This week’s Baltimore City Paper profiles the Baltimore chapter of Soccer Without Borders (SWB), an international sports program that uses soccer to engage underserved immigrant communities that was brought to Baltimore City by 2011 OSI-Baltimore Fellow, Jill Pardini.
In Baltimore, SWB is an after school and summer sports program that includes “soccer, homework help, dinner and a ride home,” for boy and girls ages 5-21 who are refugees, political asylum-seekers and immigrants. In 2011, Pardini’s goal was to expand the tutoring, mentoring, cultural-awareness and youth development aspects of the program to help refugees adjust to life in the United States, succeed in and out of school.
In 2017, under the current presidential administration, the program has taken on new importance for many of its young participants, giving them much-needed stability and confidence, in many cases.
“It’s more than just soccer,” Pardini had said of her project. The students have a place where they “feel safe, where they have this camaraderie, where they have each other’s back. They have a sense of knowing so many more people and being able to identify with others.”
Read more about SWB in our Impact Series, More Than Just Soccer.