Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is pleased to announce Andrew Syed as its first-ever Managing Director of Development. As the demand for Soccer Without Borders programs continues to grow, the Managing Director of Development role is a new position that will lead fund development across the organization, aimed at strengthening our community of support to unlock new growth and sustainability. Andrew will join the Executive Leadership Team tasked with overseeing the strategic development of Soccer Without Borders to maximize our mission and impact.
Andrew’s diverse experiences have included working for Amnesty International, where he operated as a Global Campaign Director, as well as serving as Founder and Executive Director of the NGO, The 10/10 Project, which provided income generating grants to indigenous development actors in Kenya. Prior to that, Andrew graduated with his master’s degree in International Development and Human Rights from the University of Denver.
Amidst all of the excitement of kicking off our annual Play It Forward campaign and on-boarding our new team member, we now want to share a recent conversation that we had with Andrew about what initially attracted him to Soccer Without Borders:
Can you describe your personal connection with the world’s game?
“Born in England and having grown up in Europe for the first 11 or so years of my life, soccer is in my DNA. I stepped away from the game for a while, but came back to it through my international experiences and through my two sons as they grew up playing. These days I coach High School boys at Golden High School and still play here and there. There is nothing like soccer -- the innate connections it has to real life and the lessons that can be learned within the game itself. I have had the opportunity to play the game in streets and fields and courts and camps all over the world. Coaching HS boys gives me a platform to connect them with the global game as well as be a teacher of all the things the game can teach, including resilience, respect, fairness, teamwork, amongst so many other things.”
What inspired you to join the SWB team?
“Looking at the mission of SWB and recognizing the crossroads of humanitarian work, youth, trauma and soccer, I saw a unique opportunity to utilize my experience, skill set and interests to contribute in an area I'm keenly interested in. And as I got to know a bit more about SWB, I saw a team of dedicated professionals who genuinely enjoy their work, enjoy working together, and are diligent in making a difference in the lives of those they serve. That's a team I want to be a part of.”
What interested you about this particular role?
“SWB is working around the world while focusing efforts in local communities enhancing and empowering the lives of some very vulnerable populations. This role is not just about traditional "development" per se, but rather it is about telling the story of SWB to a wider audience, connecting the vision and mission of SWB to others who want to get involved, and building and enhancing the relationships SWB has with those who support its work. The opportunity to tell this story, connect with others, and help lead SWB into its next phase is one I couldn't pass up.”
Which of your past experiences have been most impactful for you to be a part of?
“It's difficult to narrow down to just a few. Traveling and living with people all over the world and having the opportunity to witness first-hand both the challenges they face as well as the joys they experience -- these relationships have formed my world-view and instilled in me a sense of appreciation for all of our similarities even in the midst of our diversity. I have been blessed to call so many people friends from around the world, from Kenya to Afghanistan to Peru to Australia.”
“I've had the opportunity to play soccer in slum communities in sub-Saharan Africa, at 16,000 ft in the high Andes, and in the streets of refugee camps in Afghanistan and on make-shift pitches across eastern Europe. The game has a way of bringing people together and being a source of pause no matter what might be going on around.”
How do you feel your past experiences have prepared you for this role?
“There are lots of professional and personal circumstances that have prepared me for this role within this specific organization. My background in Human Rights as an advocate within International Development, as well as work with youth and within the soccer community all contribute to my preparedness. In addition, I have personal experience with trauma and am able to connect with that aspect of the work within SWB. In all of my previous work, I have endeavored in connecting people and communities with issues and causes and that is what I will be doing within and for SWB.”
What are you looking forward to most about joining this team as the new Managing Director of Development?
“Being a part of a team who are committed to serving each other and others in making the world a more welcoming place and being able to contribute my skills and experience to that cause -- that's a very exciting thing. I'm looking forward to learning, connecting with the communities that SWB reaches, and working together to tell our story so our mission and vision can be realized.”
We are now excited to welcome Andrew to the Soccer Without Borders Team and to move forward toward our mission of building a more inclusive world through soccer with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Read Andrew's bio here>>