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Playing (Soccer) For Change in Nicaragua

by Soccer Without Borders
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
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,


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


Rosa, 2014 scholarship recipient
Rosa, 2014 scholarship recipient

Don't you agree? Research shows that expected lifetime earnings for a girl in the developing world increase by about 10-15% for every additional year of secondary school. Still, for girls in Granada, there are significant barriers to secondary school enrollment, let alone completion. Let's break it down for a second:

  • While primary school enrollment for Nicaraguan girls is 85%, secondary school enrollment is just 45%.
  • The attendance rate for Nicaraguan girls in primary school is 83.6%, yet in secondary school it drops to 57.9%, meaning girls miss more than 2 days per week of school on average each week.
  • The school life expectancy for a Nicaraguan girl is 10.2 years.
  • Nearly half of Nicaraguan girls are pregnant by age 20, with over a quarter of births to girls age 14-18 (this rate is much lower for girls who stay in school!).

It's uphill at every turn. Some of the most significant barriers are:

  • Cost of uniforms and school supplies, even at public schools
  • Lost potential income for family
  • Responsibilities in the home so that parents can work (care for siblings, cleaning, watching the house)
  • Lack of incentive for long-term visioning and planning 
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Health issues causing high absence rate
  • Lack of academic support once behind

The list is daunting- but our girls are brave. With that in mind, drumroll.... 

We are ecstatic to announce the launch of the Fútbol Sin Fronteras Granada Programa Educativo (SWB Granada Education Program). The program was established in 2014 to provide educational and financial support to girls in FSF who have dedicated themselves to learning, to their team, and to their futures. It was created by an SWB family in memory of a young man who exhibited all of the characteristics of a well-rounded student-athlete: humility, dedication to school and team, integrity, hard work, care for self and others. 

The program has two tiers: 

  • Tier 1 (accessible to all participants): Material support for school uniforms (public and private) and educational supplies earned through participation in SWB activities.  Daily homework hours with access to computers, art supplies, internet, and tutors.
  • Tier 2 (accessible to selected participants): Secondary school scholarships for matriculation fees, full uniform and educational supplies. Mandatory tutoring and advising hours and quarterly progress reports. 

We are humbled to expand our impact to include direct financial, educational support, and excited to be working alongside with our girls' schools to help them get to the finish line. Without six years of trust and program-building, we would not be able to implement such a nuanced and extensive effort. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way, and for your continued interest in the impact you've made. Get to know all 14 of our scholarship recipients and learn more about the program here


Our girls never cease to amaze us. Their energy, enthusiasm, and courage inspire us to build as many avenues to opportunities as we possibly can, so that they can maximize their incredible potential. 2013 was quite a year for Soccer Without Borders in Nicaragua, a year of firsts and of milestones. For example,

2013 was the first time that...

  • 5 of our coaches ever flew in an airplane or visited the U.S.
  • 64 girls participated in their first ever season as a member of one of our teams 
  • all participants had the chance to meet the full Nicaraguan Women's National Team and the President of the Nicaraguan Football Federation- FENIFUT
  • our oldest girls' team recorded a league win over a boys team

2013 marked the...

  • 5 year anniversary of the program
  • largest girls soccer event in Granada history, with a 17 team Peace Cup on September 21st
  • inauguration of a new dedicated field space
  • expansion to four teams, including the nation's unofficial youngest team, las Mariposa Juniors ages 7-9
  • formalization of a partnership between SWB Nicaragua and fellow Streetfootballworld member Seprojoven in Costa Rica.

In the year to come we have lofty goals, but our girls and coaches are determined to keep pushing the boundaries by:

  • implementing a new education program, including access to school uniforms and school supplies for all participants, and the opportunity to apply for secondary school scholarships
  • expand the program to 1-2 neighborhoods outside of the city center to regularly reach girls who are not within walking distance
  • attend the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup youth festival hosted by partner Seprojoven in Costa Rica
  • expand to a 5th team, the Caterpillars, ages 7-8, allowing the Mariposa Jrs. to become more age-specific
  • build on the momentum of the Peace Cup, Day of the Girl, and International Women's Day celebrations to expand our reach outside of Granada
  • implement an 8 week gym class curriculum to expose more girls to the program and encourage healthy, active choices

If you'd like to see some pictures from the past year, check out the highlight film that the girls watched at the opening event of 2014 at the link below (warning, major amateurism!). 

Thank you for your continued support and for following our girls in Granada!


Mary McVeigh


Until recently, no one had been able to put a number on exactly how limited sports opportunities are for girls are in Latin America. Recently, the Pan-American Health Organization decided to find out. In a study of Nicaraguan girls and boys, ninety percent of Nicaraguan girls reported barriers to participation in sport. The top three barriers: Safe places to play, equipment and resources, and parental permission. 

Soccer Without Borders in Nicaragua has been breaking down barriers to participation in sport for girls since 2008. The result is a girls-centered space that maximizes the power of "team" to empower the next generation of girls to demand access to opportunities...on the field and off. 

Check out our new video Rompiendo Fronteras- Breaking Boundaries to see that girls-centered space come to life, meet some of our coaches and leaders, and see the impact that you've made already. Today, please consider supporting Soccer Without Borders for the Global Giving Bonus Day! Global Giving is matching 30% of every donation starting right now until matching funds are gone. 

Thank you so much for giving these girls the opportunities they deserve, and for your continued support of SWB Granada, Nicaragua.



Girls are scientists. Girls are activists. Girls are athletes. Girls are inventors. Girls are explorers. This week, in honor of the second annual Day of the Girl, our girls are celebrating all of the things that "Girls are..." around the world.  

The research is clear: "when girls grow up healthy, educated, safe, and empowered, they emerge as adults better able to ensure their own success and well-being, and that of others." Just last month, girls, communities, and organizations from across the globe joined together to detail the Girl Declaration, to ensure that girls are included in the post-2015 global development agenda. Let's see what SWB Nicaragua does to achieve the targets for the first goal outlined by the declaration: EDUCATION.

Target: "Ensure all girls transition to and complete free, quality secondary school, prioritizing the most marginalized."

Reality: In Nicaragua, public schools are not free; uniform, matriculation, and material costs can be prohibitively expensive for many families. Loss of potential income and responsibilities in the home contribute to a secondary school enrollment rate of just 49% for girls (UNESCO).  Of those who enroll, barely 66% complete 9th grade. 

What we can do: We are proud to announce that SWB will launch a secondary school uniform and scholarship program beginning in 2014. All girls will have access to free school uniforms and shoes, and can apply for a scholarship to cover school matriculation, graduation, testing, and field trip fees, as well as all materials. Currently, SWB offers free tutoring and homework help to all girls each week, and an equipment and school-supply system that allows girls to "purchase" items using points earned through participation. The new uniform and scholarship program will mark a significant expansion to these current offerings, and we are incredibly excited to share our progress with you as it is implemented.

Today, we celebrate the potential of each of the girls in our program, and every girl around the world. With your support, we can continue to provide tangible support for these girls to realize that potential, a safe space in which to grow, and the skills to make their dreams a reality.

Thank you for your continued support of our girls and teams in Granada. We hope you'll consider supporting us again on the upcoming Global Giving bonus day, October 23rd. Happy Day of the Girl!

All the best,

The SWB Granada Team



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Organization Information

Soccer Without Borders

Location: Cambridge, MA - USA
Project Leader:
Mary McVeigh
Cambridge, MA United States
$65,633 raised of $75,000 goal
2,183 donations
$9,367 to go
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