On June 23, Soccer Without Borders' coach Hel Say will speak alongside U.S. Women's National Team members Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe at the Beyond Soccer Player Perspectives Panel in San Francisco. Powered by streetfootballworld, the Beyond Soccer Series is an evening of collaboration, discussion, and connection that will explore the power of soccer to break down barriers and affect sustainable change in communities worldwide. The player perspectives panel with focus on the barriers to equal participation facing girls and women.
Hel Say, a head coach and former captain at Soccer Without Borders Oakland, grew up in a refugee camp on the Burma/Thailand border with very few opportunities for females to play sport of any kind. Ethnically Karen, a minority group that has faced persecution by the Burmese and Thai governments, she arrived in the United States as a 15-year old refugee. Hel Say joined SWB Oakland's high school girls' team, growing to become the team's leader and captain over the next three years. Upon graduation from high school, Hel Say began coaching with Soccer Without Borders, and is now studying and playing at Merritt College while serving as a Up2Us Sports Coach Across America coach at SWB Oakland. She is a tremendous role model to newcomer girls in the program from all cultural backgrounds, most of whom are playing soccer for the first time.