Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Littleton to the SWB Board of Directors. Michael joins us with a wealth of experience in a number of industries including sports nutrition, manufacturing, real estate and, most recently, the nonprofit sector.
Currently residing in Oakland, California, Michael's journey with SWB began in the spring of 2020 when he became an integral member of SWB Oakland's Advisory Board.
As we extend a warm welcome to Michael as a member of the Board of Directors, he shared his thoughts on what initially drew him to SWB and which aspects of the role excite him most:
Can you describe your personal connection with the game of soccer or with SWB’s mission specifically?
I grew up in the UK. Some of my earliest memories are of the game, and in particular the 1970 Men’s World Cup. I remember the bitter disappointment of England losing in the Quarter Finals (something my country folk have got quite used to) as well as being mesmerized by the wonderful Brazil team throughout the tournament and particularly in the Final.
My son and daughter both played competitively growing up in Oakland, with my son going on to play at college, semi-pro in the UK and with the Oakland Roots. Though my own (extremely modest) playing days are well behind me, I still love watching the game at all levels.
These days soccer is such an international sport, that it seems the perfect place for so many young people to meet, make friends and learn from each other as well as everyone else involved with SWB.
How did you first get involved in or connected to SWB?
I was introduced to Ben Gucciardi after I asked someone with an extensive background in non-profits to nominate an organization that they really admired. I went on to meet Ben at Oakland International High School where I could immediately tell how engaged so many of the students were with the program. Ben invited me to apply to join the Oakland Advisory Board where I have served for almost four years.
What inspires you to continue to be a part of SWB?
I’ve been immensely impressed by everyone I’ve ever met at SWB. Their passion, hard work and commitment to the mission just shines through every time I interact with anyone within the organization.
I have also become increasingly aware of the extensive individual challenges that so many newcomer students face. In addition, they are arriving in a political climate that has become more and more negative toward them. I am inspired to be part of an organization that utterly rejects this negativity and works so hard to create an inclusive and accepting space where all of them can feel valued and cared about.
What are you looking forward to most about joining the Board of Directors?
I’ve already learned a great deal while working with the Oakland Advisory Board and I’m definitely looking forward to working more closely with, and learning from, many more people across the organization. I’m hopeful we can build on the significant strengths that SWB already possesses in order that we can serve a larger number of students and enable more and more positive outcomes.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
One of my absolutely favorite days at SWB was attending the end of year event for the boys teams in 2022 at Oakland International High School. I was struck by two things: First, the large number of countries that the boys had come from and second, by the incredible, positive energy in the room and by how wonderfully supportive everyone was for each other.
Welcome Michael, we’re glad you’re here!