T.E.A.M. Granada (Trabajando en Equipo Aprendemos Mas)

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T.E.A.M. Granada (Trabajando en Equipo Aprendemos Mas)

Nicaragua
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

T.E.A.M. (Trabajando en Equipo Aprendemos Mas or Working as a team we learn more) Granada is a part of Soccer Without Borders (SWB) or Futbol Sin Fronteras (FSF), as it is known to locals. Soccer Without Borders' T.E.A.M. project sites aim to provide opportunities for girls to play soccer, meet and interact with peers, and enjoy the benefits associated with team sports. Through themed nights at the office, practices on the weekends, and an annual camp, girls develop key skills and a sense of belonging in a community that does not always offer them that opportunity.

The rules of T.E.A.M. Granada are simple:
1) Respect yourself, Respect each other
2) Dream Big
3) Challenge yourself, challenge each other
4) Have fun

The overarching goal of our work in Nicaragua and by creating T.E.A.M. sites around the world is to catalyze positive change through a cultural exchange using the medium of soccer. In the areas where we work, the target populations are socially isolated, economically disadvantaged, face great challenges of integration and inclusion in the workforce, and are often not encouraged to set high goals for their futures. Soccer provides an avenue for positive engagement, a platform for personal growth, and a toolkit for a brighter future. In Nicaragua, the target population is girls, particularly girls aged 10-14, although our membership ranges from 8-18 years old.

The specific action plan for T.E.A.M. Granada includes the following:

CREATE AND SUSTAIN OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS SOCCER
-Maintain year-round practices for all girls, as well as opportunities for advanced development, skill development, and development of physical literacy
-Enter a Granada team in the Nicaraguan National League
-Host an annual camp for girls in January coached by US college soccer players and coaches
-Aid the establishment of girls’ soccer in other Nicaraguan cities by training coaches, providing equipment, and occasional special events

TRAIN COACHES
-Host coaches clinics around Nicaragua for interested parties that focus on developing coaching competency, development of youth, and leadership
-Support coaches through an equipment library

HOST EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
-Center programming around monthly themes including health, community, world cultures, friendship, teamwork, etc.
-Consistently reinforce the rules of FSF : Respect yourself, respect each other; Dream big; Challenge yourself, challenge each other
-Host weekly learning events at night in the office including girls’ night, language night, arts and crafts night, and movie night.
-Implement the Girls for a Change curriculum, encouraging an action team of older girls to take community change project annually.

PROVIDE SOCCER EQUIPMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
-Sustain a participation-based system for individual players to receive equipment based on participation in service and educational activities
-Continue to expand upon the items available

DEVELOP PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER KEY ACTORS
-Nicaragua Institute of Sports
-Nicaragua's Soccer Federation
-Local NGO’s
-Local Clubs

PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
-Youth leaders
-Coaches and referees
-Nicaraguan directors

Soccer Without Borders believes that in order to affect change, a multi-faceted approach is critical, as the factors that deter change are complex. First and foremost, local buy-in and investment is the cornerstone. The T.E.A.M. concept affects change by systematically addressing the various obstacles that stand in the way of girls and women accessing the power of sport and using that power to pursue their goals.

T.E.A.M. Granada will ideally become a pilot program for other potential T.E.A.M. sites in Central and South America where women's soccer and women's empowerment is most needed. At the current time, T.E.A.M. Argentina and Guatemala are in the early stages of development.

Specifically, T.E.A.M. Granada:
Is INNOVATIVE in its collaboration between US players and coaches, Nicaraguan men and women, local and international non-profits, and the Nicaraguan soccer community
Makes a SOCIAL IMPACT by recognizing the complexity of social change and addressing more than a singular void, providing direct and indirect resources to the FSF community and the women's soccer community of Nicaragua as a whole.
Is SUSTAINABLE through its investment in the growth of young local leaders, the training of coaches, and the mobilization of financial and equipment support from US soccer players and communities.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The primary problem our program addresses is the lack of engagement of women in society in Nicaragua. Engaging women through soccer and educational activities has provided an avenue for them to feel physically, emotionally, and socially stronger, more capable, and forward-thinking individuals. T.E.A.M. Granada directly and indirectly addresses the following major societal issues that face Nicaraguan (and Latin American) women: 1)Teen pregnancy and women's health 2)Physical abuse 3)Educational underachievement 4)Lack of career goals 5)Limited physical activity 6)Limited civic engagement

