SWB Player Spotlight: Moutaz Bdawi

By: Moutaz Bdawi
Moutaz is a player on the U18 Boys' team at Soccer Without Borders Greeley-Fort Collins. Through his participation in the program, his positive attitude, and outstanding soccer play, he has been offered a number of scholarships to play soccer in college next year. Here, Moutaz gives us a glimpse into his amazing story, and his experience with SWB:

As a Soccer Without Borders player for the past two years, I have learned how to appreciate the game, coaches, volunteers, teammates, and the program in general. It feels like being in a family outside of the home. Working together and spending more time with the players in the program taught me much that I will remember. Of course, with the help of Amy Snider and Robb Ball, we've become much better players that can compete at almost any college level from now on. My dream in the United States was always to bring my love of soccer as a street player from back home in Libya and develop it under a great program of coaches and teammates from around the world. Truly, these experiences have given me so many opportunities to look forward to; not only in the game, but also in the chance to attend college and do what I love, soccer. SWB has provided us the chance to shine individually, and we've created better relationships with the help of the staff and coaches.
I'm very thankful for what they have given me, and I'm looking forward to more memories and success for the rest of the season with SWB.

Moutaz all ready for college life!

The U18 Boys Team!


Reflections from the field- Team Leader Collin Burks

Collin Burks, Team Leader, SWB Granada
Collin's time as a Team Leader in Nicaragua is partially supported by the generosity of the Jessica Jennifer Cohen Foundation. Check out Collin's midterm report to the JJC Foundation below.
Here in Nicaragua, we hit the ground running in the new year! In the past month and a half, we have launched a school scholarship program, significantly increased our involvement in local schools, added a new soccer team, and hosted a group of U.S. college soccer players to volunteer for a special week of activities. Challenges have come with this growth, but we are working through them as an organization.

The participants of Soccer Without Borders with a group of U.S. volunteers 

With the arrival of 15 female soccer players from the U.S. in early January, we held a weeklong  camp for the girls in Soccer Without Borders. Each morning, we spent two and a half hours at the soccer field coaching dynamic and fun soccer drills to the girls. After a break for lunch, the  girls came back to our office for an afternoon of team-building activities. The week culminated in a trip to Managua, where the college volunteers, as well as myself, played a friendly soccer match against the Nicaraguan women’s national team in their national stadium. It was a great chance for our participants to see female athletes playing competitively; we make an effort to show our girls as many female role models as possible.

After the camp and before the start of the girls’ school year, we began the application process for a school scholarship program in which Soccer Without Borders pays almost all of the costs associated with attending a public or private school. Our vision has always been to encourage education, but we are excited now to finally be able to offer direct educational aid to 14 of our participants! Three Nicaraguan staff members are taking on increased responsibilities in leading this scholarship program. Over my time here, it has been incredible to watch the Nicaraguan coaches continue to develop professionally and take on larger leadership roles in the program. 

I also have been able to develop during my time here. As a soccer coach, educator, and mentor to a group of adolescent girls, I have practiced and improved my skills in communication, motivation, and problem-solving. In large group situations, I have learned how to be a dynamic and engaging leader, while in 1-on-1 interactions I have grown as an empathetic listener and mentor. When I am not coaching or teaching my group of girls, I am involved in community outreach, including visiting schools, homes, and organizations. I have learned how a grassroots community organization works and developed skills in organizing community events and building community partnerships. Next year, I will start medical school and am confident that the skills I am developing in leadership, mentoring, Spanish, and community outreach are skills that I will carry forward with me into medical school and beyond. But for now, I am happy to have four more months in Nicaragua to improve my skills and to coach, teach, and have fun with my girls!




Futbol Sin Fronteras Launches Education and Scholarship Program

By: Cat Webster, Team Leader

Back to school is always an exciting time, and as schools opened up their doors last week, FSF Granada had even more to celebrate. Fourteen girls from the Mariposa Seniors, Estrellas, and FC Sweet Lake were selected in the first class of secondary school scholarship recipients. The selected girls are provided with a package of school supplies and uniforms, monthly tuition, and an advisor with whom they will meet twice weekly. The tuition payment also makes it possible for girls to switch schools, even to private schools or morning classes, freeing them up to participate further in SWB activities.

What's more, the benefits of this program extend past the fourteen participants selected. All girls will be able to trade attendance points for school supplies and uniforms in addition to soccer equipment. They will also have access to specific homework hours in our office, which provides access to computers, internet, and additional school and art supplies. While scholarships are currently offered only to girls in secondary school, the younger teams are aware and excited about the program as well, and are eager to earn their "beca" in the future. 

