Inter-American Women's Soccer Exchange
February 23-March 3, 2013
Soccer Without Borders (“SWB”) is teaming up with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (“ECA”) SportsUnited Division this winter for the Inter-American Women’s Soccer Exchange (“Exchange”). The Exchange is perhaps the most comprehensive effort by the U.S. to support the growth of girls' and women's soccer in Nicaragua. Read on for details of Phase One of the Exchange, as well as a complete list of players' and coaches' bios! You can also read the official Press Release here.
In partnership with the U.S. Embassy of Managua and FENIFUT, Phase One of the Exchange kicks off on February 24th in Granada, Nicaragua. The Exchange joins together a 16-member team of recently graduated U.S. Women's NCAA Soccer Players with the growing girls' and women's soccer community of Nicaragua. Ann Cook, Mary McVeigh and Maren Rojas, a trio at the forefront of women's soccer in the U.S., both as players and coaches, will lead the U.S. participants. They will be assisted by Lindsey Whitford , the SWB Granada Program Coordinator and a former NCAA student-athlete at Lewis & Clark University. The roster of players includes an impressive array of former NCAA student-athletes from across the United States. Players span all three NCAA Divisions and eight NCAA Conferences: The Big 10, The Big South, Conference USA, The Ivy League, Middle Atlantic Conference, New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Northwest Conference, and PAC 12. As a group, participants represent ten elite U.S. colleges and universities, and hail from 10 different states.
Exchange players and coaches will take their experiences and talents to three Nicaraguan cities, leading a series of skills clinics and coaching clinics with a focus on engaging girls, team-building, skill-building, practice design, and coaching strategies for Nicaragua's young female soccer players and leaders. The Exchange will also feature two showcase games between the Nicaraguan U-20 Women's National Team and the Exchange Team, to be held at the National Stadiums in Diriamba and Managua on Tuesday, February 26 and Thursday, February 28.
Kelly Boswell Cherry Hill, NJ. Bucknell
Sarah Bromley La Jolla, CA. Dartmouth College
Alyssa Budros Traverse City, MI. Charleston South
Brianna Garcia Babylon, NY. Penn State University
Ellery Gould Sandwich, MA. Bowdoin College
Madeleine Harper Portland, OR. Lewis & Clark
Bailey Morgan San Antonio, TX. Tufts University
Kathryn Nathan Pembroke, MA. Amherst College
Lauren O'Connor Dudley, MA. Tufts University
Aly Robinson Cumberland, ME. Lewis & Clark
Myra Sack Wynnewood, PA. Dartmouth College
Leah Sipe Lewisburg, PA. Messiah College
Ahsha Smith Oakland, CA. UCLA
Meredith Smith Englewood, CO. Colorado College
Sarah Stanczyk Grosse Point, MI. University of Michigan
Kelsey Wise Fairview, TX. Colorado College
Ann Cook Head Coach
Maren Rojas Head Coach
Mary McVeigh Assistant Coach
Lindsey Whitford Assistant Coach
To date, Nicaraguan girls’ participation in soccer remains underwhelming compared to their male peers, with economic and cultural barriers consistently thwarting strides made in the direction of a more supported National Team, consistent playing opportunities, proper coaching and equipment, and a safe space to play.
During the five years that Soccer Without Borders has worked in Nicaragua, the growth of girls’ sports has been steady but slow, with still just one division of a Women’s National League compared to four on the men’s side. Locally in Granada, a girls' youth division has yet to develop in the ever-expanding Granada recreational league. With boys’ divisions from under-13 to multiple divisions for men, girls’ teams are forced to choose between the single division of the women's league, or enter youth divisions on the boys’ side. Last year's women's league had just three teams, two of which were entered by SWB. School-based teams are virtually non-existent. No law similar to Title IX in the US exists in Nicaragua, so limited resources for sport and other extra-curriculars are easily divided unequally.
More about the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division: The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Division leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports. Under its International Sports Programming Initiative, public and private U.S. based non-profit organizations may submit proposals to address one of four themes: Youth Sports Engagement, Sport for Social Change, Sport and Disability, and Sport and Health. Since 2002, the division has awarded 86 grants to U.S. non-profits to conduct programs in 57 countries around the world.