Our Mantras: Get Them To The Field
In a typical soccer game, each player spends less than 5% of the game with the ball. What you do off the ball, seen and unseen, is what ultimately determines the outcome. The same is true for coaching. As a Soccer Without Borders coach, the actual time coaching the full group at a practice or game is just a small portion of the effort it takes to create a thriving team and program.
Barriers such as a lack of equipment, transportation, and financial resources make traditional youth sports programs inaccessible to many youth. For many newcomer youth, barriers of language as well as the need to work and/or take care of younger siblings after school can limit participation. For many girls, barriers can stack up even higher, with cultural and gender norms that can limit parental support, add additional domestic responsibilities, and create internalized bias that "sports aren't for me."
Every young person has a unique set of individual circumstances. This is why our mantra "Get Them To The Field" is about much more than physically transporting kids to the field. It's about understanding each individual's barriers and addressing each obstacle as it comes. However, building trust between coaches and participants in order to understand their story and circumstances takes time.
All Soccer Without Borders programs are free of cost, including all necessary equipment, uniforms, coaching, and activities. Thanks to the generous support of Capelli Sport, SWB teams have top notch uniforms that truly make the team feel united. Transportation, one of the biggest barriers to participation, is provided as often as possible through group buses, free passes for public transportation, or volunteer drivers.
Our participants speak 59 different languages, and many do not have an adult at home who speak the local language. As a result, SWB offers registration and other materials into the most common participant languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, French, Tigrinya, Burmese, Amharic, Urdu, Vietnamese, Nepali. Translators, including high school participants and recent alumni, support home visits and parent meetings.
All of our mantras define not only our youth culture, but also how we approach building our staff team. We invest significant energy into inclusive hiring and teaming practices, and continually expand our staff support benefits and resources. This has led to an average annual staff retention rate of over 90%, even throughout the pandemic years.
Even when it seems most impossible, such as when the Covid-19 pandemic first shut down schools and parks, the SWB team rises to the challenge. Never missing a beat, coaches found ways to bring the field to the participants, dropping off playing equipment, activity kits, food, and computers for virtual school. Get Them To The Field is more than a mantra, its a mindset.