Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua

by Soccer Without Borders
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Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua
One group of scholarship recipients
One group of scholarship recipients

We are thrilled to announce that our Fútbol Sin Fronteras (FSF, Soccer Without Borders in Spanish) Education Program has awarded its annual scholarships for 2022, bringing our total to over 450 scholarships since the program began. The FSF Education program was established to facilitate positive secondary school outcomes for participants of Fútbol Sin Fronteras Granada through a system of financial, academic, and social-emotional support that empowers participants to overcome barriers to success. The FSF Education Program was launched in 2014 in memory of a student-athlete who exhibited humility, dedication to school and team, integrity, hard work, care for self and others. The program was established by his family to provide educational and financial support to girls in FSF who have dedicated themselves to learning, to their team, and to their futures.The education program works in tandem with soccer, leadership, and health activities to support girls to reach their full potential on the field and off.

Read the 2021 FSF Education Program report here>>

The 2022 school year in Nicaragua kicked off in February, awarding primary, secondary, and university scholarships to over 90 girls. With ongoing support from the Tom Pope Memorial Fund and Girls Rights Project, in addition to individual supporters, since its creation the program has now awarded over 475 scholarships. The combination of financial and academic resources supports girls to maintain an average academic advancement rate of 93% over the last five years in a context where nearly half of students in the general population do not advance to secondary school.

The FSF Education Program's scholarship provides not only matriculation and semester fees, but also school uniforms, school supplies, tutoring, access to computers and internet, and regular check-ins with school staff, parents, and students.

"Since my daughter joined Soccer Without Borders, she has experienced significant changes in her life to the point that the teacher at her school comments that she has become more sure of herself, social, and participatory in class. I thank Soccer Without Borders because it’s the only organization working with girls that creates a safe space where they can raise their voices."

-Taymara S., participant parent

Felicidades to all of the 2022 scholarship recipients!

The FSF Scholarship provides...

Helen Ramirez (center) Education Prog. Coordinator
Helen Ramirez (center) Education Prog. Coordinator

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2nd Division Team
2nd Division Team

Dear Friends,

As we close out 2021, we are sending gratitude to everyone who has supported our efforts to provide safe and positive spaces for the girls of Fútbol Sin Fronteras (FSF) amidst difficult times. The resilience of our participants, the hard work of our staff, and the investment of our community of supporters enabled us to keep innovating, responding, and expanding our work. This includes:

1. The FSF Education Program: Since its creation, the Fútbol Sin Fronteras (Soccer Without Borders) Education program in Nicaragua has awarded a total of 386 scholarships, including 359 secondary and primary school scholarships and 27 university scholarships. In 2021, the program also distributed 1382 units of food and basic needs support. Read more about this program and its 2021 impact in this report.

2. Reaching new communities: In partnership with Plan International and Women Win, FSF coaches continued to lead coaching clinics across Nicaragua, advancing gender equity on and off the field of play. Our strength in coaching was complemented by the entire FSF staff earning their CONCACAF D Licenses this year.  Read more here.

3. Expanded partnership with Capelli Sport: After a two year partnership in the USA, Capelli Sport has renewed and expanded its partnership with Soccer Without Borders to include SWB NIcaragua, becoming the official uniform and apparel provider of SWB globally. Read the announcement.

4. 2nd Division Team Launch: Though competitive soccer is not our focus, as the only soccer organization for girls in Granada, our participants, coaches, and graduates are some of the most talented players in the country. This Fall, we were invited by the Nicaraguan Football Federation to enter a women's team into the 2nd division representing the department of Granada. The team, made up nearly entirely of FSF coaches and alumnae, sits atop their division currently and has garnered a strong following in the city. Follow the team on Facebook.

5. Regional leadership: SWB Nicaragua staff will share their experience and expertise as facilitators of the new SOMOS Equidad Global Goal 5 Accelerator in Latin America. With participating organizations from Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, and Ecuador, the project not only seeks to empower girls on the pitch but also aims to break down societal mechanisms that contribute to gender inequalities at large. Read more here.

There is still time to support SWB Nicaragua in 2021 with a donation to our Play It Forward Campaign. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to an outstanding 2022!
Coaching workshop
Coaching workshop
Congratulations primary school graduates
Congratulations primary school graduates
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Players compete in the new U12 Mixed League
Players compete in the new U12 Mixed League

The last few months have been exciting at Fútbol Sin Fronteras, with the launch of a new Mixed Youth League, the U17 team playing in Nicaragua's U17 National Women's Tournament, to CONCACAF licensing for all head coaches. 

Fútbol Sin Fronteras Launches New Mixed League
Fútbol Sin Fronteras Nicaragua has been serving girls in Granada for over 13 years, providing leagues, clinics, community events, and academic support. Now, with the launch of the new Liga de Menores Mixtas (Mixed Youth League) those services are being extended to even more youth in the Granada area. In particular, this new endeavor is being used to serve the youngest girls and boys in Nicaragua, for whom there are very few leagues and opportunities for game play.

