Friends of SWB,
With your support, Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua has been working to build a more inclusive world since 2006. Over these 14 years, our community has shown resiliency in the face of tremendous economic, social, political and public health challenges. While the global reach of the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in our history as an organization, our strategies and principles for resiliency remain the same:
We are stronger together than apart
The opposite of isolation is inclusion. We are leveraging every tool we can to strengthen connectivity, particularly among our youth participants and staff members who are most at risk of falling out of the loop. Our team of dedicated staff have prioritized connection with participants and families, regularly checking in and strengthening the close relationships on which our program was built.
Get them to the field
We have been exercising the muscles of creative program design and addressing access barriers for years. Although we can't convene in person, that won't stop us from making sure our participants continue to thrive. During this time, SWB’s coach-mentors are bringing programming to participants through creative at home activities and challenges.
We play best when we're smiling
We are working proactively to take care of ourselves and each other, while doing our part to minimize the spread of the Covid-19 virus by aligning with local and national directives. And while we can’t come together as teams at this time, our players and coaches have continued to build team spirit and ensure that our teams are a source of support for one another.
From SWB Nicaragua to SWB Uganda to SWB USA, creating belonging has always been our core product. That has not changed. While we have paused in-person activities, the SWB Nicaragua team is proactively engaging our participants in new ways and ensuring that our community has the information that they need to stay healthy, access meals, and navigate access to health care.
The Soccer Without Borders Team
Much like many small businesses and nonprofits, the pandemic has already caused financial losses from cancelled fundraising events. If you would like to support our work in Nicaragua, please consider making a donation today.
As we jump into a new year of programming in Granada and beyond we're reflecting on the brightest and biggest moments of 2019 at Fútbol Sin Fronteras. From adding new teams, to expanding educational support and access, to representing at the Women's World Cup and Equality Summit there is so much to celebrate… Check out the highlights from our year!
FSF expands to 3 additional communities
In January 2019, FSF launched EXPANSION SITES in 3 new communities surrounding Granada, supporting more than 60 girls from La Laguna, Diamante, and Fortin to join us for our annual TEAM Camp. Since then our coaches have continued growing teams in these communities, hosting open practices twice per week and supporting more players to plug into our central programming, leagues, and special events. In 2020 our team plans to build upon these expansions and continue to track our regional impact.
La Liga Escolar hosts its 4th season
From May-June the fourth annual Liga Escolar (School League) was facilitated by FSF's Program Coordinators at our fields in downtown Granada. Eight secondary schools entered teams in the weekly league, the only formal league for young girls in the city. Congrats to our 2019 champions from Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!
FSF represents at the Women's World Cup
In connection with the Women's World Cup, leaders from sport-for-good organizations throughout the world came together to elevate the conversation around women and girls on and off the pitch. Co-Director, Veronica Balladares, represented SWB at the Equality Summit in Lyon, sharing best practices and strengthening connections within the football for good network and other representatives from Latin American organizations. Learn more about Veronica's experience and expertise in developing girls' sport programs here!
10th Annual Copa de La Paz
The annual Peace Cup hosted in celebration of the International Day of Peace (September 21st) continues to be the largest girls-only football tournament in Nicaragua. This year the event grew even more; La Copa spanned 2 weekends and included more than 300 players who took part in 10 hours of tournament play. In total 20 teams competed, representing more than 5 communities and 6 organizations throughout Nicaragua.
FSF selects new Youth Leaders
Our 'Grupo de Lideres' continues to serve as a pipeline for leadership development within FSF. After celebrating our 2019 Grupo de Lideres and their culminating community service project, FSF opened applications for our 2020 cohort, selecting 7 participants from our oldest teams to serve as youth leaders and assistant coaches in the new year. Learn more about both cohorts by following our Facebook page!
SWB hosts Sports & Leadership Camp in Boaco
One of SWB's "Global Goal 5 Moments of the Year" was SWB Nicaragua's Women's Sports Corps Camp in October. Through a collaboration with Plan International-Nicaragua, Women Win, and the US Embassy, 5 FSF alumnae traveled to the department of Boaco to lead a soccer and leadership camp for girls from the communities of Teustepe, Acedades, San Jose de los Remates, la Cruz, El Emplame de Boaco, and La Cuesta. Our young Women's Sports Corps fellows exemplified what it means to be a leader throughout the camp, working hard to create more opportunities for women to participate in organized sport in the area.
Education & Scholarship Program continues to grow
With continued support from the Tom Pope Fund and the Girls Rights Project our Education and Scholarship program continued to grow during its 6th year. In 2019, FSF awarded 44 scholarship recipients (including 4 university, 28 secondary school, and 12 primary school) in addition to providing school supplies, uniforms, and access to mentoring and tutoring sessions. In November, 25 participants graduated from secondary school and FSF financially supported 25 families with their daughters' transitions to secondary school. In 2020 3 new university scholarship recipients will begin their post-secondary studies with support from FSF... Congratulations to Mariangeles, Valeria, and Mileydi!
These developments are a direct result of the dedication and hard work from our participants, staff, and YOU our community of passionate volunteers, donors, and supporters. THANK YOU! Join us in kicking off the new year and building upon this success by MAKING A DONATION to support girls throughout Nicaragua.
In the more than 11 years since programming began at Fútbol Sin Fronteras Granada our program has consistently grown and expanded. Our team has discovered creative ways to reach more girls and contribute to the larger growth of the women’s game in Nicaragua; whether through creating new teams, establishing an expansion site in La Villa, facilitating ‘La Liga Escolar’ for more than 10 secondary school teams, or scaling up the annual ‘Copa de la Paz.'.
