Each year, the Beyond Sport Awards supported by Comic Relief recognize "the standout work of organizations from across the globe who are using sport as a means to create positive social impact." This year's competition received over 250 entries from 55 countries in 64 different sports. The shortlist narrows the field to 42 organizations in 11 categories, from Best New Innovation, to Sport for Conflict Resolution, to Corporate Citizenship Campaign of the Year, and more. We are humbled to be selected as one of five finalists in the category of Sport for Social Inclusion for our work using soccer as a tool for integration and welcoming among refugee, asylee, and immigrant youth, alongside organizations from Malawi, Colombia, and the UK.
Over the last ten years, Soccer Without Borders has used soccer as a tool for social inclusion in 11 countries on four continents, with a focus on engaging newcomer refugee, asylee, and immigrant youth, especially girls. The soccer field is one of the few places where newcomer youth immediately feel confident, counted, and like they can express themselves and contribute. Youth enter Soccer Without Borders at varying levels of soccer ability, English ability, and comfort in their communities, making flexibility and innovation key. While soccer is central, athletic sessions are complemented by wrap-around services and activities including academic support, language instruction, team-building, civic engagement, and cultural exchange. This balanced approach creates a powerfully influential environment that is focused on the development of the whole person over many years. This creates a feeling that goes beyond team: SWB becomes family.
To be named a finalists alongside such incredible organizations working in such unique cultural contexts using sport as a vehicle for positive change is an honor and a privilege. We look forward to learning from all of the finalists across categories at the Beyond Sport Summit in October.