Granada, Nicaragua



“Going into this program I had no idea what to expect, but when I arrived in Granada I soon realized that my one week stay was going to be better than I had ever hoped... I cannot think of the past summer without reminiscing of this amazing experience.”  - SWB Review on

SWB’s Seminar & Culture Exchange is a week-long cultural immersion experience in which high school aged youth (14-18 years old) from different backgrounds are able to come together and learn from one another through the medium of soccer. Students on this trip will learn, first-hand, how the power of sport can be harnessed to create safe spaces, build individuals’ confidence, and provide a platform for both personal and community growth. During the week, the group will experience, learn about, and engage in a new community and culture. 

Components of the Seminar & Culture Exchange include playing and coaching soccer, cultural events, seminars, and peer exchange. Students will have the opportunity to participate in SWB Granada’s after-school programming, assist SWB coaches in outreach to local elementary schools, and take part in various seminars and workshops intended to introduce them to the city of Granada and Nicaraguan culture. 


2018 DATES: July 28 - August 5, 2018


This trip is full!


Seminar & Culture Exchange is a week-long cultural immersion experience and learning opportunity at Soccer Without Borders' program in Granada, Nicaragua. The program, called Fútbol Sin Fronteras (FSF) in Spanish, provides opportunities on and off the field through soccer teams, tutoring, workshops, team-building activities, access to academic scholarships and school supplies, leadership development, and access to athletic clothing and equipment. Through our year-round program and annual camps, girls ages 5-20 develop key skills and a sense of belonging that supports their pursuit of growth, inclusion, and personal success. In a place where safety nets, support systems, membership and inclusively are rare, FSF has become a safe and welcoming space for girls.


The central Granada program is divided into teams by age and based out of our community center, “Tres Pisos” on Santa Lucia Street. Teams include Las sin nombres (5-6 years old), Las Piratas (7-9 years old), Las Leonas (9-11 year olds), FC Fenix (12-14 year olds), Las Estrellas (13-18 year olds) and FC Sweetlake (15-20 year olds). We also have an expansion site in a low-resource area/neighborhood of Granada called “La Villa”, where we have 3 additional teams: FC Arcoiris (ages 6-11), La Maravilla (ages 12-15), and Las Guerreras (ages 16-18). Each team has a unique group of Nicaraguan staff and volunteer coaches who lead them in on-field and off-field activities throughout the year. Once in Granada, we will provide a much more extensive description of the year-round program and themes, but you can check out the program webpage for a deeper understanding of our work in Nicaragua.



Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, and the second poorest in the Western hemisphere: 48% of the population lives below the poverty line. Granada is located an hour south of Nicaragua’s capital, Managua and its international airport (MGA). A former Spanish colony, Granada is a small city located on Lake Nicaragua, widely known for its colonial-era structure and architecture as well as a burgeoning tourist industry. Spanish is the primary language and proficient local English speakers are rare. Schools in Granada are generally half-day, with a majority of youth dropping out prior to graduation from secondary school. Only 48.9% of youth go on to secondary school (UNICEF, 2013). As a result, there is a huge need for youth-centered programs to provide positive learning opportunities during out-of-school time, and create support networks to ensure that students graduate, stay healthy, and reach their full potential.


Picture highlights from past Seminar & Culture Exchange trips.

TEAM Camp1.jpg


The Seminar & Culture Exchange is an opportunity for current high school students, ages 14 to 18 years old (students must be in high school at the time they submit their application). Student-athletes and soccer fans are welcome and encouraged to apply! There will be a lot of soccer playing during the trip, including organized matches with FSF players and one of Nicaragua’s national teams (U15 and/or U17). The size of the group typically ranges from 14-16 students. 


Not in high school and over 18? Join SWB for our annual TEAM Camp in Granada, Nicaragua or annual Youth Festival in Kampala, Uganda!



During your time in Granada you will wear many hats. You’ll be a player and coach, a student and teacher, and finally, a peer, guest, and friend. The specific components of the Seminar & Culture Exchange include:


  • Playing & coaching soccer: You will also have many chances to play, as a program participant, in Fútbol Sin Fronteras’ (FSF) after school programming alongside regular FSF players, FSF coaches, and with one another. Trip participants will also receive a mini-coaching course on our gym class curriculum and have the chance to work as coaches during visits to gym classes in local elementary schools, sharing their love of soccer with elementary age students.

