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  • Soccer Without Borders

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.

Game day on a dirt field with over a hundred kids
Increasingly, SWB Hubs host our own leagues as a way of reducing transportation barriers. Game day, pictured here at SWB Uganda, is always the most fun day!

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."

Three women coaches talking
Women coaches of different cultural backgrounds are essential to keeping girls in sport. At SWB, 49% of all coaches identify as women.

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.

Coach and player speaking on the sideline
At SWB we make sure every team has a paid, trained head coach who remains consistent over time, with an average head coach tenure of 4 years.

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.

Players from a soccer team stand together
SWB leverages participation in games as an incentive and motivator for participation in academic support, mentoring, practice sessions, and other team activities.

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.

A big circle of people on a soccer field
Many families have more than one participant enrolled in SWB at a time, making SWB's feeling of family that much stronger.

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.

Two coaches discuss a training topic
Alumni coaches understand the barriers that youth face better than anyone, and can often help to navigate unique challenges such as language and cultural nuance

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.

A participant receives a ball and activity kit at home


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