The new league formally launched on June 12, 2021, and will host games every Saturday morning for both U8 and U12 participants. Through this, FSF is hoping to bring together the entire community in Granada and create a supportive space where youth can play soccer and other family and community members can watch. Perhaps most importantly, though, this is a space where young people can learn the importance of gender equity through sport alongside one another. A mixed league is a powerful way to create a basis of understanding gender equity for both boys and girls at a young age.

“It is important that from a young age kids realize that girls have the same skills, abilities, and capacity when it comes to soccer,” said FSF Head Coach Francisca Alvarez. “That girls possess the talent, strength, and wisdom to do any activity or achieve any goal that they set their minds to.”

The league is spearheaded by Francisca Alvarez, an alumna of FSF who saw that there was a gap in serving youth of this age in Granada. She’d received feedback that many younger kids wanted to participate in games, but there was no structure in place for them to do so. Together with her colleagues, and with support from the Boreiko family, the Liga de Menores Mixtas, or Mixed Youth League, was created.

Every September, FSF hosts the Peace Cup, one of the largest girls sporting events in the country. Historically, the youngest teams at the Peace Cup have had few other opportunities to play in games. This new Mixed League will serve as a complement to the Peace Cup, providing fun, healthy competition throughout the year.

“We want this project to continue throughout the year, and create a way to open and close the league every year,” Alvarez said. “We want children to be encouraged to be a part of this family.”
FSF Coaches Earn CONCACAF D Coaching Licenses
Soccer Without Borders is proud to share that all SWB Nicaragua/Fútbol Sin Fronteras (FSF) Head Coaches have earned their CONCACAF D Licenses and are now professionally certified and trained by the Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT).

“[Licensing] is important because it means we have support for the work we do in basic soccer coaching, especially since we want to hold a high level in girls' learning. Now coaches feel more confident in our knowledge,” said Veronica Balladares, FSF Nicaragua Co-Director.

The licensing process took place over the course of three months, wherein coaches participated in classes over Zoom, along with reviewing coaching materials and completing assignments to enhance their skills. Coaches learned about theoretical, socio-emotional, and physical aspects of coaching, and then practiced applying that new knowledge to practice and game plans.

“The main objective is to give women the opportunity to obtain their national license for free so that they are the ones who lead the women's teams here in Nicaragua,” said Dalila López Sánchez, Women’s Soccer Director at FENIFUT.

As women’s professional soccer expands in Nicaragua, CONCACAF licenses provide a great opportunity for coaches to become key parts of this evolving sphere, and even qualify Fútbol Sin Fronteras coaches to lead semi-professional teams.

“We have experienced rapid growth at the [women’s] national level and we are strengthening the growth pyramid,” Lopez Sánchez said.

The course trained coaches in scaffolding practices to meet girls where they are, and introduced coaches to evaluating the progression of activities to highlight individual and collective growth. These steps are allowing coaches to professionalize their teams and practices, which is exciting for coaches and participants alike.

“This is a way of seeing players with professional eyes, so that they can improve overall together and know how to improve either in a tactical or technical skill,” said FSF coach Lisbeth Calderon.

Obtaining CONCACAF licences is a milestone for Fútbol Sin Fronteras coaches, and for women’s soccer in Nicaragua as a whole. FSF coaches continue to be role models and industry leaders in creating opportunities for female leadership in the national soccer space.

U12 Mixed League awards
U12 Mixed League awards
All smiles under their masks!
All smiles under their masks!
FSF Coaches earn CONCACAF D Licenses
FSF Coaches earn CONCACAF D Licenses
FSF Coaches earn CONCACAF D Licenses
FSF Coaches earn CONCACAF D Licenses

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Maria
Maria

Seven years ago, the Fútbol Sin Fronteras Granada Programa Educativo (Soccer Without Borders Granada Education Program) was created to address the economic and social support barriers that girls face in graduating from secondary school and pursuing their career goals. Seeded by the Tom Pope Memorial Fund, the program established a combination of academic and financial supports, including school scholarships, for girls in FSF who have dedicated themselves to their education, team, and community. The education program is part of Fútbol Sin Fronteras’ overarching goal of advancing gender equality, supporting girls in Nicaragua to reach their full potential on and off the field. The program supports positive secondary school outcomes for FSF participants through financial, academic, and socio-emotional assistance to enable recipients to overcome barriers to success.

In Nicaragua, attending public school is not free; the matriculation fees and required school uniforms are two of many barriers that lead to over half of girls dropping out of school before 7th grade. The FSF Education program addresses these barriers head on, providing scholarships that include school uniforms, school supplies, matriculation and monthly school fees, access to internet, printing, and computers, and ongoing tutoring to support every girl to pass her grade and graduate from secondary school.