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The T.E.A.M. Concept is a three-pronged approach to change: top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in. Each of these prongs is a critical piece to enacting true change in the opportunities available to girls, their likelihood to embrace those opportunities, and the acceptance of the community at large of this change. Top-down- working with the national federation, supporting elite female players, training coaches Bottom-up- grassroots-level outreach, providing a safe space for individual growth and development of confidence Outside-in- importing resources and role models from outside communities and countries to fill the voids that cannot be provided locally Within this framework, the strengths of our philosophy include: 1) Adaptability- T.E.A.M. Granada responds to local needs by providing resources, programs, and services consistent with the landscape of a given locale. The advantage of not constraining program dimensions allows T.E.A.M. Granada to encompass the locally identified needs and challenges intrinsic to the city of Granada and country of Nicaragua. 2) Local Leadership- T.E.A.M. Granada gives voice and value to the ideas of young local leaders. By providing a program framework and the ongoing support of qualified coaches and educators from some of the best Universities in the U.S., T.E.A.M. Granada enables Nicaraguan community members to articulate and implement authentic goals and directions. 3)Responsible Resource Management- T.E.A.M. Granada has proven itself willing and able to maximize its resources. With this comes a commitment to minimal overhead and administrative costs, prioritizing the financial support of Nicaraguan employees, and continual re-evaluation of essential program costs. 4) Cross-cultural connections- Through our intern program and annual camp, T.E.A.M. Granada connects top current and former US college players and coaches to the girls of Granada, providing role models and enhancing cross-cultural understanding.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In a place where these opportunities did not exist, T.E.A.M. Granada provides: 1) Soccer opportunities that develop physical literacy, teach the value of belonging to a team, and provide an avenue to form lasting friendships 2) Education opportunities that stimulate intellectual curiosity, support emotional growth, and encourage healthy choices. 3) Leadership opportunities that foster self-esteem, communication skills, and the ability to work with others toward a common goal 4) Cultural opportunities that allow youth to interact and explore the diverse experiences of others. To maximize these opportunities T.E.A.M. Granada provides access to: a. Equipment to enhance play and facilitate skill-development b. Consistent programming led by trained coaches and supportive mentors c. Information about physical health and well-being d. A safe, girl-centered space at the T.E.A.M. Granada office e. A positive peer group and the opportunity to make new friends. f. Social capital that opens new doors g. Information about local community resources and broader educational opportunities At the grassroots level, we consistently support our membership of more than 300 local girls from Granada with activities six days per week. Additionally, we have provided equipment support to thousands in Nicaragua, basic soccer instruction to hundreds through the Granada school system, and instructional training to dozens of physical education teachers and aspiring coaches. T.E.A.M. Granada has also connected more than 80 current and former US college players and coaches to this community. As a result, thousands of female athletes now have greater access to equipment and sports, hundreds identify the FSF community as a central part of their lives, and many community leaders are better equipped to be supportive coaches and mentors who can responsibly use soccer as a tool for positive youth development.
About You
Organization:
Futbol Sin Fronteras
Section 1: About You
First Name

Mary

Last Name

McVeigh

Website
Organization

Soccer Without Borders

Country

, CA, Alameda County

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Futbol Sin Fronteras

Organization Phone

011 505 8763 5618

Organization Address

Calle St. Lucia/Calle Guzman, Casa Celeste, FSF, Granada

Organization Country

, GR

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, GR

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

Our weekly schedule is:
Monday:
-Directors, interns, and coaches plan the week’s events around the monthly theme
Tuesday:
-Morning gym class at local school
-Afternoon skills practice
Wednesday:
-Office hours in the afternoon
-Evening activity: “Girls’ night”
Thursday:
-Morning gym class at local school
-Afternoon outreach at a rural school
-Evening activity: “Language night"
Friday:
-Office hours in the afternoon
-Evening activity: “Arts and Crafts night”
Saturday:
-Coaches meeting prior to practice
-Morning soccer practice
-Point exchanges for equipment
-Girls for a Change meeting
-Evening activity: “Movie night”
Sunday:
-Advanced girls team game day

These activities are lead by 10 Nicaraguan staff members and 2-3 US interns (sometimes supported by other short term volunteers). By attending events, girls may earn points which they may then trade for equipment after practice each Saturday. Available equipment includes: sneakers, cleats, flats, shirts, shorts, sports bras, balls, bags, hair ties, and hats.

