Sports and Social Change


"All the successful teams I've ever seen have 3 characteristics: They play unselfish, they play together and they play hard." ~ Larry Brown


So maybe money is a little tight and the commitment to coaching or volunteering just doesn't fit into your schedule, but you still want to do something to help. Microvolunteering could be the answer...


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"Great players are willing to give up their own personal achievements for the achievements of the group. It enhances everybody."
~ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

For those who want to give their time, there are a host of great ways to get involved with sports programs in your community as a coach or volunteer, even if you can only contribute a few hours a month. Here are some of our favorites...

Coach Across America

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Hey Sports Fans!

An assist is the ultimate unselfish play to help your team.
They can be pretty, they can be gritty.
And when the final buzzer sounds, everyone wins when you Give An Assist.

We've all marveled at a John Stockton no-look, behind the back pass or a Wayne Gretzky feed from behind the net. And now it's your turn...

This holiday season, we're calling on you to "Give An Assist" to those in need. We figured the best way to do that is to provide a little bit of coaching and gameplan. Whatever your favorite sport, team, athlete might be, we've come up with a few suggestions on how you can "Give An Assist" not only during the holidays but also throughout the entire year.

"Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates."
~ Magic Johnson



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Our good friend Chandrima Chatterjee may not have the goal scoring prowess of Mia Hamm or Alex Morgan, but she just might be the MVP for Women's Soccer around the world. In this post, she brings us some insights and updates from Yuwa, an award winning Women's Soccer program in India plus details on how soccer fans can help support their latest fundraising campaign. You can follow Chandrima on Twitter at @ChandrimaTweets

It Takes a Village… of Yuwa girls
But it takes all of us to help empower them!

From the moment I heard of Yuwa I knew there was a unique magic in it worth promoting. Having worked with numerous global sports outreach groups for five years, and having volunteered with homelessness outreach services in the US since high school, I was eager to see what made Yuwa different.

The story of Yuwa begins with four friends and a shared vision to make a difference in the world. Franz Gastler, Greg Deming, Stephen Peterson, and Erik Odland all graduated from Edina High School in 2000. In 2008, they co-founded a soccer program in the Jharkhand state of India, a place where girls and women lead silent almost invisible lives, giving up their rights to an education and a real future, toiling away in their homes and being married off as children to lessen the burden they are on their families. Jharkhand leads the world in human trafficking (100,000 annually) because often girls see it as their only way out of a pre-determined fate. Today, there are more than 250 girls in the Yuwa program.

"Through team sport, Yuwa provides a platform for young women to gain confidence to make a change in their world." ~ Franz Gastler, Yuwa co-founder, executive director and head coach

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Here's a great TED talk from IKEA's Chief Sustainability Officer, Steve Howard, talking about why the company has taken an "all-in" approach, how it benefits everyone involved, and lays out a challenge for all big brands. IKEA has made sustainability more than just a "nice to have" or something to feature in the annual report. They operate their entire business around it. And they do it because it makes sense financially as well as socially.

Sports brands, take note. If you're not "all-in" soon, you'll soon be left out.

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Give an Assist on #GivingTuesday

Is your organization doing something sports related for #GivingTuesday? Then we want to know about it!

We're planning a BIG media push for #GivingTuesday to shine a light on the many different ways sports fans can give back this holiday season. If your organization is doing something around #GivingTuesday, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the details. We've got a ton of cool stuff in the works that we'll be launching throughout November leading up to #GivingTuesday on Dec 3rd, and we want to include everyone in the sports community.

Wait... Time-out! You've never heard of #GivingTuesday?

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The folks at Peace Players International have a story to share about the power of sport to bridge the gap between people in one of the most volatile parts of the world. Peace Players International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating peace in divided nations through the sport of basketball, currently operating in Cyprus, Israel and the West Bank, South Africa, and Northern Ireland.

An Unlikely Match

“PeacePlayers gave me the chance to play basketball, which is rare in the Arab community, and it made me more ambitious for the future.” ~ Manal, East Jerusalem

It was an unlikely match. In April of 2010, Romy, a bubbly Jewish girl from the Israeli town of Herzliya, arrived at her first basketball tournament run by PeacePlayers International (PPI), a non-profit that uses basketball to bring children together in areas of conflict. Amidst the tournament action on the court and the playing around in the stands, Romy made two new friends: Malak and Mayar, Palestinian girls from East Jerusalem. Although the girls grew up only an hour apart, their worlds were completely different. In Israel and the West Bank, deep social divides have undermined generations of peacemaking efforts. Even where Arab and Jewish communities live side-by-side, life is starkly segregated, leaving most in both communities to rely on exaggerated misinformation for their knowledge about the “other side”. PPI’s program in the Middle East uses basketball to integrate Israeli Jewish, Israeli Arab, and Palestinian children, using the neutral medium of sport to build the trust necessary for sustainable peace.

