"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen" - John Wooden
Soccer Without Borders strives to harness the potential of soccer to foster mutual respect, build community, and promote peace. Last year, Coach Bruno and the SWB Boston middle school boys' team began a special pre-game tradition that has been able accomplish this. Inspired by a ritual often performed before professional soccer matches, the tradition involves SWB captains giving a gift to the opposing team before every home game during the coin toss to welcome them to SWB’s home field.
Recently, the tradition has inspired others. During this past Saturday’s middle school boys’ game, SWB played Westford, a nearby town they had played and shared their tradition with this past fall. During the coin toss, when the referee called captains, SWB captains gave Westford a SWB flag and told them: “Welcome to our field. This is a gift from SWB and we are happy to play with you!” This time Westford came prepared to reciprocate the gesture, gifting SWB a Westford jacket.
This unique pre-game display of sportsmanship set the tone of the game. Though neither team technically won in a thrilling back-and-forth match that ended in a tie of 3-3, it was clear that both teams had won. Fair play and mutual respect had prevailed, ensuring that both teams had fun no matter the result of the game.
After the handshake, the teams took a group photo together and exchanged words of appreciation. Both teams left the field feeling grateful of having played each other. The players and coaches were not the only ones impacted by this rare display of sportsmanship: in the post-game report, the referee remarked that “it was the best sportsmanship I've seen all season.”