Soccer Without Borders

The organization Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is another great example of individuals combining their passion for sports, in this case soccer, and their desire to affect change.

No matter where organizations, companies, or individuals look to make a positive impact, the act of doing so is what is important. However, a model that SWB employs and may need to be replicated by some others in the U.S. is offering programs abroad and here as well. This may help when non-profits try to communicate their efforts to folks in this country. Sometimes it is hard for people and companies to fully appreciate your efforts unless they see it in person.

The full article from can be found at with an excerpt provided below.  You can learn more about SWB at


By Graham Hays,

Nicaraguan girls enriched via soccer; NCAA players help disadvantaged girls through Soccer Without Borders

Somewhere in the barrios of Granada, Nicaragua, a city in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, there is a young girl waiting for an opportunity. She is bright and outgoing, a fire waiting to be lit in a place where hope too often lies cold and dormant.

Somewhere in Granada there are future Zoe Bouchelles and Myra Sacks.

And if soccer isn’t a solution to all that stands in the way of their realizing that potential, it can at least offer some of the supplies necessary for the long journey ahead.

“I’ve been playing sports my whole life and all throughout college, but I don’t think in the moment you realize how much it’s helping you or how much it’s helping you develop as a person,” Bouchelle said. “When I graduated and looked back on it, I thought, ‘I gained so much.’ I had the opportunity to travel, the opportunity to make friends — most of my friends are people I grew up playing sports with — just to have that sense of self-esteem, confidence, that you’re going out every day and you’re getting better at something.”

One year removed from the end of their college careers, Bouchelle and former Penn State teammate Kaleen Adami leave this week as the first long-term interns for Soccer Without Borders in Granada. For the next eight months, they will live with local families and continue the work of the volunteer student-athletes and coaches who preceded them for shorter stints over the past year and a half, including Sack and two of her Dartmouth teammates.

Founded by former Lehigh men’s soccer player Ben Gucciardi, Soccer Without Borders, in its own words, attempts to “use soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of marginalized youth.” The organization operates year-round programs in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Uganda and domestically in Oakland, Calif., and New York, working in many of those places with refugees who might otherwise be isolated and adrift in unfamiliar cultures.

But in Granada — the organization’s only project devoted exclusively to girls — the outsiders at risk are not recent arrivals. As in much of Latin America and the developing world, soccer remains almost entirely the province of males in Nicaragua, leaving girls without even that one tool of socialization in a place where formal education can be sporadic for both genders.

“Sport is such an empowering thing,” Granada program director Mary McVeigh explained. “And I think team sports, in particular, for women are really powerful because women tend to derive their confidence when they are amongst their peers, or from their peers.”

The article continues at