After the tournament, the three girls continued to meet and their friendships grew fast on and off the court. The girls began hanging out together, shopping, playing, laughing and talking – all the things typical pre-teens love to do.  But there is nothing typical about these girls’ friendships. Malak, Mayar and Romy’s conversations are a mix of Hebrew and Arabic. Romy only speaks Hebrew; Mayar only speaks Arabic; and Malak speaks Hebrew and Arabic and helps both of the other girls understand one other. Despite these challenges, the girls’ relationships continued to blossom.

(Left to Right) Mayar, Malak and Romy just hours after meeting each other at the Peace LeagueThen in June of 2012, two years after their first encounter, Romy celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. A Bat Mitzvah, literally translated, is the “Daughter of Mitzvah.” It means that a Jewish young woman is ready to observe all of the mitzvot (commandments). For many Jewish girls, their Bat Mitzvah is the most important day of their lives. They eagerly await the event, excited to celebrate their rite of passage as a Jewish youth; so it only makes sense to want all the most important people in your life to celebrate this occasion with you.

Romy held her Bat Mitzvah at Herzliya Beach, a sandy area of coastline just north of Tel Aviv. Along with her family and friends, Romy invited Malak and Mayar. For Malak and Mayar, it was their first time celebrating someone’s Bat Mitzvah. But it was not the only first for them. After the party started, the girls who were then began surfing, one of Romy’s hobbies. Later the girls went back to Romy’s house and the three danced, laughed, and celebrated this momentous occasion.

PeacePlayers International (PPI) is an international nonprofit organization that uses the game of basketball to unite, educate, and inspire young people in divided communities worldwide. Through year-round, integrated youth basketball programs in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel and the West Bank, and Cyprus, PPI has reached more than 55,000 participants since its inception in 2001. PPI prioritizes the involvement of girls in its programs. In Israel and the West Bank, where only 25% of participants in competitive sports are women, more than 70% of PPI’s program participants are female. PPI uses its unique curriculum to not only teach participants how to be confident, assertive athletes, but also confident, assertive leaders. Using a longitudinal model, which engages children from early childhood all the way through adulthood, PPI is creating a league of young women ambassadors for peace. PPI’s Leadership Development Program gives these young women the tools to lead the way towards peace in their local communities and beyond, and to serve as positive role models for younger girls.

For more information, visit

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Tuesday, 08 October 2013 14:17

SWOLing for Good with Alive & Kicking

We have partnered with one of the leading online soccer communities, Soccer Without Limits (SWOL) to feature "soccer for development" programs around the world. These orgs will provide some background on how their programs got started and how soccer fans can get involved. And a big thanks goes out to the team at Kicking Across Carolina for their efforts in putting these profiles together. Game on!

SWOLing for Good: Alive and Kicking

We call it the world’s game. We call it the beautiful game. We wear our teams’ and countries’ colors with exuberant pride. We roar loudly at every goal and exhale with relief at every clean sheet.

Soccer is a game built on deft skills and artfully executed teamwork; fueled by deep rooted passion and commitment. But, there is another side to the game we love, where those same skills, teamwork, passion and commitment are channeled towards a greater good as well as a common goal.

Around the world, soccer has become an amazing tool for creating meaningful social change. From major European and US cities to remote parts of Africa and Central America, there are dozens of nonprofit programs, clubs and NGOs which step onto the pitch to address some of the planet’s biggest challenges. These issues include poverty, homelessness, disease prevention, literacy, environmental awareness, racial equality, disabilities and a myriad of other critical issues.

At Soccer Without Limits (SWOL), we want to shine a light on those who channel their love for the game into their work in the community. Every touch, every pass, every tackle takes on greater meaning when the goal is a win for more than the shirt on your back.

We encourage you to take a moment and learn more about these amazing organizations and how you can channel your own passion and commitment to soccer into making a difference in the world.

And that is truly a beautiful game.

Program Name: Alive & Kicking
Location: London, UK
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alive & Kicking is an African social enterprise that manufactures sports balls in Kenya, Zambia and Ghana, with a head office in the UK. The aims of the operations are to generate employment for adults, provide quality balls for children and to promote health awareness through sport.

Over 120 people are employed in the production of soccer balls, volleyballs, netballs, handballs and rugby balls, which are sold to individuals, charities and major retailers across Africa. Around 20% of A&K balls are donated to schools or youth projects, giving disadvantaged children the opportunity to play with a real ball, often for the first time. The donated balls are printed with basic health messages and health outreach initiatives are run in each country, including tournaments, road shows and poster campaigns.

How did Alive and Kicking get started?
Alive & Kicking was established in 2004 by the late Jim Cogan OBE, an inspirational former school teacher with a passion for African development. After securing a grant from the Department for International Development, Alive & Kicking was able to establish its first stitching centre, in Nairobi, Kenya. 2005 saw A&K supply UEFA with 81,000 balls to be donated across every country in Africa. The order provided the stability and impetus to establish A&K in the market. Building on this success, a second operation was opened in Lusaka, Zambia in 2007. In 2008, Alive & Kicking South Africa opened, operating for 16 months. 2012 saw the enterprise expand into West Africa, as A&K Ghana was established.

