It is with great pride that we announce the promotion of longtime coaches and program leaders Veronica Balladares and Cesar Morales to Co-Directors. Veronica Balladares was one of our five original coaches in 2008, bringing a wealth of expertise and support for our girls as a professional Psychologist. One of the most well-respected female players in Granada, Veronica was a mainstay defender and captain of the Granada premier team during its time in the Premier Division. Veronica has completed several SWB coaching courses, and this Spring received her FIFA youth coaching certification. Until now, she had worked with SWB part-time as coach of Team Sweet Lake while holding a full-time job with the Ministry of Health. We are ecstatic that she now joins SWB in a full-time capacity. Already, she was selected to participate in the streetfootballworld-led State Department Exchange between the U.S., Nicaragua, and Colombia, and will continue to serve as the SWB representative to the streetfootballworld network in Latin America. Cesar Morales has been a part of the program since the very beginning, attending our first-ever coaches clinic in 2008. A well-known figure in the soccer community in Granada, he is team captain and center midfielder in the local men's league for his team FC Carillera. Cesar has coached the program's Mariposa Senior team for 4 years, and in 2014 became the Education Program Coordinator and Bookkeeper. He holds a college degree in accounting, and is a certified "contador" in Granada. In addition to his extensive administrative and financial skills, he is nearly fluent in English and continues to invest in professional development through participation in leadership courses, a U.S. State Department SportsUnited Exhange, and most recently the SWB Program Leaders' Retreat in Boston. For 7 years, SWB Granada has been a collaboration between the USA and Nicaragua, creating opportunities for girls on the field and off, including pathways to educational advancement. As someone who was there from the beginning, each year has brought challenges, successes, failures, and endless learning (Read more on this in our recent Huffington Post piece: "An Untold Story: Learning to Fail Forward"). This transition of leadership to local Nicaraguan Directors marks an incredible milestone and new challenge for the collaboration. Cesar and Veronica are up for the challenge, and have already hit the ground running, leading a busy January schedule and preparing for the new school year in which SWB will have 28 secondary school scholarship recipients.
Read more about the official celebration in Granada, January 31.