"The Warm Heart of Africa"
July 16-August 3
Tuition does not include round-trip group flight from JFK to Malawi
*We offer need-based grants ranging from $1000-$2000 based on income, as well as full scholarships. Please visit our Grants & Scholarships page.
Become a member of Acesent soccer academy in Malawi
Play beach soccer on the shores of Lake Malawi
Go on safari in the famous Liwonde National Park
Help organize a large community soccer tournament for local players
Monday to Friday
9:00am to 5:00pm PST
Phone: (206) 900-5436
Malawi, nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa,” is a tranquil, soccer-loving country in southeastern Africa. This 19-day trip features our partner Ascent Soccer (formerly known as Chigoli), an inspiring academy using soccer to create an opportunity for Malawian children. Based in the city of Lilongwe, we’ll train with Ascent Soccer's youth academy and staff, organize a social impact soccer tournament for local clubs, and explore Malawi’s vibrant capital. Towards the end of our trip, we’ll visit the tropical shores of Lake Malawi to conduct community soccer projects, relax, and enjoy an authentic safari in Liwonde National Park.
Woza's service partner in Malawi is Ascent Soccer. The Academy is an inspiring soccer academy located in the capital city of Lilongwe. They maintain U-11 through U-17 boys squads with players receiving top-level education in soccer coaching, academics, and character development. They also have a U-15 girls team. Woza players will become full members of Ascent Soccer, train and play in friendly matches at the academy, work with staff coaches to implement local soccer clinics and see firsthand how a soccer academy can change lives. Ascent Soccer presents an innovative and exciting model for developing African talent as a means of providing real pathways out of poverty.
New York, NY (JFK)
New York, NY (JFK)
A Student's Perspective
Below is a sample itinerary which is subject to change.
Days 1-2: Trip Start
We will meet at JFK airport in New York ahead of our group flight (booked by Woza), getting to know one another through a juggling circle at our gate before departing for Malawi. After a series of flights accompanied by your trip leaders and fellow Woza players, we will land in the capital city of Lilongwe and be transported to our accommodations near Accent Academy site for a welcome dinner and some much-needed rest before beginning our adventure.
Days 3-7: Arrival, Orientation & Ascent Soccer
Our first few days will be spent getting to know Ascent Soccer and the country of Malawi. We will enjoy a Welcome Ceremony at the academy on our first day, meeting all players and staff before jumping into our daily schedule of helping to coach the academy's youngest players and training with the older teams. Most evenings we will play a friendly match in mixed teams as we get to know our Ascent Soccer teammates and the Malawian style of play. During these early days, we will begin basic Chichewa language lessons and explore a few of Lilongwe's most interesting neighborhoods.
Days 8-10: Lake Malawi
This week we'll set out for warm, tropical Lake Malawi, taking the short 2-hour drive from Lilongwe to the lakefront town of Senga. Ascent Soccer has several community partnerships in Senga and over the next few days, we will assist with organizing community soccer clinics in local villages - keeping our eyes open for talent and maybe even helping spot a future Ascent Soccer prospect! We will have some downtime to relax at our mellow beachfront accommodations, where we can play beach soccer, lounge under palm trees and watch the sunset over the lake.
Day 11: Safari
On our last day away from Lilongwe we will travel to Liwonde National Park for a true African safari in one of the region's most famous wildlife reserves. By 4x4 vehicle in the morning and riverboat in the afternoon, we will explore the area with experienced park rangers searching for the elephants, hippos, crocodiles, kudu, leopards and the occasional visiting lion.
Days 12-14: Back to Lilongwe and Ascent Soccer
After our time at Lake Malawi, we will return to Lilongwe and Ascent Soccer. Excited to see the familiar faces of Ascent Soccer's players and coaches, we will jump back into our service, coaching and training routine in the capital city. Preparations for our Community Tournament will be in full swing and we will provide assistance with final planning and setup for this exciting event.
Day 15: Community Tournament
We will participate in Ascent Soccer's Community Tournament for local teams as both event volunteers and players - gaining a glimpse into Ascent Soccer's "Football For All" commitment to give disadvantaged groups such as girls and homeless children access to competitive soccer.
