From our FAMILY coaching framework, to our Program Site Rubric, to our Hub Health Assessment, Soccer Without Borders has innovated new ways of codifying how to build inclusive sport environments at different altitudes with youth from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Our goals are intentionally broad; "success" will look different for participants in different circumstances, and we purposefully leave space for that. Rather than fixate on prescribing the ends, we focus on the means, from the training of our coaches, to the accessibility of our activities, to quality of our sessions, to the consistency of our implementation, and the safety of our interpersonal environment. We quantify this process-oriented approach into tools that demonstrate our progress and point to areas for improvement.
Theory of Change
Our evidence-based program design was born out of thousands of hours of programming, hundreds of conversations, and countless pages of research. We synthesized it all into a clear theory of change that puts young people at the center, surrounds them with supportive peers, coaches, and mentors, and draws a throughline from our inputs and activities to our vision of a more inclusive and equitable world, where all youth reach their inherent potential.
At the Coach Level:
The best coaches have the ability to make their team feel like family. Our 'FAMILY' Framework details over 40 specific, observable coach actions across 6 domains that create an inclusive environment that is healing-centered, linguistically-accessible, and skill-building. Created for and by SWB coaches by synthesizing best practices across all Hubs, this framework gives coaches specific guidance on how to create a safe, effective learning space for all youth, regardless of soccer experience, culture, or language level. It focuses on the "how" more than the "what", leaving plenty of space for autonomy and creativity.
Through self-assessments and observations, coaches practice the self-reflection necessary for continual improvement, applying different lenses to their coaching craft. This process does not only support coach learning and program quality, but it also ensures consistency between coaches and across locations. Our goal is that if you were to observe any Soccer Without Borders practice, anywhere in the world, you would see these key, evidence-based coach behaviors happening.
We quantify FAMILY Framework assessments into a four point scale that provides each coach with clear learning objectives, and identifies training needs for our coaching team as a whole.
The demeanor and approach of the coach in relation to the players during the session itself.
Includes the type of soccer and team-building activities, physical fitness, and skill-building components of the session
Those things that happen behind the scenes before and after the session to ensure it runs smoothly, is documented properly, and logistics are taken care of.
Individual and team identities that are fostered through an inclusive and welcoming environment.
The strategies used by the coach to ensure participants have opportunities to develop language skills, either through direct language development activities, or through the coach's facilitation of other activities.
The way that the coach builds relationships with young people and fosters an environment for other positive relationships to form, meeting kids where they are and prioritizing their needs, questions, and suggestions.
Take a closer look at the FAMILY Framework
Interested in Training on the FAMILY Framework?
There is no exact formula that, when mixed just so and delivered in the perfect dosage will yield perfectly consistent results with every child in every scenario. Kids react to so many variables, and go through so many ups and downs on the path to becoming who they are. That is part of the beauty of growing up, and what makes defining and measuring "success" so complex.
- Mary (McVeigh) Connor, SWB Executive Director, from Lessons Learned from Standardized Testing, Huffington Post