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  • Soccer Without Borders

Free Workshop Series: How Soccer Can Support Newcomer Afghan Youth



Cover for Workshop Series

Soccer Without Borders is pleased to announce a new virtual workshop series entitled How Soccer Can Support Newcomer Afghan Youth. This free, three-part series is designed for refugee service providers and resettlement agencies, community-based youth programs, soccer clubs and coaches, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about how sport can create belonging, particularly in times of transition and displacement.

Since August 2021, the United States has evacuated tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, thousands of whom are still living in limbo at military bases awaiting resettlement. Across the world, nations have welcomed hundreds of thousands displaced Afghans in the last year. According to UNHCR, the displacement crisis in Afghanistan is one of the largest and most protracted situations in its seven decade history.


Soccer Without Borders (SWB) has been supporting newcomer refugee and immigrant youth across the United States and Uganda since 2007, leveraging one of the world's most universal languages - soccer - to create a sense of belonging and home. SWB programs serve youth ages 6-20 who hail from over 75 countries of origin, including Afghanistan. Many SWB participants have experienced sudden displacement, violence, and trauma in their journey, and face new challenges upon arrival in their new community. "Right away when you come into the team context, you start to feel a sense of community and a sense of family that is vitally important for [newcomer youth]," shares SWB Founder Ben Gucciardi

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In partnership with Laureus Sport for Good's SportsLab and with support from the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport (CHJS), Soccer Without Borders Founder Ben Gucciardi and Managing Director of Programs Lindsey Whitford will be joined by CHJS's Megan Bartlett to facilitate the sessions. Together, they bring over 40 years of experience in sport-based youth development and trauma-informed coaching.


"From 22 years of supporting sport for development programs across the world, we know that sport has the power to support children and young people in difficult circumstances," says Dr. Morten Schmidt, Global Director of Programmes and Grants at Laureus Sport for Good. "Witnessing the recent events in Afghanistan with large numbers of people fleeing the country and ending up far from home in uncertain settings, we are humbled by the work and support that organizations like Soccer Without Borders provide, and it was an easy call for us when we offered to support this trauma sensitive coach training sessions and lend our banner - Laureus SPORTSLab - to this series, " added Schmidt.


Coach and player look across the field

To register for one or all of the workshop sessions (note that you must register separately for each session). All sessions are 90 minutes:


Workshop 1: Program Designs for Welcoming Refugee Youth

Wednesday, February 23, 11:00am Eastern Time

Refresh on the basics of Afghan resettlement, learn about four different options for program design, and listen to members of the Afghan refugee community discuss their experiences.


Workshop 2: Best Practices in Trauma-Informed Coaching

Wednesday, March 2, 11:00am Eastern Time

Learn what research can teach us about the brain science of trauma and how sport can play an important role in healing, with experts from the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport


Workshop 3: Inclusive Team and Program Culture for Afghan Arrivals

Wednesday, March 16, 11:00am Eastern Time

Fill your toolkit with routines and activities designed to make youth feel comfortable and engaged on the soccer field, building a positive team culture and inclusive playing experience.


Download the flier to share with others:

How Soccer Can Support Newcomer Afghan Youth
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