Soccer Without Borders

Mission: Soccer Without Borders uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under served youth a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success. Core Values: Focus on the Whole Person: SWB believes in a whole-person approach. Our programs help young people come into a greater understanding of their bodies, minds, and voices, creating avenues toward individual growth, new opportunities, and the achievement of personal goals. Authenticity: Soccer Without Borders gives voice and value to the ideas of local leaders. In addition to imported human, physical, and intellectual resources, SWB mobilizes local expertise, empowering and employing resident expe...
Jan 27, 2015

Taking the reins: Meet the new Co-Directors of SWB Nicaragua!

It is with great pride that we announce the promotion of longtime coaches and program leaders Veronica Balladares and Cesar Morales to Co-Directors. 

Veronica Balladares was one of our five original coaches in 2008, bringing a wealth of expertise and support for our girls as a professional Psychologist. One of the most well-respected female players in Granada, Veronica was a mainstay defender and captain of the Granada premier team during its time in the Premier Division. Veronica has completed several SWB coaching courses, and this Spring received her FIFA youth coaching certification. Until now, she had worked with SWB part-time as coach of Team Sweet Lake while holding a full-time job with the Ministry of Health. We are ecstatic that she now joins SWB in a full-time capacity. Already, she was selected to participate in the streetfootballworld-led State Department Exchange between the U.S., Nicaragua, and Colombia, and will continue to serve as the SWB representative to the streetfootballworld network in Latin America.

Cesar Morales has been a part of the program since the very beginning, attending our first-ever coaches clinic in 2008. A well-known figure in the soccer community in Granada, he is team captain and center midfielder in the local men's league for his team FC Carillera. Cesar has coached the program's Mariposa Senior team for 4 years, and in 2014 became the Education Program Coordinator and Bookkeeper. He holds a college degree in accounting, and is a certified "contador" in Granada. In addition to his extensive administrative and financial skills, he is nearly fluent in English and continues to invest in professional development through participation in leadership courses, a U.S. State Department SportsUnited Exhange, and most recently the SWB Program Leaders' Retreat in Boston. 

For 7 years, SWB Granada has been a collaboration between the USA and Nicaragua, creating opportunities for girls on the field and off, including pathways to educational advancement. As someone who was there from the beginning, each year has brought challenges, successes, failures, and endless learning (Read more on this in our recent Huffington Post piece: "An Untold Story: Learning to Fail Forward"). This transition of leadership to local Nicaraguan Directors marks an incredible milestone and new challenge for the collaboration. Cesar and Veronica are up for the challenge, and have already hit the ground running, leading a busy January schedule and preparing for the new school year in which SWB will have 28 secondary school scholarship recipients.

Thank you for your continued support of SWB Nicaragua as we move into this next stage of evolution and local leadership, and felicidades Cesar y Veronica!

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Oct 24, 2014

Advancing Girls' Rights is a Global Effort

“Girls have the power to change the world.”

With these words, team leader Margot commenced the 2014 International Day of the Girl at Fútbol Sin Fronteras Granada. Speaking to over 100 girls across all five FSF teams, Margot explained that the Day celebrates and teaches that girls do not have to wait until adulthood to start making positive change in their communities: girls can make change every day. Citing Malala Yousafzai, young global champion of girls’ education and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Co-Winner as an example of how girls can change the world, Margot invited the girls to think about their unique capabilities and potential as young female and athletic leaders in Granada.

Since 2012, the United Nations has commemorated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to promote girls’ rights and promote worldwide gender equality. The UN theme for 2014 was Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence and recognizing the unique challenges that girls face all around the world.

FSF celebrated the Day of the Girl this year with a series of activities on and off the field, focusing on team building, girls’ rights, the importance of education, as well as ending the cycle of violence.

On Saturday, October 11, all FSF teams gathered at the Multi-Estadio field for a day of games – wheelbarrow races, jump rope competitions, and an intense version of dodgeball. Girls from youngest to oldest teams worked together in each game as members of Sweet Lake and the Estrellas helped the Maripositas and Princesas accomplish each task.

On Tuesday, October 14, the coaches led stations in the FSF Office, Tres Pisos, to reflect on the importance of the Day of the Girl. Activities included a conversation about the “Rights of the Girl” that asked the girls to design their own rights, as well as a powerpoint presentation on global women leaders such as Malala. Coaches asked girls how they could implement these lessons in their everyday interactions.

The week ended with a workshop for the older FSF teams led by Ixchen, a Granada-based women’s center. In fitting with the 2014 Day of the Girl theme, “Ending the Cycle of Violence,” representatives from Ixchen discussed preventing violence in romantic relationships and let them know what helpful resources are available in Granada should a dangerous situation arise in their lives.

The messages of the FSF Week of the Girl gave the girls hope for better education, an end to violence against girls, and opportunities to step up as leaders now, both on and off the field. Thank you for your continued support of FSF Granada. Your support is not only meaningful to our efforts locally, but a part of a larger movement toward equality of opportunity for girls across the globe.

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Jul 16, 2014

Our World Cup legacy

Coach Hassell at the UN Leadership Camp
Coach Hassell at the UN Leadership Camp

The Brazil games have all wrapped up, the trophy has been awarded, and players are headed home. There has been much talk surrounding the legacy of this World Cup and other mega events, and their impact on the communities and nations in which they are hosted. That discussion is both warranted and complicated, but for Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua one of the most powerful legacies of this World Cup lies in the hearts, minds, and abilities of two of our coaches.

The girls of SWB Nicaragua are the central focus of this program, and their needs, dreams, and ideas keep us on our toes constantly. Yet the unsung heroes who support our girls to bring those ideas and dreams to life are our Nicaraguan coaches. Our team of leaders, all of whom began as volunteers, has an average tenure of 46 months. That's nearly four years of daily innovating, teaching, supporting, listening, and problem solving with and for their teams.  It is no surprise that 91% of our girls said they think of their coach as someone they can go to with a serious problem.

Our coaches come from the very same community as our girls, and face the very same obstacles, making their perseverance and consistency that much more remarkable. Opportunities for personal development are rare, and education systems fall short in both quality and accessibility. For that reason, we could not be prouder that this June two of our Nicaraguan coaches were selected for two fully sponsored, global, leadership development opportunities: the Sony Global Youth Forum in Brazil, and the United Nations Youth Leadership Camp in Florida. 

Estefan headed to Brazil, joining just 35 peers selected from organizations around the world, to discuss the legacy of the World Cup and opportunities to create change through soccer in his home community. Hassell, a former participant-turned-coach, headed to the U.S. for two weeks of camp aimed at strategies for integrating life-skills training into sport, and practicing leadership skills while building cross-cultural bonds. 

Both returned to Granada energized by new knowledge and mentors, and inspired to deepen the impact of our program for our girls. That's a legacy that will ripple for years to come.

Thank you for investing in all that makes this program possible, most especially our local mentors and leaders. 

All the best,

Mary

p.s. Today is a GlobalGiving Bonus Day, meaning that all donations are matched! If you have been considering contributing again to the program, please consider donating today.

Coach Techo in Brazil at the Sony Youth Forum
Coach Techo in Brazil at the Sony Youth Forum

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