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  • Soccer Without Borders

Our Mantras: Know the Thingy Thingy

Sometimes it can be hard to find the words to express what we need or how we feel. When you are learning a new language, as is the case for more than 80% of Soccer Without Borders participants, it can feel even more overwhelming. Having someone in your life who just "gets it" - even without being told - is a gamechanger.

Five girls  on the soccer field in uniform wrapped in a flag
While "Practice English" is one of SWB's five rules at our programs serving English Language Learners, we also make sure to celebrate and embrace participants' cultures

When newcomers first arrive to a new country there is so much unknown. New logistics, customs, ways of being, ways of navigating, and ways of communicating can all add up to an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. "Know the Thingy Thingy" is about the intuition that comes along with a trusting relationship, where young people feel seen, heard, and valued.


Two players elbow bump
Covid-19 made knowing the thingy thingy that much more important, as social isolation and interrupted school schedules meant that coaches had to get creative to find out what each participant needed most.

Positive change happens at the speed of trust. This is why at Soccer Without Borders we prioritize long-term relationships between teammates, between participants, parents/guardians, coaches, and between SWB and all stakeholders communities we serve. This means investing our resources into retaining program practitioners over time, offering programming for a wide range of age groups, and working to resolve barriers and partnership challenges as they arise.


Coach on the field with a team of girls
More than two-thirds of the staff at Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua are program alumnae, with an average of more than 8 years of Soccer Without Borders experience between them.

For our staff, Knowing the Thingy Thingy means continuous learning and listening. From trauma-informed coaching strategies, to restorative practices, to social-emotional skills in our programs, to inclusive and equitable policies, efficient systems, and authentic brand-building behind the scenes, our team members are always seeking ways to build their own skills and contribution to the mission.


Coach speaking to a team in a closing circle
New staff members at SWB join a Creating Belonging cohort to learn about the different populations we serve and gain a level of comfort asking questions and engaging in conversation with diverse groups of people.

Knowing the thingy thingy does not mean having all of the answers. More often, it means asking the right questions. Monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) systems help us to ask measure our progress and respond to feedback. Our Theory of Change draws a through-line from our youth-centered activities to how SWB contributes to gender equity, social inclusion for newcomers, and community cohesion.


A single player focuses on listening
Building social-emotional skills such as self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, and social awareness are a central focus of SWB programs supporting youth to identify and name their needs, concerns, and feelings.

Our mantras define our culture and guide decision-making, especially when what to do isn't immediately clear. Know the thingy thingy lives in this space of intangibles, where trust, experience, and intuition, make all the difference.


Two coaches discuss a training topic











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