A substantial piece of FSF’s contribution to the growth of the women’s game has been through camps and clinics run in collaboration with other communities and organizations. In building upon the success of our 2018 Women’s Sports Corps Camp in Pearl Lagoon, the Fútbol Sin Fronteras team will again branch out into a community new to us this time in Chontales with the support of Plan International and the US Embassy. From today through October 27th, 6 FSF coaches—including 5 program alumnae—will implement a soccer camp for more than 60 girls from the city of Boaco and surrounding areas. The camp will serve as a continuation of Plan’s locally run girls league and include soccer sessions, leadership reflections and team-building activities. FSF coaches will utilize this opportunity to work with an additional 12 community coaches, sharing best practices in engaging girls and tools to continue making football opportunities available to an estimated 200 girls in their own communities.
In recent months, FSF has also made investments in tracking the reach of our special events and programs in an effort to learn more about our reach throughout Nicaragua. In celebration of the International Day of the Girl, FSF hosted the ‘Carrera de la Nina’ inviting girls from our newest expansion sites in La Laguna, Fortin, and Diamante to participate. More than 160 girls, ages 4-18 participated in the race which included 5 age-based categories and distances. In September, la Copa de Paz spanned 2 weekends and included more than 300 players enabling 20 teams from more than 5 communities and 6 organizations to take part 10 hours of tournament play. Carolina, a member of the team representing el Colegio Mercedes Mondragon reflected on the excitement of seeing more girls on the pitch, “What I enjoyed the most was playing football as friends and having so much fun and meeting more girls who also love to play football.”
As we approach the final months of 2019 programming, FSF will be assessing the larger impact our work has had women’s game in Nicaragua, including the number of additional youth reached through special events, coaches trained through our workshops and collaborations, leagues hosted, equipment provided and much more. To follow our team’s work in Chontales this week and support our alumnae-coaches as they lead the next Women’s Sports Corps Camp check out the Fútbol Sin Fronteras Facebook page.
While the momentum surrounding the women’s game began well before the World Cup, the energy generated by the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Lyon, France has lasted well past the end of the final match. Conversations about equal pay, resource allocation, advocacy, and football as a tool for social change have continued on a global scale as well as among staff at FSF Nicaragua.
In this moment focused on the Women’s World Cup, FSF leaders joined the global football community to elevate gender equity and inclusion within and outside of the sport. In France, Veronica Balladares, Co-Director of Fútbol Sin Fronteras Nicaragua, joined the Equality Summit hosted by streetfootballworld to share her expertise and experience in growing SWB's only all-girls program. The summit, which aimed to bring together football-for-good organizations and leaders in gender equity also provided significant opportunities for learning and network building.
In her more than 10 years with FSF, Veronica has been crucial to the expansion of FSF from building new girls’ teams, to investing in youth leadership pipelines, and developing academic advancement pathways where previously none existed. The opportunity to share and engage with peers from across the globe was energizing shared Balladares, "It is the first time that I am in France, and this festival helps to meet more people from the same network and to be able to continue working and growing through football. It is exciting to be at a Women's World Cup—you look at people and fans and its exciting how people support women's football, their teams.”
Meanwhile in Hightstown, New Jersey Lisbeth Calderon, FSF’s Education Coordinator, was also representing FSF in the conversation around gender equity. Through a collaboration with the US Embassy in Nicaragua and FHI360, Lisbeth led a delegation of 5 young female athletes from across the country in representing Nicaragua both on and off the field as a part of the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy. During their time in the U.S., the delegation took part in workshops focused on cultural and peer exchange, gender equity and women’s rights, as well as the development of their own leadership skills before stepping onto the pitch for a week-long of football camp.
As a part of JFSLA, the Nicaraguan delegation joined more than 60 players and coaches from over 12 additional countries to celebrate gender equity, using their respective sports as the medium for conversation and reflection. "I consider these types of events to be very important, it is an opportunity to meet people and cultures and be able to share through sport. [We are able to] leave the barriers of language and culture and connect through our love for the sport,” shared Calderon, “Through this experience, I will have the opportunity to share with my coworkers some of the strategies I gained and use them in each of our training sessions."
With these experiences, comes an opportunity for FSF to continue to collaborate within and outside of Nicaragua to advance girls and women’s football across Latin America. As we build upon the conversations and connections made in Lyon, we will also be working again with the JFSLA Nicaraguan delegation members to support their development as coaches and advocates within local communities.
Today is the last chance to cast your vote for FSF in the Girl Fund Challenge! With your support, Fútbol Sin Fronteras is holding strong in 9th place having already raised more than $6000 from more than 150 votes! With just 12 hours left to go, we are setting our sights on breaking into the top 4 and unlocking critical funding for the rest of 2019 in the process. A donation of any size made before before 11:59pm EST today counts as a vote. With a team effort, we can get there!
Over the past 11 years, your support for breaking barriers for girls has enabled FSF to both sustain and consistently grow our programming. As we enter the next decade of FSF, we will continue to expand both the depth and breadth of our program in order to welcome more girls from the greater-Granada area into our community. Already in 2019, we grew our annual T.E.A.M. Camp, supporting more than 60 new players and youth coaches from la Laguna, el Fortín, and el Modroño to participate in the week’s events. Through regular from our dedicated team of coach-mentors, program alumni, and youth leaders,FSF is facilitating consistent training sessions in each community and supporting their participation in this year’s leagues, tournaments, camps, and special events. Our work with a Laguna, el Fortín, and el Modroño draws heavily from our experience in creating La Villa’s program and will lay the foundations for establishing 3 additional satellite sites and welcoming 6 new teams into a regional girls' league by the year 2023.
Thank you for your dedication to providing continued soccer, educational, and leadership opportunities for young women and girls in Granada and beyond!
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