Day 16: Final Day in Malawi
We will finish our time in Malawi with a day at Lilongwe's markets hunting for gifts and souvenirs (maybe a Malawian national team jersey or two!) before joining all of our Ascent Soccer friends for a final friendly match and farewell dinner at the academy.
Days 17-18: Trip End
At the end of the trip, the group will fly together back to JFK, where students will be met by family members or make connecting flights home.
Frequently Asked Questions
I cannot express how much this trip changed me. First, it changed my entire perspective on soccer. I think that it is easy to fall into the trap of soccer being a 3-days-a-week-practice, game-on-the-weekend type of event. More of an obligation than a privilege. But traveling to Malawi helped me to see how soccer is more than just a pathway in life or a hobby. But beyond soccer, my lifestyle after returning from the trip has also changed drastically.
The biggest impact on my life came from the actual kids that I met. Seeing their faces and them coming up to you, a stranger, and hugging all over you and looking up to you is a feeling that cannot even be put into words. I have always heard as a kid about "the poor kids in Africa" who are suffering and living in absolute poverty. But seeing those kids in person, meeting them, forming relationships with them and really seeing first hand the realities of their lives, changes your perspective and life entirely. I know that I am a very different person than I was before the trip and I don't think that I would ever have become the person I am now without having had that truly life-changing experience. I am forever grateful.
--Abby, Princeton, N.J., Malawi ‘17
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
College: Yale University 2016
Woza Trips: Malawi '19
Nelson moved to Brussels, Belgium, to start a Master's in Public Policy and Urban Development. Prior to his Master's degree, Nelson has worked for CBS News Radio, New York County District Attorney's Office and Alta Ski Resort. No matter where he lives, he always looks for a great pick up soccer game, and while in New York, joined the club team, Iztacalco, which participated in La Liga Latina de Brooklyn.
To learn more about Nelson visit his leader profile.
What is the weather like in Malawi?
We visit Malawi at the best time of year, when the rains have stopped and the weather is not too hot. Daytime temperatures hover around 70-80°F and drop at night, dipping into the 40-50°F range.
How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?
We will have access to showers every day. All accommodations offer hot showers, however, as is the nature of traveling in a country with less developed infrastructure, there’s always a chance of an occasional cold shower. Over the course of the 19 days, we will do laundry collectively as a group 2-3 times. We encourage students to wear things more than once before washing to cut down on packing and keep laundry efficient.
For answers to more frequently asked questions, please visit our FAQ's page.
Before You Go
International travel requires a sense of adventure, as well as prior planning and preparation. You must have a valid passport. No prior visa is required for Malawi, as we will acquire visas at the airport upon arrival. Woza Soccer strongly recommends families of students traveling abroad consult their child’s doctor and visit a travel clinic well before the start of the program to discuss options for travel-related vaccinations and medications. Woza Soccer is not a medical authority and cannot directly advise students and parents regarding travel related medications or vaccinations. As a result, Woza Soccer does not require students to obtain specific travel-related medications or vaccinations. Typically, travel to Malawi involves having up-to-date vaccines and anti-malarial medication. Again, we recommend consulting with the CDC and your child’s doctor. Once you have completed registration for a Woza trip, you will receive additional instructions from our office regarding international travel.
Travel to and from JFK
Each family is responsible for arranging transportation to and from the JFK airport during a specified window so the group can fly together to Malawi. Woza staff will be at the JFK airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure (they will be the ones with huge smiles and Woza jerseys!). If you are flying to and from your start airport, we will have you call home once you meet your leaders at the airport. Additional specific travel information, as well as the group flight itinerary, is available for all Malawi participants closer to the trip’s departure.
The Woza Experience
Woza Soccer trips are adventures full of soccer and cross-cultural connections while bonding with a new group of people and learning about the work of an inspiring local soccer partner. To provide the best immersion and group bonding experience possible, we ask that students leave their cell phones and other electronics at home (though cameras are more than welcome).
All Woza trips involve the rewarding challenge of visiting a new country and meeting new people while immersed in a different culture. Some days will be more challenging than others. We ask you to come prepared with a flexible mindset and positive attitude so if changes do occur beyond the control of you, your group, or your leaders (ex: weather, itinerary changes, or delayed travel) you can continue to contribute to an enthusiastic group, and help create a successful trip experience.