their families year round.My favorite moments with SWB always include seeing kids from totally different parts of the world, who share a history of turbulence, upheaval, and trauma, bonding together, laughing, and finding joy in their new home country. This doesn't happen by accident. SWB is so conscientious about how they train their staff and volunteers to run great youth programs and also how to be refugee/newcomer/trauma sensitive. I've also had the chance to see what an impact SWB can make for students over many years. I rejoice when I see that students who I coached almost 10 years ago, who could hardly speak a word of English and felt very shy, are now coaches themselves - helping to promote a program that helped them.Soccer Without Borders is an incredible nonprofit that is doing amazing work with some of the most vulnerable youth in our country.
I learned of SWB when my daughter had the opportunity to intern in the Nicaragua program. I was fortunate enough to travel there and see for myself how the volunteers were immersed in the community and their work. Their dedication to the girls and the program overall is incredible. They do extraordinary work engaging the young girls through the game of soccer. The benefits go far beyond the game of soccer. A real partnership between the girls and coaches develops in the supportive atmosphere that is created allowing them to confidently pursue their goals. The young girls go forth to be role models and leaders in their community.
The dedication of the Soccer Without Borders staff never ceases to amaze me. They truly believe in the power of their work to affect change, and that conviction leads to success, on the field and off!
My roommate currently works for SWB. She was a prior volunteer with the Uganda program after she graduated college. Since then, I have witnessed all the hard work she has put in to making SWB as successful as possible. Over the past few years, I have met the staff of SWB and many of their program participants. I have also attended numerous fundraising and award functions. Everyone I have met in the process is an inspiration. It is amazing to see soccer bring together such a diverse group of people.