What has been the biggest challenge in running Alive and Kicking?
Getting the organisation off the ground took an extraordinary effort from our founder. Raising funds, building up production capacity and entering the market as a new brand was very challenging. Expanding into new countries and enabling our operations to run as self-sustaining businesses has been a rewarding challenge ever since.


What are some of the life skills that playing soccer teaches us?
Teamwork, enthusiasm and dedication are as important in life as they are in soccer. We have also seen at Alive & Kicking how the passion of soccer across the world can be used to unite communities and bring about positive social change. Importantly for us, soccer provides a very strong demand that we use to sustain jobs through manufacturing footballs.

How can soccer fans get involved to support Alive and Kicking?
Soccer fans can support Alive & Kicking by donating one of our soccer balls to children in Africa via our website:



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As late summer charges on here in the US and much of the pro sports world collides on our tv screens - Baseball's pennant races, NCAA and NFL football getting started, Tennis, Golf, the whispers of NHL and NBA training camps - there are some new faces making significant inroads into the channel rotation and the day-to-day sports chatter. EPL, La Liga and Serie A are not so foreign anymore, MLS and the re-born NASL are drawing fans, and the sport of soccer (yes, the other "football" outside these shores...) is finally hitting its stride stateside.

But for many in the nonprofit space, soccer has long been one of the foundations of "sport for development" programming, and a highly effective platform to address some of the most challenging issues. That's a big part of why this weekend's Beyond Soccer event in Philadelphia is so important. Organized by the folks at streetfootballworld - a fantastic grassroots network for soccer for development programs - the event will gather many of the leaders in the space to share best practices, operational challenges and tactical solutions in the "soccer for change" movement. Below are the full details on how to participate. For those who can't make it, we'll be sharing stories, photos and videos as part of an event recap in the coming weeks.

Can a ball really change the world? It can when its kicked in the right direction. And Beyond Soccer has this one headed right into the top corner...



Beyond SoccerBeyond Soccer – powered by streetfootballworld - is the first international event in the USA focusing purely on the power of the world’s most popular sport to tackle social issues like poverty, disease and lack of education.

It takes place on Sunday September 8th in Philadelphia, PA as part of the Beyond Sport Summit and Awards - an annual event that highlights and reward projects that use sport for social change. Last year’s Summit in London, UK was attended by sports superstars like David Beckham, Muhammad Ali, Michael Johnson and Michelle Kwan.

Following a successful edition of ‘Beyond Soccer’ at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in 2012, the event will come to the USA for the first time at PPL Park, the home of the Philadelphia Union. The event brings together experts from the world of soccer to discuss how the sport can lead the way in the USA in terms of creating social change and will feature among others:


  • Juergen Griesbeck, award-winning founder and CEO of streetfootballworld
  • Ethan Zohn, “Survivor” winner and founder of soccer non-profit Grassroot Soccer
  • Nick Sakiewicz, CEO of the Philadelphia Union
  • Tony Sanneh, former USMNT player and founder of a soccer for social change foundation
  • Enrique Sanz, General Secretary of CONCACAF
  • Bill Peterson, Commissioner of the NASL
  • Organizations that use soccer to address issues like homelessness, refugees, obesity, crime, gangs and youth violence in the USA, Costa Rica, Haiti, Cuba, South Africa and more
  • Young people from deprived communities whose lives have been changed by soccer

streetfootballworldstreetfootballworld is the world’s leading organization in the field of soccer for social change, connecting over 90 organizations in 60 countries. We are a strategic ally of FIFA and are involved  in the delivery of the social legacy campaigns of the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. We also work with UEFA and the AFC and have consulted for the World Economic Forum and Clinton Global Initiative about the role of soccer in social change and are the winners  of several awards in the field of sports and social entrepreneurship.

We’ll also be starting a twitter hashtag #beyondsoccer to start a conversation highlighting the role of soccer for social change in the USA. Please look out for it and help us spread the word.

For more information on Beyond Soccer visit


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Over the past few years, we've learned that one of the biggest challenges facing sports nonprofit organizations is how to spread the word about the great work they do in the field. This is a common theme across the nonprofit space in general, as many small to mid-sized organizations are drastically limited in their ability, time, budget and resources to manage an effective public relations and social media plan. And we'd like change that...

Earlier this week, I had a great opportunity to speak in front of over 20 different sports nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, at the Up2Us Regional Executive Director's meeting, covering the topics of public relations and social media. The goal was to provide some basic guidelines, best practices and resources for these organizations to get a better grasp on creating a Marketing and PR strategy. We also brought in our good friends from PwrdBy to talk about mobile apps and mobile marketing campaigns. If you're looking for a mobile app solution for your nonprofit, I highly reccomend taking a look at the PwrdBy platform - it's super easy to use, loaded with great features and priced right for nonprofits.

And for those who might not be familiar with Up2Us, they are a fantastic organization that provides a wide range of resources, tools and guidance for sports based youth development organizations around program development, capacity building, and measurement & evalution tools, along with their signature Coach Across America program.

Check out the slides from the presentation below, and feel free to share this with anyone you feel might benefit from it. And let me know what you think - we're always looking for suggestions and new ideas to help support the programs in the sports nonprofit space.



View Presentation Fullscreen


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