Recently the Soccer Without Borders community gathered virtually to celebrate highlights from 2020 and recognize some select individuals and groups who truly embodied the SWB mantras. Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, every member of the SWB community has gone above and beyond in service to our mission. We created belonging during a time of isolation, strengthened community ties, and provided safe spaces for healthy living.
This year’s award categories reflect the six mantras of SWB. All of our award nominees were incredibly deserving and represent only a small selection of our community. During the virtual event, teams presented details about their nominees and the winners were voted upon by the entire group.
Leave Your Shoes at the Door: Celebrating our Volunteers Our community includes people from all over the world, with different customs, beliefs, and backgrounds. We
prioritize learning from each other with authenticity and humility.
Winner Coach Christian Musoda (Uganda) Christian is an alumnus (2013) who returned
as a volunteer in February. He manages Covid-19 safety protocol, doing health checks for over 250-300 participants each day to help keep everyone safe. Christian also supports our education programming and exudes positivity at all times!
Nominees Jasmin (Boston) Jasmin supports our middle school boys program and quickly earned the respect of our participants. She leads by example and is always looking for additional ways to support our team.
Blisa Mahmood (Colorado) Blisa truly embodies this mantra! Originally from Palestine, Blisa spends part of every practice asking youth questions about their cultures and often pointing out similarities between them.
Erin Crossley (Maryland) Erin joined SWB in summer 2019 and has supported wherever she was needed from virtual practices to tutoring. She currently drives nearly an hour each way to coach our middle school teams in-person.
Jose Traña (Nicaragua) A long-time volunteer, Jose began as a referee for multiple programs and now coaches the Shooting Stars. He also serves as an assistant coach for the U17 Granada team that will play in the National Tournament.
Joel Shaffer (Oakland) A volunteer since 2017, Joel is a model of consistency and patience who always shows up for our participants and is truly committed to SWB.
Know The “Thingy Thingy”: Pandemic Response Programs Sometimes participants don't know how to express themselves or to communicate what they need. As adults in a guiding role, our coaches are there to support self-expression through listening and asking questions, but sometimes they just need to know what the "thingy thingy" is even without the words to express it.
WINNERS Thomas Boreiko (Nicaragua) Thomas is a long-time supporter and partner of Futbol Sin Fronteras. When the pandemic halted travel to Nicaragua, we missed out on the supplies and gear volunteers and visitors normally bring. Thomas secured a shipping container and sent many supplies from the U.S. to our team in Nicaragua. He's currently supporting our first coed league for elementary school-aged boys and girls.
U10 Dance Fitness (Uganda) After many months without in-person programming, we welcomed the Under-10 age group to our Youth Center where they participated in a Dance Fitness program and crafts classes. This provided a safe environment for them to play with their teammates and get back to a normal routine.
Nominees Boston Marathon (Boston) SWB normally fields a New York City Marathon team. When the marathon was cancelled, SWB Boston pivoted and had its own “marathon,” running a combined 105 laps on the track, raising funds and celebrating our community.
Bike Program (Colorado) SWB coaches Mia and Allie procured 11 bicycles and helmets that enabled our participants to get themselves to practices in Aurora and Greeley and even taught a few of them how to ride.
Summer Pod Program (Maryland) During summer 2020, SWB Maryland had eight separate neighborhood groups running pod programming, with 26 coaches reaching 150 students a day. They did this all without a single Covid issue.
Holiday Gift Drive (Oakland) SWB Oakland held a gift drive this past December, collecting donations from the community and delivering wrapped, customized gifts to our participants and their families. We distributed over 200 gifts and 250 SWB t-shirts!
You Play Your Best When You’re Smiling: Photo of the Year Joy is contagious. We aim to create a playing and working environment that prioritizes well-being. If you are happy and having fun, your team will be happy and having fun too.
WINNER Yenifer (Colorado, Al Milligan) (below, top left) Yenifer is a second-grader who shows up for every SWB practice no matter if it’s middle school boys or high school girls. She cheers on everyone — even the other team! During the Stay Home Season, she would convince her entire family to join the Zoom sessions.
Nominees (clockwise) Ana (Boston, Ye-Htet Soe) Ana is on our middle school girls team and has a very contagious smile, a lot of energy, and a TON of spirit!
2020 Graduation Caravan (Oakland, Carson McFadden) 2020 graduate Shiham (center) was celebrated by past and present coaches as a part of SWB Oakland’s Graduation Caravan, which visited the entire class of 2020. After more than six years with SWB, she’s now attending the University of Puget Sound.