  • Cultural events: Trip participants will take part in activities throughout the week that introduce you to the culture of Nicaragua. Activities will include things such as cooking classes, Spanish lessons, dance lessons, and tour(s) of local attractions. Trip participants will also stay in family homestays during their time in Granada, allowing you to immerse yourself further in the culture of Nicaragua. 

  • Seminars: One of the unique aspects of this trip is the opportunity to reflect on the experience in the moment. There will be two to three discussion-based seminars during the week that will create a space for shared reflection and learning about the context in which SWB operates, concepts in international development, and ways to, “get active and give back” with the help of Positive Tracks (explained later in the packet).

  • Peer exchange: Our Soccer Without Borders program in Nicaragua includes much more than just soccer. Our participants have weekly educational and team-building activities, on and off the field. Trip participants will have several opportunities to join in these activities, engage with their peers, and get to know life as a teenager in Granada.


This is a sample schedule of the week’s events. Student-athletes that join FSF for the Seminar & Culture Exchange will be provided with a final schedule prior to the trip.


Saturday: Arrivals to MGA airport, meet host families, group dinner with FSF staff


Sunday: Orientation for trip participants, Get to know the FSF and program staff, fiesta at FSF community center, community dinner   


Monday: Morning Coaching Seminar/Spanish class, Activity with FSF staff, Lunch & tour of the city, pick-up soccer, dinner with homestay families

Tuesday - Thursday: Morning gym class visit to local school, Lunch and team-building activity, afternoon activity with FSF participants, dinner and cultural activities in the evening including a tour of the mercado, chocolate-making workshops, salsa dancing lesson, Merced tower visit, hammock factory tour, cooking lesson


Friday: Morning soccer session and camp closing, afternoon soccer game, community dinner 

Saturday: Boat tour of the Granada Isletas, free time, souvenir shopping, closing dinner and reflection


Sunday: Departures



Each trip participant is responsible for the following:

  1. $100 Trip Deposit (non-refundable)

  2. $500 Trip Fee 

  3. $500 Contribution to the FSF program (we encourage you to fundraise to cover this contribution!)

  4. Collecting 50lbs (or one checked bag) of new or gently used equipment to donate to FSF in Granada

  5. Purchasing your own plane tickets, tourist entry card ($10), and any travel medical insurance or immunizations you may choose

$100 Trip Deposit: Upon acceptance to the 2018 Seminar & Culture Exchange, each participant must send their (non-refundable) Trip Deposit to Soccer Without Borders in order to confirm their spot on the trip. 

$500 Trip Fee: In order to support a week of activities and provide a comprehensive immersion experience, each trip participant must pay a $500 Trip Fee. The $500 Trip Fee is due on June 1, 2018.


During your stay in Granada, your $500 Trip Fee covers all costs associated with your in-country experience including:

  • Housing: We organize homestays for all trip participants in the same “barrio” (neighborhood), with families who are a part of the SWB community. Our goal is for your homestay to give you a sense of life and community in Nicaragua, while providing a safe space for you to rest and recover from the daily events.

  • Food: We provide three meals and snacks for trip participants every day. Our goal is to introduce you to Nicaraguan food, investing in locally run restaurants and vendors.

  • Beverages: We provide purified water for your water bottles at activities and in your homestay and at FSF's community center, as well as morning coffee.

  • In-country transportation: We provide private transportation to and from the Managua airport on July 28 and August 5, as well as to and from group entertainment activities that are outside of walking distance.

  • Per Diem: You will receive a small per diem in local currency to use throughout the week to purchase additional snacks, sports drinks, incidental items, etc.

  • FSF T-shirt: You will receive a FSF Granada t-shirt.

$500 Contribution to the FSF Program: In addition to the Trip Fee, each participant is expected to fundraise a minimum of $500 USD in support of the Granada program. Fundraising is due to SWB by July 15, 2018. The purpose of this requirement is for each trip participant to invest in the program and match the cost of his/her experience with a contribution to the program, supporting FSF to serve girls in Granada year-round.

