Earlier this year Soccer Without Borders Uganda, alongside eight peer organizations from the streetfootballworld network and with support from Common Goal, launched the first ever Global Goal 5 Accelerator (GG5). As this East Africa Accelerator begins to wrap up its ten-month long program, on another side of the world some Soccer Without Borders programs are just beginning their journey with the Accelerator.
SWB USA programs officially kicked off the start of the GG5 Accelerator on Friday, November 6 with a storytelling event: “If She Can See It, She Can Be It.” The event featured a wide range of speakers with a wide range of perspectives.
There was Christina Rodriguez, an assistant coach in Oakland, who spoke of her experience as often the only person of color on teams throughout her youth. There was SWB Advisor and Penn State Women’s Soccer Associate Head Coach Ann Cook, who shared her thoughts on the power of soccer as a vehicle for positive change. Cook said, “Soccer is an unbelievable tool, in the right hands and used the right way, to make change.” Other speakers — from players to coaches and beyond — lent their own unique perspectives as well, painting a portrait of the wide breadth and depth of the positive influence that soccer can have on the lives of girls and women.
Throughout the world, girls face barriers to equal education, health care, physical and emotional safety, and socialization. Sport is a means through which girls can gain physical, emotional, and psychological support, as well as confidence and community. Especially now, as women and girls are most adversely affected by COVID-19, it is important to continue to advance gender equality.
The Accelerator is designed to use soccer as a tool to advance Global Goal 5: Gender Equality. Soccer’s team atmosphere, widespread popularity, and physicality make it a unique vehicle through which girls and women can be educated and equipped to be active and engaged participants in their communities and the world. The SWB USA Accelerator aims to support coaches and female leaders to increase girls’ participation in programs, strengthen their own leadership skills, and build a more gender-inclusive Soccer Without Borders. Over the next 9 months, each of the 11 members of the Accelerator cohort will build a Gender Action Plan with specific, measureable commitments toward these goals in their local context.
“To be able to see and be a part of an organization that is driving the hard and necessary work of bringing gender equality into spaces that have always been dominated by men is inspiring and motivating,” says Oakland Program Coordinator and Accelerator cohort member Mackenzie Kingston. “I am at awe with the intention behind working and developing each level of girls leadership, from young girls on the field to women taking on higher roles in organizations, and am energized by getting the opportunity to work with and learn from some really incredible women through this process.”
Since its inception, SWB has prioritized providing opportunities for girls to achieve their goals both on and off the field. That prioritization has led to the training of hundreds of coaches and directly getting over 10,000 girls across the world into the game. The SWB USA and East Africa Accelerators are a part of a global movement to advance gender equality on the pitch, on the sidelines, in organizations, and in the media.
Watch the full video here, and follow the trajectory of the US Accelerator on our website and social media.