“[These scholarships] provide them with the necessary tools to enable them to move out of the poverty levels they encounter and develop their youth leadership,” said program coordinator Helen Ramirez.

With additional support from the Girls’ Rights Project, the Blanco family, and other individual supporters, the program has been able to meet the increasing demand each year with great success: on average more than 90% of girls pass their grade and go on to the next. This year, the education program is providing 85 scholarships to girls in primary and secondary school, and eight university scholarships to outstanding graduates of the program.

This year, one of those university scholarship recipients is María José Canales Pérez. She started with FSF in 2015, and immediately felt a connection with the program, her fellow participants, and the coaches. She earned a scholarship for secondary school shortly after she joined the program, and worked hard to maintain it through graduation.

“This year I received a call from one of my coaches who said I had qualified for a college scholarship, and it filled me with joy,” said Maria. “I was happy, and saw the support never ended.”  

As a part of her university scholarship, Maria commits to serving as an assistant coach, leading younger girls and supporting them on their own journeys. “Now I am part of the team "The Wonders" and it feels so good to be able to teach the girls what I learned,” said Maria. “I feel happy to know where I am now, to be the person I am now — the experience is incredible.”

Another recipient, Karla Jessenia Franco Chávez, reflected on her experience with Futbol Sin Fronteras (SWB Nicaragua):
 have been a part of Futbol Sin Fronteras for 11 years. The first team I joined was the team of the youngest girls, where I gradually developed in both the football and the personal. My favorite part of playing football is always sharing those team moments with other girls and enjoying fun matches. There are stories that I will never forget, like all the stages that I’ve grown through. Being a part of the organization makes me very happy.

All the opportunities that football has given me have made me a leader and has taught me to express myself without fear. An experience that  helped me a lot was being on the leadership team, where I developed a lot. The confidence I gained was incredible, and it helped me develop on my team as well as in my personal life. My highest goal is to finish my college career, which is in Social Work and Development Management.

Karla
Karla
Academic tutoring session
Academic tutoring session
Youth leadership group
Youth leadership group

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End of year 2020 celebration
End of year 2020 celebration

As a direct-service organization Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua (Fútbol Sin Fronteras) found unique ways to serve and connect with our participants during this COVID-19 pandemic. Through virtual team sessions and at-home individual fitness and learning challenges, we’ve been creating belonging throughout the pandemic, while stepping up our support of families with additional food supplies and disseminating public health information.

Despite these efforts, we know that youth in Nicaragua are experiencing higher levels of stress brought on by isolation and increases in domestic violence during periods of lockdown. That’s why we are especially pleased to report that we were able to begin returning to in-person programming during the Fall, closing out the year together as teams in-person, with new Covid-protocols in place. Our program directors are grateful to our community, including parents for encouraging their children to participate.

This January, Fútbol Sin Fronteras Nicaragua kicked off 2021 with its TEAM Camp to welcome in the new year with fun activities and bring participants together. TEAM stands for Trabajando en Equipo Aprendemos Más, or working as a team we learn more, which took on even greater meaning as we value each opportunity to come together. Despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic, this marked the 14th anniversary of the camp, showing the resilience of our community. 

Spread out across several days and groups, hundreds of female athletes ranging from elementary to university aged participated in the programming, which utilized mask-wearing and other COVID safety precautions. Adjustments also included temperature checks, social distancing, breaking up into smaller groups of participants, and shortening activities to two and a half hours. 

“Being able to share these fun moments with them was the most amazing thing we could have at the beginning of 2021,” said Francisca, Head Coach and Alumna. “We are hopeful that with safety measures in place, anything can be possible.” 

FSF Granada continues to support our participants’ academic growth and is proud to recognize those who graduated from primary and secondary schools. They persevered despite limitations on in-person instruction and continued to excel academically. Through the support of the Tom Pope Memorial Fund and Girls Rights Project, FSF will support dozens of primary and secondary school scholarships in 2021, while also supporting nine university scholarships through the support of individual donors. 

The pandemic has impacted much of Soccer Without Borders’ traditional programming and fundraising. The global community and partners like you, through GlobalGiving, have made it possible for us to weather this storm. As we return to in-person programming, our priority remains creating safe and caring spaces for our participants, increasing opportunities for girls, and ensuring that every member of our community feels a sense of belonging. Thank you for your continued commitment to helping us reach these goals. We can’t do it without you and we’re glad you’re here! 

TEAM Camp in action
TEAM Camp in action
Back to the field for TEAM camp
Back to the field for TEAM camp
COVID-19 precautions included temp checks and mask
COVID-19 precautions included temp checks and mask
TEAM Camp participants - safely masked
TEAM Camp participants - safely masked
Celebrating our graduates
Celebrating our graduates

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Soccer Without Borders

Location: Baltimore, MD - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @soccerwoborders
Project Leader:
Mary Connor
Boston, MA United States
$71,983 raised of $100,000 goal
 
2,399 donations
$28,017 to go
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