Results

Some of our highlights include:
1)Expansion of events to 6 days per week
2)Promotion of Youth Leader Cesar Morales (age 24) to Coaching Director.
3)Selection of Educational Director Suyen Largaespada (age 25) to represent SWB/FSF at the EULAC Youth Summit in Madrid.
4)Addition of "Language night" that successfully taught each girl to write her name and birthdate, a skill that less than half of new members could previously complete.
5)Improved soccer ability of our "grandes" group (ages 14-18) and their subsequent invitation to a newly established FIFA league.
6)Completion of four Coaching Courses that trained 34 coaches in Granada.
7)"Teaming up" with Team Up For Youth for a coaching course.
8)Equipping new leagues in the cities of Jalapa and Balgue, and teams in Diriamba, Managua, and Granada.
8)Competition against and equipment support of the U-20 Nicaraguan Women's National team.
9)Sponsorship of Yelba Sirias, a T.E.A.M. Granda Youth Leader and player in her selection to the Nicaraguan U-20 National team and subsequent participation in World Cup pre-qualifiers in El Salvador.
10)Election of 2 FSF Youth Leaders to return to secondary school.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Over the next 3 years T.E.A.M. Granada will continue progressing on the SWB Project Life Cycle:
Phase 1. Needs Assessment and Site Evaluation: Identify target population and specific needs, assess feasibility.
Phase 2. Initial Programming: Send trained volunteers, initiate soccer programming with target groups, build local relationships and partnerships, evaluate initial program success.
Phase 3. Consistent Programming: Establish a structured schedule providing programming to identified groups, train and give responsibility to local coaches/educators, evaluate program consistency and reception, assess infrastructure and identify objectives for year-round programming.
Phase 4. Year-round SWB presence: Structure roles for local leaders, expand programming, send year-round interns, implement regular staff trainings, establish non-soccer component and long-term funding plan.
Phase 5. Program Expansion: Offer program to new age groups, genders, and geographic areas, increase responsibilities for local staff, recruit additional local staff, secure funding source for project salaries.
Phase 6. Transition to Local Leadership: Hire local program director, increase responsibilities for local program staff, reduce volunteer responsibilities, identify local sources of funding.
Phase 7. Sustained by Local Leadership: Program attendance remains consistent and expands over time, reduction of volunteer presence to special events and short term trips, support by SWB USA “as needed”.

In 2010, T.E.A.M. Granada embarks on Phase 5 of the SWB Project Life Cycle. The major goals of 2010 include:
-Increase our presence country-wide through coaches clinics and equipment support
-Continue the search for full-time local program director
-Search for a bigger space to host activities, allowing us to increase membership in Granada
-Search for a safer and more permanent field space
-Further expand and solidify on and off-field curricula
In 2011, in Phase 6, major investments include:
-Training of the local program director in the areas of monitoring and evaluation, administration and tracking of financials, and facilitating partnerships
-Re-evaluation of curricula
-Identification of sustainable local and international funding sources
In 2012, in Phase 7, we aim to:
-Withdraw year-round interns
-Operate entirely under the direction of local leadership

What would prevent your project from being a success?

If success is defined by progress toward sustainability, then the major hurdles we need to overcome are identifying, cultivating, and maintaining sustainable physical, financial, and human resources.
The main physical obstacle is the lack of accessible and safe soccer fields in Granada. We currently use the outfield of a baseball park, a fenced futsal field, and/or a general park field. All have safety and grooming issues, making them far from ideal in cultivating the interest, comfort level, and talent of the girls. In addition, physical distance and access to transportation is an obstacle that currently prevents attendance from girls who live outside of Granada's central neighborhoods.
The main financial obstacle is the project’s reliance on outside fundraising, as opposed to local funding sources or income generating activities. Our funding plan for 2010 and beyond, however, includes provisions which address this. Implementing this plan requires the attention of full-time staff members. SWB is moving in the direction of full-time staff, but is simultaneously growing in scope.
The major human resource obstacle is the search for a local program director. Finding an individual with the appropriate coaching, teaching, verbal and written communication, and computer skills to administer the program has proven incredibly difficult. In addition to these learned skills, reliability, loyalty, resistance to peer pressure, and an ability to conceptualize and embrace the growth of a girls program is difficult to find. Other human resource obstacles include a slight imbalance in the male/female ratio of our Nicaraguan staff (7 male, 3 female)

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

In what country?

, GR

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Soccer Without Borders

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Often times building a local initiative from the ground up tempts you to reinvent the wheel, adjusting to local challenges and addressing local needs. While this adaptability has been a primary strength of Soccer Without Borders and TEAM Granada in particular, thoughtful partnerships have provided critical ideas to address specific areas, and saved a lot of time and effort in rediscovering best practices that have already proven successful.

