On March 27, Soccer Without Borders Oakland hosted its first annual Footgolf Tournament. Normally SWB Oakland holds its popular Small Goals, Big Change soccer tournament fundraiser each spring, but had to pivot this year due to COVID-19. Despite the change in plans, it was still a huge success and a lot of fun, raising over $8,000 that will support SWB’s free programs for youth across the city.
Footgolf combines soccer with golf, with the goal of having players kick a soccer ball on the fairway of a golf course into a cup in as few shots as possible. The tournament took place at Corica Golf Course in Alameda, and featured both adult and youth brackets. Registrants in both brackets came from across the Bay Area to participate and raise funds for SWB Oakland. In total there were 38 youth players on 10 teams and 42 adults on 11 teams.
"It’s very important to support events like the Footgolf as SWB is crucial for newcomer refugees and immigrant youth to transition into a new culture and environment,” said Yohannes Harish, former SWB member and current midfielder for the Oakland Roots professional soccer team. “It was very difficult for me coming to a new country and not understanding the language and culture, but joining SWB made the transition easier,” Harish continued, “SWB helps develop positive and successful individuals in our community; therefore, supporting SWB is crucial to the betterment of our community."
In attendance was Rob Bonta, California State Assemblyman and recently appointed
State Attorney General. He spoke of the importance of providing safe spaces for newcomer youth to grow and thrive — and highlighted the unique and successful approach of Soccer Without Borders. Using soccer, a universal language, allows youth to feel comfortable, safe, and connected to one another and their community.
“We are so excited that SWB can continue its tradition of annual competitions, albeit in a slightly different form this year,” stated Ben Gucciardi, Oakland Program Director and SWB Founder. “Our partnership with Corica Parks enables SWB to continue helping kids stay focused academically, learn about their health and have success in current and future endeavors.”
The event brought a diverse group of over 80 people together — from players to coaches to advisory board members and community supporters — to learn about and understand the depth of SWB programming, and come together to support it. Especially during COVID, the event felt like a beautiful symbol of the strength and adaptability of the SWB Oakland community.