The Soccer Without Borders Seattle high school girls’ team has seen a lot of growth within the past year. With high levels of participation and the formation of a tight-knit community, the girls were nearing the end of their fall season and took the time to reflect on it. To them SWB provides the feeling of inclusion and having a safe space to turn to, a sense of familiarity reminding them of their childhoods in their home countries, and that their amazing coach has helped make it all possible.
Inclusion and Safe Space
Above all else, we want our participants to feel welcomed unconditionally into the SWB family, and the high school girls’ team has achieved just that. One of our participants Melissa said, “Playing with SWB allows me to concentrate and leave behind the things that are negative in my life. I can remove the negative thoughts and relax for a moment.”
Her teammate Juana agreed saying, “My first day is my best memory because it made me feel safe and comfortable, because our team quickly established trust with each other!”
Soccer Feels Like Home
Many of the girls had similar tales of playing soccer when they were younger, and thinking that upon moving here, that they would not be able to anymore. Our programming quelled those fears by allowing the girls to once again become active in sports upon moving to Seattle.
One of the defenders on the team, Seham, said, “When I was little, I use to play soccer. I enjoy SWB because I get to play soccer again. It’s familiar to me and that makes it comfortable and safe for me.” Melissa also played soccer back in her home country. “When I was a little girl,” she said, “I broke my ankle and thought I would not play again. SWB has given me the chance to play again.”
Many of the girls would credit their coach Stephanie for being the reason they keep coming back to practice, or for one of our players, Paulina, she says Stephanie was the reason she joined in the first place. “She was at a camp I went to over the summer,” she said. “So, when I saw her at my new school, I knew I had to try the soccer team. She was so nice at the camp I knew that the team was something I wanted to be a part of. She always explains in both English and Spanish if I or someone else doesn’t understand.”
While the other girls might not have known Stephanie before joining the team, they have nothing but nice things to say. Daniella said, “She always has a smile on her face and that makes me feel welcomed, and makes it a friendly space.”
All of the girls shared sentiments of self-improvement on the field and felt ready to support their team going forward into the new school year. Milka, another one of the girls on the team, summed it up well saying, “Some days you win, some days you don’t, but with hard work you can do it. Try everything, it’s one of the five rules of SWB!”