Baltimore HS Girls (Maryland, Kat Sipes) Melat representing our high school girls team. This team brought so much excitement, energy, and support for each other throughout the pandemic and helped bring former participants back to SWB.
Campamento (Nicaragua) This is our January soccer camp, which brought everyone together after many months of at-home programming. We celebrated so much happiness, energy, and friendship from the girls.
Team Crocs (Uganda) This is SWB Uganda’s U10 Girls team, “Team Crocs,” on the field—always bringing the positive energy!
Celebrate the Pass More Than the Goal: Recognizing our Community Partners
We recognize the long-term nature of youth development work. We celebrate small, everyday triumphs, that are part learning and growing. We believe that with a focus on ensuring a consistent, high quality process, positive outcomes will follow.
WINNER Community Liaisons & Interpreters (Maryland) Mr. Solomon, Mr. John, and Ms. Mahmoud are more than partners to SWB Maryland—they are an extension of our SWB family. They are interpreters and community liaisons who helped us facilitate dozens of family meetings and phone calls to ensure students were aware of safety measures and that guardians felt safe sending them back to programming. They are always smiling, always open and we achieve much more thanks to their unwavering support.
Boston Scores & South End Soccer (Boston) SWB Boston teamed up with Boston Scores and South End Soccer for the Boston Kicks Together virtual skills competition. Participants competed in weekly skills competitions, creating community for nearly 300 students.
Aurora West College Preparatory Academy (Colorado) Aurora West teachers, counselors, and support staff provide significant academic support to our participants. Last spring, staff member Anthony retrieved equipment stored at the school when it closed due to the pandemic — without that we wouldn’t have had balls and other items to distribute to participants for use at home.
Women Win (Nicaragua) Women Win provided the technical and financial support for Futbol Sin Fronteras coches to run clinics in other parts of Nicaragua. FSF coaches shared their knowledge and methodology, helping establish three more soccer camps and reaching many more girls.
Castlemont International Support Team (Oakland) The International Team at Castlemont works tirelessly to ensure international students have access to food and housing, academics, and socioemotional support. They have also worked with Oakland staff to implement an anti-racism series for all teachers.
Coach Bobon & Nsambya Pitch Management (Uganda) Coach Bobon manages the pitch that SWB Uganda uses for programming. When the pitch was shut down last June, he made an exception for SWB, allowing us to hold practices and maintain connections with participants.
Get Them to the Field: SWB Team of the Year We proactively work to eliminate financial, social, logistical, and cultural barriers for participants to get to the field. We practice a "do what it takes" mentality when it comes to supporting our youth to access opportunities.
WINNER Dundalk Middle School (Maryland) SWB Maryland’s Dundalk site has been a strictly virtual program for more than a year, logging 1,004 hours on Zoom since August 2020! Despite this, Dundalk has maintained participant attendance, engaged alumni, recruited new students, and established a greater presence at the school by joining ESOL classes during the day.
Middle School Boys (Boston) SWB Boston middle school boys have taken the initiative to get themselves to the field where they work hard to improve. They support each other to ensure everyone is showing up for practice in a welcoming, safe, and inclusive space.
Greeley High School Girls (Colorado) The Greeley HS girls team has a core of 10-12 participants who show up consistently and are committed to skills development. They’ve enjoyed outdoor activities such as hiking and were among the most engaged participants during our Stay Home Season.
Dia De La Niña - International Day of the Girl (Nicaragua) Futbol Sin Fronteras celebrated International Day of the Girl in October, hosting a reunion for former and current coaches. Everyone shared their experiences and reflected upon the progress of FSF and their goals for empowering girls and teens in the community.
Castlemont High School Girls (Oakland) Coach Sophie started this team in the midst of a pandemic, creating the first girls team at what had previously been an all-boys site. They have overcome many challenges to field a full squad and are eager participants in off-field activities, and academic support.
Coach Ramos & The Rhinos - Senior Team (Uganda) When SWB Uganda reopened in June last year, about 20 boys on this team returned, coming to almost every session, and since October, they’ve shown incredible improvement on the pitch. Their hard work is paying off—as evidenced by their recent results against other teams in our community!
We’re Glad You’re Here Whether a participant, volunteer, or staff member, everyone should feel welcomed, valued, and included at SWB. Immediately setting a positive, welcoming tone is important for establishing a safe and inclusive space.
This award is a special recognition for all team members who were either brand new to SWB or relocated to a different site during the pandemic this past year.