Introducing Equity as a Core Value at SWB
Last year, Soccer Without Borders released a statement of solidarity with efforts seeking justice for Black communities. Like many organizations, companies, and individuals, we felt it was essential to make our commitment public, contributing to the collective moment and creating a greater sense of accountability. In that statement, we said: “In soccer, the average player spends less than 5% of the game with the ball. The outcome of the match relies much less on what you do when you have the ball and everyone is watching, and much more on what you do without it, when you think no one is watching.”
Today, we are sharing some of the ways that we’ve been working off the ball to not only advance racial justice within ourselves and our programs, but also to build a Soccer Without Borders that authentically reflects the inclusive world we envision. Every September 21 we celebrate the International Day of Peace, a day that observes 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire around the world. But peace is not achieved solely through the absence of violence. It requires valuing every person’s humanity and seeking a more equitable world.
Therefore, in honor of Peace Day 2021, we are proud to announce today that Soccer Without Borders has named Equity as a fourth organizational core value. In doing so, we aim to advance Equity in ourselves, our structures, our systems, our partners, and our communities. We value and seek best practices for equitable access and opportunities, investment, representation, power, and voice.
For more than a decade, our three core values of Authenticity, Process-Orientation, and a Focus on the Whole Person have grounded our work in the communities we serve, created a culture of continuous learning, and invited young people to define success for themselves. As an organization working across countries, states, and communities with different resources, and with youth from over 70 countries of origin, our global family brings a wide range of perspectives, deep diversity, experiences, and needs. Building an entity that values all voices and contributions requires an enthusiastic commitment to listening, learning, and iteration.
Our core values are not just words on a website, they guide our every action. They influence our policies, practices, and program design every day. Equity presented itself as a core value. The commitment was already there, but by elevating its status and putting it at the center, we now have more energy focused on converting that commitment into action. We are unlocking new ideas, and making sure that every action we take externally is matched with equal fervor by actions taken internally; what we say must reflect what we do.
We invite you to explore how Equity is showing up across Soccer Without Borders, driven by our dynamic staff and supported by our Board of Directors. We will continue to work off the ball, in seen and unseen ways, to advance our mission and build a more inclusive and equitable world through soccer.
Mary Connor, Co-Founder, Soccer Without Borders