We encourage trip participants to cover the $500 Contribution to the program through fundraising! By fundraising, you have the opportunity to engage family, friends, and teammates to help you reach the $500 (or even more!) contribution, which will make a huge difference to the program’s ability to provide year-round programming. An easy way to fundraise is to set up a personal fundraising page on Crowdrise (like this one) describing your trip, and then share it with your networks! Once accepted as a part of the Seminar & Culture Exchange group, SWB will share out additional resources and tips for raising the $500 Contribution via fundraising.


Equipment Donations: As a trip participant, we also require that you bring 1 checked bag (approximately 50 lbs) of equipment donations with you to Granada. Each participant is responsible for packing and carrying their collected equipment with them to Nicaragua. Prior to the trip, SWB will send out a list of specific, high-need items or ‘wish list’ items for the program. 


Your  of equipment donations can be collected in your local community or picked up from one of our SWB equipment storage locations (SWB usually has large supplies of donated equipment at our US locations if you still have room left in your luggage). Colleges, high schools, local clubs, and your own teammates are also great resources for collecting gently used equipment! 


Flights and tourist card: Trip participants are responsible for booking and purchasing their own flights to/from Nicaragua. The cost of your flights to and from Nicaragua is NOT included in any of the above costs. Typical airfare to Managua, Nicaragua from the U.S. ranges from $450-$800 roundtrip. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines all fly regularly to Managua via U.S. cities including Miami, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta. We ask that participants do NOT use Spirit Airlines, due to their late-night arrivals and departures. Participants must share their flight itineraries with SWB by June 1, 2018


Upon arrival, you will need to purchase a tourist card at passport control in MGA airport for $10 USD, which grants you permission to stay in Nicaragua for up to 90 days without any prior application.  If you have a passport from a country other than the U.S., visit this website to check on your requirements.


Vaccinations and health insurance

No vaccinations are required for Nicaragua but we recommend that you visit the CDC Travel website to see what is recommended and speak with your doctor before going to Nicaragua.


If your personal medical insurance does not cover international travel, we recommend that you consider short-term travel medical insurance for your trip. Past participants have used Patriot Travel but there are many available options. SWB does NOT provide travel medical insurance, but should the need arise, Soccer Without Borders is fortunate to have a partnership with Global Rescue for Medical Advisory Services (this is not insurance). They also provide a range of additional services including security and evacuation, at a discount to SWB trip participants. Mention SWB if you choose to purchase a membership! 


Other expenses: The cost of gifts and additional travel on your own are not included in your contribution, and will depend on the participant. Some participants have spent as little as $20, and others as much as $100, depending on how many gifts they buy. Some typical gifts and prices: Personalized maracas ($5), awesome hammocks ($25), vases ($7), bracelets ($1-3), t-shirts ($8). Phone and internet to communicate with friends and family is cheap (5 cents/minute phone, 1 dollar/hour internet), however we also have internet in our program office that trip participants will be able to use at designated times throughout the week.



Familiarity with Spanish is encouraged but not required! The group will reflect a range of Spanish levels, and there will be many opportunities to learn and improve your Spanish during this experience!



Granada is generally a safe city and SWB has become a mainstay member of the community. Safety is a top priority for SWB; we will go over precautions and other safety recommendations at orientation, but you should feel assured that it is a wonderful and welcoming place!

During the week, we will always travel together as a group. SWB also sends 1-2 Trip Coordinators (SWB USA Staff members) to accompany the group of visiting students athletes on this trip, serve as translators and guides, and stay with the group (including in the homestays) at all times.


It’s hot and humid and we will be playing and walking a lot! Come prepared to be in the sun, dust, and heat (90 degrees+) for prolonged periods. It cools off some at night but homes and the community center are not air conditioned. The trip takes place during Nicaragua's rainy season, meaning it will likely rain on many afternoons during the trip. A water bottle, light rain jacket, sunblock, and a baseball hat are essential items and we'll share a packing list with trip participants prior to departure!


All trip participants must sign a waiver indicating that they understand the risks associated with international work and will not hold Soccer Without Borders accountable for any injuries, accidents or loss of property that occurs while working internationally. Signed waivers are due by June 1, 2018.

This trip is full!

Check out a video perspective of our TEAM Camp in Granada!


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