In particular, three partnerships have benefited TEAM Granada, and one future partnership is also expected to have a tremendous impact:
1) Team Up for Youth (www.teamupforyouth.org)- This partnership provides insight into research on Youth Development principles and coaches training.
2) Girls for a Change (www.girlsforachange.org)- Forming a GFC/FSF action team was the perfect way to further invest in the group of older girls in the program who had exhibited a social consciousness and embraced the learning activities.
3) Hotel Con Corazon (http://www.hotelconcorazon.com)- HCC is located adjacent to FSF in Granada, providing additional space for activities in exchange for coaching support at the site of their tutoring program.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1) SUSTAINABLE FUNDING- The "future partnership with potential for a large impact" is a partnership with the Challenge Soccer Club in Texas (www.challengesoccer.com/) has the potential to provide both sustainable funding for TEAM Granada and direct cultural exchange in the form of a "sister club". The Challenge is an all-girls club in the Houston area that will raise funds for TEAM Granada on a team-by-team basis, by planning community action events to better their own communities and support their peers in Granada at the same time. Right now, the entire cost of T.E.A.M. Granada (excepting volunteer personal living costs) is less than $20,000, making a sustainable source a very achievable goal in the next 12 months.
2)FULL-TIME OVERSIGHT- To date, TEAM Granada has operated under the guidance of US volunteers and Nicaraguan employees. Two major actions are needed to responsibly grow this initiative, a full-time Nicaraguan Director, and expanded US staff, particularly in the area of outreach/development. Funding is the major obstacle for the expanded US staff, while time and education level are the major obstacles for a full-time Nicaraguan Director. Right now we have two 3/4 time Nicaraguan Directors, but neither has the capacity to take on a full Directorship. Investing in a search for or the training of a Nicaraguan Director is critical to the growth of the program.
3) EXPANDED LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE- The three major pieces of physical infrastructure that affect our program in Granada are field space, office/activity space, and transportation. Investment in safe and accessible field space would drastically improve the experience for our players as well as give us more flexibility in scheduling and possibly create sustainable funding opportunities. Renting a larger office space would not only improve the experience for the girls (many events are overcrowded) but also allow us to resume recruitment of new girls. Finally, recruitment of new girls from new areas of Granada requires access to transportation to and from activities. In particular, our educational office activities take place in the evenings; providing safe transportation to and from the activities is a critical obstacle to overcome in accessing girls beyond a reasonable walking distance.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

In 2006, I traveled to Argentina to watch the South American World Cup Qualifiers. Seeing the state of women's soccer in Latin America, at its highest level, it occurred to me how fortunate I had been to play soccer in a post-Title IX United States. Simultaneously, I was coaching a player from Colombia on my college team, who provided some insight into the parallels between how women's sports are viewed, and how women in general are viewed. Thinking back to when I first started playing, I remember living in Hamburg, Germany at age 7, truly catching the soccer bug for the first time. At the time, 1988, even German girls' soccer was wholly underdeveloped and largely disproportionate to the opportunities available to boys. I ended up playing for a boys team during my two years in Hamburg. It's amazing to think that 20 years later, the German Women's National Team sits atop the crowd as World Cup Champions. Even more important than on-field success, the last 20 years have seen women emerge as leaders in career sectors where previously they were never seen. Sports empower women, I'm convinced of it, and simultaneously affect the perception of women by men.

First visiting Granada in 2008, it was apparent that there is a large void of programming, particularly sports programming, for girls. Previously, SWB had built a strong support network in the Granada sports community through men's sports, and it seemed time to launch efforts at filling that void. Rather than approach this task as an amorphous attempt at outreach, we developed models of approaching it from the top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in, each of which has presented challenges, but grown tremendously over time. If there was one moment that made the work come to life at the beginning, it was holding our first practice with the one team of older girls who played competitively. Just four girls showed up, all without proper clothing and footwear, and one with no shoes at all. The one without shoes, Yelba, is an orphan who has grown up in a shack with 13 other people. The house was located adjacent to a soccer field, so she had spent a lot of her free time jumping into pick-up games with men at the field. Despite the hard ground and lack of shoes, it was obvious that Yelba (15 at the time) was a good player. Investing in Yelba and other girls like her, or who could grow up to be like her, has been one of the most incredible pieces of our work in Granada. In the two years since she came barefoot to that practice, Yelba has been identified by the U-20 Nicaraguan Women's National team and traveled well beyond the Granada city limits to represent herself, her city, and her country. She has also become a mentor for younger girls, completed four Futbol Sin Fronteras coaches' trainings and assisting in weekly learning events.

The moments that inspire this project are endlessly building upon one another, helping us define and redefine its scope to meet the needs of these incredible girls with whom we work.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

This idea has grown through the year-round work of several individuals and the contributions of dozens of volunteers, all of whom have left a legacy of ideas, hard work, and positive changes. As such, I feel more like a facilitator for innovation by all of those who have invested in FSF, both Nicaraguans and Americans. Women's college soccer players and coaches, professional players, teachers, community leaders, club coaches, high school players, graduate students in health, friends and family members of SWB staff have all come together in a seemingly unprecedented collaboration of ideas across boundaries that might keep us apart in the United States. Local Nicaraguans have worked closely with each other and with volunteers to provide insight and input as to how to approach some of the obstacles we have faced. Personally, my background as a former college soccer player, a professional player both in the US and abroad, a college coach, an undergraduate Philosophy student, and a graduate student in Sociology have provided me with a unique perspective from which to facilitate this collaboration and keep it moving in a purposeful direction.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

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