Coach Helen with the becadas during study hoursThe education program has been in the imagination and planning phase for several years, but was only recently brought to life by an incredibly generous donation. Program leadership collaborated to identify the issues that girls struggle against when trying to stay in school, and researched other local and international scholarship programs to see how the program can effectively combat these issues.  They used their local contacts to find the best way to go about uniform selection and tuition payment, and worked together to distribute applications, hold parent meetings, and select the best participants. The scholarship criteria focused both on the participant’s economic need and on her qualities as an “active and complete participant” in FSF- dedicated, humble, honest, and hardworking (among many others).

Mariposa Sr. coach Cesar Morales begins a new role as Education Program Coordinator.  Coaches Hassell Chavez and Helen Ramirez will serve as the advisors to scholarship recipients.  Each will meet with seven becadas (scholarship recipients) weekly, and will provide homework assistance and counseling on potential school issues. Their unique position as former participants turned coaches will help them to be strong role models for the girls, and we look forward to watching them grow in this role. Finally, Coach Estefan Bolanos will lead the uniform and school supply exchanges, and all coaches will play a role in raising awareness about the program as well as selecting future recipients.

This program represents Soccer Without Borders’ increased focus on our participants’ growth as students as well as citizens and soccer players and we are so grateful for the opportunity to deepen our educational impact, while playing a larger role in supporting academic success! 


"With education, I want to be a good citizen and be able to help other young people." -Jacqueline (Estrellas),14 years old, Grade 9no

"As an adult, I want to be a pediatrician and with education I want to acquire knowledge, habits, and skills that will allow me to develop into a more comprehensive person." - Michelle (Sweet Lake), 12 years old, Grade 8vo


Partnership in Kampala: Opportunity for SWB Participants

By: Amy Howard, Team Leader 

SWB Uganda has had a few very exciting months! First, we moved into a new center that we are falling more in love with each day. Then, last month, we had a very fun and successful Youth Festival, where nearly 300 participants came out to enjoy! Most recently, we are VERY PROUD to say that through a partnership with Xavier Project in Kampala, Uganda, 16 of our participants have been chosen to receive scholarships to attend school! In December, over 50 of our participants - majority being Congolese refugees - were selected to participate in a month-long intensive English program held by Xavier Project. During that month, our students attended school in Katwe, Kampala every day (Monday - Friday) to improve their English as much as possible. Many of the top teachers from around the area were leading the classes. At the end of January, all of the students took an English exam to find out what they had learned so far. Out of the 20 scholarships available by Xavier Project, 16 of the recipients were from Soccer Without Borders Uganda. Xavier Project chose the recipients based on test scores, behavior, effort, and potential. We are so proud of our students as they started their education this past week at various schools in the Nsambya area. It is amazing to see the way meaningful local partnerships can work together to create opportunities and strengthen the community.

For more information on the Xavier Project, visit their website.


Elia and Edward, two scholarship recipients


SWB to speak at "Soccer As the Beautiful Game" conference

Hofstra University will award an honorary degree to Brazilian and New York Cosmos soccer legend Pelé for his humanitarian work and contributions to the sport during an international conference examining the historical, political, and economic impact of the game, Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz announced this week.

Pelé, named “The Player of the 20th Century” by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, and one of the “100 Most Influential People of the Century” by TIME magazine, also will be honored with a plaque in Hofstra University’s soccer stadium.  Pelé is the honorary president of the New York Cosmos, the team he led to a championship almost 40 years ago. The Cosmos are the reigning 2013 NASL champions and play at Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium.


The conference, “Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity & Politics”, will bring together more than 100 scholars, journalists, players and coaches from 25 countries on April 10-13, 2014 for one of the largest academic symposia ever convened about the sport in the United States.  It is being presented in collaboration with more than a dozen academic and sports institutions, including the Cosmos, the Consulates General of South Africa and Brazil in New York and the United States Soccer Federation, which last year celebrated its 100th  anniversary. Hofstra History professors Dr. Brenda Elsey and Dr. Stanislao Pugliese are co-directors.

Topics will include women and soccer; soccer and philanthrophy; the semiotics, history and governance of the game; how the sport is represented in art and literature; and its influence on religion and cultural identity.

Read more and join SWB at the Soccer and Philanthropy panel on Saturday, April 12, 11:30am-1:00pm.