OAKLAND TEAM BIOGRAPHIES //
Ben Gucciardi, Founder and Oakland Director || Oakland, CA
Ben Gucciardi, the Founder of Soccer Without Borders, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for World Refugee Day 2015. An award that reflects Ben’s unique expertise in the field of refugee integration and youth development, his work at the city, national, and global levels has been recognized and replicated. Ben’s career began with his master’s degree in Global Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in 2006, the same year that he launched Soccer Without Borders. Spending his undergraduate years at Lehigh as well, Ben captained the nationally-ranked NCAA Division 1 Lehigh men’s soccer team. Ben went on to play semi-professional soccer with the San Francisco Seals while developing his skills as a coach and growing SWB in Oakland and around the world. In 2014, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America honored Ben with the Jerry Yeagley Award for Personal Service. In addition to his experience on the field, Ben has worked extensively in the fields of coaching and youth development, acting as the Girls' Sports Coordinator and Coaching Coordinator at the Jamestown Community Center in the Mission District of San Francisco. He has studied conflict resolution, interactive theatre, team building, and methods of teaching mindfulness practices to youth. Ben has coached youth ages 5-21 at a variety of skill levels, and is currently a Head Coach within SWB Oakland.
Ben has consulted for leading sports based youth-development organizations in the U.S., Europe, Zambia and South Africa, including Coaching Corps, Women Win, Amandla EduFootball, and Beyond Sport Inc.. He has been a featured presenter at SOCAP, the Urban Soccer Symposium, the Borah Symposium, and the Beyond Sport Summit, among other local events. In addition to his responsibilities with SWB, Ben serves on the Advisory Board for the Baker Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity at Lehigh in Bethlehem, PA. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese in addition to knowing basic French, and resides in Berkeley, CA.
Carson McFadden, Senior Program Coordinator || Oakland, CA
After starting as a volunteer in the spring of 2015, Carson came on as a coach that November and then as full time staff in January of 2016. Even as a volunteer, he felt compelled by the mission of SWB and formed lasting relationships with the staff and participants, eventually leading to his current position of Program Coordinator and Head Coach of the U14 boys team and U17 boys team. Carson studied English Writing and Journalism at Manchester University, captaining the Men's soccer team, before coming to the Bay Area to volunteer with a nonprofit working in housing and other services for families and persons experiencing homelessness. Carson lives in Oakland and is very excited to continue his work with SWB as the program continues to grow in the Bay Area.
Keith Drury, Program Coordinator || Oakland, CA
Keith joined Soccer Without Borders in January of 2018. Originally from Maine, he attended Colorado College where he studied History and played on the Men’s Varsity Soccer team. Since graduating he has taught English in China, worked for a nonprofit focused on international exchange programs, and has also worked in construction and as a commercial fisherman. Keith is inspired by the sense of community fostered by SWB Oakland’s staff and participants. When not on the pitch, he can be found hiking or being taught to surf by his fellow coaches.
Christian Ruiz, Program Coordinator || Oakland, CA
Christian started his Soccer Without Borders experience as a volunteer through his sociology of education course at the University of California, Berkeley. Christian continued to volunteer following his coursework and eventually came on as the head coach with SWB Oakland’s U19 Castlemont Boys Team in March of 2016. Christian graduated with his Bachelor's in Philosophy at UC Berkeley in May, 2017. What inspires Christian the most is being able to say that he has countless brothers and sisters to play soccer with and that they can empower each other through a uniting language of love, positivity, and respect.
Eric Cortez, Program Coordinator || Oakland, CA
Bio & Photo coming soon!
Maddy Boston, Girls Program Coordinator || Oakland, CA
Maddy started volunteering with SWB in 2016, and came on as a full-time coordinator in 2017. Before joining the SWB team, Maddy worked for a couple years in Boston City Hall’s Technology and Innovation department, and completed her Bachelor's in Political Science/African Studies at Middlebuy College, where she also played Varsity soccer for four years. Maddy’s interest in Sports Based Youth Development across cultures has led her to work abroad at several international SBYD organizations, including Moving the Goalpost (Kenya), and SALT Academy (Cambodia). She brings to the SWB team a life-long passion for soccer, and a growing understanding of how Gender, Development, and Sport intersect. Working with diverse communities and in different contexts has cemented her curiosity in how sport can be used as a powerful tool towards gender equality. Maddy feels grateful to work with SWB as Oakland's Impact Coordinator.
Omar Ramirez, Site Coordinator || Oakland, CA
Originally from Leon, Mexico, Omar moved to the United States in 2005, settling in Oakland with his family. After meeting Ye-Htet Soe, another SWB coach, Omar began volunteering and came on as a head coach in 2011. During his time as a coach, he has worked with every age group in SWB and currently works as the head coach of Oakland United—a team comprised of players from Oakland High School and Fremont High School—as well as assisting with the teams at Castlemont High School and Tennyson High School in Hayward. In 2014 and 2015, Omar attended the Global Action Initiatives Youth Leadership Program with the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace in Bradenton, Florida, learning alongside other young leaders from over 20 different countries around the world, furthering his understanding of the power sport in youth development. Omar has been playing soccer all his life and feels that Soccer Without Borders has helped him to develop special relationships with his players. “I see myself in the kids. I know what it’s like to come to a country where everything is new—the food, the people, language—and to have to adapt to a new lifestyle. For me, soccer was always there, and it always connected me with people and made me happy.”
Mackenzie Kingston, Girls Program Associate || Oakland, CA
Mackenzie joined the SWB Oakland team in August 2018 after moving from her hometown of Charlotte, Vermont where she coached for her local Soccer Club team. She recently graduated from Connecticut College where she played Varsity soccer and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioral Neuroscience. Her belief in the influential power of sport in the development of incomer youth are what drove her to seek out SWB. She now holds a full-time position as the Girls Program Associate and coach of the U12 and U14 Girls teams. She is also involved in equipment coordination and outreach and in the production of SWB Oakland events. She is extremely excited to work with the passionate, bold staff and energetic, inspiring participants of SWB.
Nyunt Khin, Head Coach || Oakland, CA
Born and raised in Thailand, Nyunt Khin first came to the United States in 2009 at the age of 11. After settling in Oakland with his family, Nyunt Khin quickly got connected with Soccer Without Borders and began playing soccer for the U14 team. As he grew as a player and young leader, Nuke began coaching at SWB Oakland's Summer Soccer Camp, and following his graduation from Street Academy in 2017, he took on a coaching role with Oakland's high school girls team. With experience playing for SWB for over eight years, Nuke is excited to take on a new team this year to continue to develop as a coach and leader. With his own SWB coaches acting as role models in his own life, he's eager to provide the same mentor ship to newer SWB participants.
Azaam Algahim, Assistant Coach || Oakland, CA
Bio coming soon!