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  • Soccer Without Borders

Julio Chow-Gamboa Named to SWB Board of Directors

Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is pleased to announce that Julio Chow-Gamboa has been named to the SWB Borders Board of Directors. Julio brings extensive experience as an educator and is currently serving as the Senior Manager of Educator Capacity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization dedicated to building a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone.

Julio earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature: Media and Aesthetics from Princeton University and is passionate about the way that sports are able to build community and positively impact the lives of newcomer youth.

As we welcome Julio as our newest board member, he shared his reflections on what brought him to SWB and which aspects of the role excites him most:

Can you describe your personal connection with the game of soccer or with SWB’s mission specifically?

My dad is from Mexico, from Mérida. He grew up there and came to the US when he was 25. Actually, he specifically came to Denver, Colorado, which is now of course home to one of SWB’s hubs. My dad grew up playing soccer and when he first came to Denver, the game became an important way of building community with those who had also immigrated from Latin America. In fact, a number of those same friends ended up becoming part of his community for a large portion of his life!

As for me, I grew up playing baseball and basketball. Even though these sports are different from soccer, the type of development and skill building that I received from them (not to mention the friendships I made along the way) were very significant. It was so significant that, once I became a high school teacher, I jumped at the opportunity to coach basketball myself.

How did you first get involved in or connected to SWB?

I was a high school teacher at Oakland International High School (OIHS) from 2009 to 2013. These were the early days of both OIHS and of Soccer Without Borders. While there, I taught 11th and 12th grade and many of my students, both boys and girls, were involved with Soccer Without Borders programs held at OIHS.

So that’s how I initially learned about the organization and connected with the youth that they served. I saw, first-hand, the importance of community for newcomers, those who were brand new to the country, who’ve experienced so much disruption and change in their lives, and who faced the challenge of not being able to speak the same language as others in their community.

Since my day job was to teach these students English, I saw how the community built by SWB made a valuable impact in both my own classroom and in the school as a whole.

What inspires you to continue to be a part of SWB?

Being at the same school site as SWB for four years, I got to directly experience the impact of the program – how SWB became a really meaningful part of the lives of students. I saw how it played a significant role in creating a broader community of care for a group of young people who were often overlooked by society.

I also continue to be inspired by how the values of the organization are lived out at all levels, from the top to the bottom. It is simply an amazing, robust, and healthy community of people who are super passionate, who work really hard, and who have fun together. I think that it’s a unique organization for being able to do all those things.

What are you looking forward to most about joining the Board of Directors?

Firstly, it is a privilege to be a part of the SWB community in a formal way and so that is something that I am personally excited about. I also recognize that the organization is in a season of transition and so it is exciting and energizing to join at a time like this. I am excited to plug in and contribute to the organization by bringing my perspective from working in schools around the country and my experiences which have been anchored by my time as an English teacher for newcomer youth.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Yeah! There are a couple of things. First, creating a sense of belonging for youth is not easy work. So to see Soccer Without Borders become a model of an organization doing that well – anchored in the values that they hold – is something that I think a lot of people can learn from, even if they don’t directly work in soccer or sports-based programming.

The other thing that I want to share is how the communities served by this organization, including both newcomer youth and underserved girls, deserve more time and attention from those who have resources to give and who are trying to figure out how to prioritize and what to elevate. So, I hope that people do not only consider paying more attention to the issues, but also to the approaches that have made SWB the impactful organization that it has become.


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