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  • Soccer Without Borders

Jules Mayele Named Director of SWB Uganda

Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is thrilled to announce that Jules Mayele has been named Director of SWB Uganda! An alumnus of the program, Jules has been an integral part of our SWB Uganda hub since 2012 and has since been recognized as a Coaching Boys Into Men Expert Facilitator, Common Goal Youth Council member, Global Changemaker, and more.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jules moved to Kampala at the age of 16. Not only does he come to the role with vast experience from numerous leadership positions across the hub – working as a coach, communications professional, program manager, and much more – he also brings invaluable lived experience as a newcomer to the country he now calls home, allowing him to truly relate to the 450-plus refugee youth served by our Uganda-based hub each year.

As we congratulate Jules for his new position, he took time to share some reflections on what the role means to him:

Why do you think soccer is uniquely positioned to make a positive impact in the lives of newcomer youth? 

In 2011, I experienced something I had never imagined or thought of in my teenage years, I had to flee from my home country and seek refuge in Uganda. Upon arrival, life was completely hard and different. With a new and different culture and community here, soccer was the only thing familiar – it was one thing I had in common with the local people. Immediately after joining SWB Uganda, the program's English classes and youth soccer teams, I felt a sense of home again. Soon after, it was a fresh, wonderful new beginning. 

Playing the game gave me an opportunity and identity that I am very proud of. I believe so much in the power of soccer to affect positive social change, because without it, I wouldn’t have overcome the adversities and challenges I faced during my early days in Uganda including (but not limited to) the language barrier, isolation, lack of routine, and helplessness. Those experiences and opportunities in soccer are what continue to fuel me to want to give back to other disadvantaged young people facing obstacles to growth, personal success, and inclusion.

Can you share a little about your journey with SWB? 

After graduating from the SWB youth program, I volunteered as an English instructor and coach. I became an official staff member at SWB in 2013, and in my new role, I learned to support other young people like me. In my time as a staff member, I have accomplished a lot! In 2018, I became a Program Coordinator at SWB, managing the Education Program and supervising six staff members. From 2019-2021 I actively worked to support female leadership and empowerment through gender equity projects including Women Take the Lead, The Global Goal 5 Accelerator, the Kampala Girls League, and the Uganda Goal 5 Summit. In mid-2021, I also earned my University degree in Human Resource Management from Kampala University with a first-class degree. 

What excites you most about your new role as Uganda hub director?

SWB Uganda’s program model is anchored on youth leadership and development. As a young person attending this program 13 years ago, I owe a big debt to so many. I would like to share my heartfelt gratitude to all the coaches, team leaders like Nick Dreher, Coach Travis, Jill Flockhart, Amy Howard, my staff teammates, and the various program leaders over the years such as Jeremiah Lukeka, Steve Davis, and Raphael Murumbi for contributing and investing greatly to my growth. I am wholly grateful for their guidance, their immense commitment to the mission, and for making space to provide opportunities for youth to contribute and lead. 

Global displacement hit another soaring record last year in June, with over 100 million displaced. My host country Uganda is currently home to nearly 1.6 million refugees, the majority being children and youth. Youth, and refugee youth more specifically, are some of the most forgotten people in society and often do not get the opportunities they need to heal, rebuild themselves, and achieve their holistic development and growth. SWB Uganda is one of the few spaces in our community where they can do these things.

Coach Jules with SWB participants in 2019.

Today, SWB Uganda is entirely local and youth-led; this is a big testament to our mission and values and I am excited about the growth of so many youth who I witnessed in their earliest days as refugees. While they once had almost no means to cope, limited opportunities or local knowledge, today they are the ones driving this robust program and creating an immense impact in the lives of their fellow refugees, newcomers and local youth. I am truly excited and hope to continue supporting and providing chances to fellow refugees and disadvantaged youth and continuing to pave ways for them to meaningfully participate, bring their voices to where they are mostly unheard, encourage them to know and believe they can contribute, take advantage of opportunities to lead, and make positive and sustainable social change in their communities and beyond.

Additionally, girls empowerment and female leadership also remain of great interest to me and I am looking forward to supporting meaningful inclusion initiatives that break the systematic, institutional, and cultural barriers limiting women from reaching their full potential. I believe that the inclusion of refugees, women, and girls as leaders is one of the most comprehensive and sustainable ways to improve society. While this is a big task, I am so honored and privileged to be driving this change together with my amazing teammates here at SWB Uganda as well as with the continued engagement of our community and stakeholders. Together, we will continue growing SWB Uganda as leaders in evidence-based youth development through soccer and gender equality throughout the entire region and continent of Africa. 

While the appointment of Jules as our new SWB Uganda Director is exciting enough, there is even more great news around the hub to be grateful for: be sure to join us in also congratulating Fahaby Kitimbo and Rebecca Abio for being selected to lead SWB Uganda as program managers! 

Congratulations Jules, Fahaby, and Becky! We’re glad you’re here!


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