The Power of Soccer to Change the World

Woza Soccer recently held its first Impact Series event right here in Seattle! We created the Woza Soccer Impact series in attempt to expand the reach of our mission beyond our summer programs. We want to start conversations on how we can use soccer here in Seattle to better serve our community. The series is a way for people in Seattle to start engaging with soccer as a means of education and empowerment. Our goal is to bring the Seattle soccer community together by using the game to raise awareness of soccer’s amazing transformative power and to benefit marginalized communities here in Seattle and abroad.

 

The event earlier this week featured a speech my Woza team-member Matt and a screening of the film Pelada - a documentary tracing the adventures of two former college soccer players as they traveled around the world using soccer as their passport.

 

If you're interested in attending or helping plan future events, please visit our Facebook page or contact matt@wozasoccer.com.

 

Read the full speech below

 

The Power of Soccer to Change the World

A Speech by: Matt Ayres

 

I believe in the power of soccer to change the world. I believe it because I have seen and shared in moments where soccer has been more than just a game I played, but a game that changed lives. This realization of how powerful and positive an influence soccer can be has inspired a rebirth of passion for the game. Soccer has become a way for me to give back to my communities and help make this world a more tolerant and open-minded place.

 

We have all heard of soccer being the world’s most popular sport; our world’s universal language, but what does that really mean? To Woza, that means soccer has a unique ability to connect, educate, and empower entire groups of people, all over the world. It has the ability to breakdown racial, social, and cultural barriers; the potential to lead and enable people onto better lives. It’s in that potential we are presented with a certain responsibility to view this sport as more than just a game, but to use it to make positive social impact around world. That is what we as an organization believe, and that is the mission of this impact series; to use this game and the unique connective power it has, to inspire people of all backgrounds to use soccer for positive social impact right here in Seattle.

 

Historically, this idea of using sports as a development and peace strategy can be traced all the way back to antiquity when the Olympic Truce was created to establish a peace between warring tribes, which then allowed their athletes to compete in the games. However, it wasn’t until the turn of the 21st century that this area of international development, known as Sport for Development and Peace, was officially recognized by the UN. Specifically, the UN uses their office of Sport for Development and Peace to help achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. Since the early 2000’s, organizations around the world have begun to use sport for the empowerment and betterment of their communities.

 

 

Two notable examples of how organizations around the world are successfully using soccer in a SDP context would include the Mifalot Education and Society Enterprises that uses soccer to inspire peace and coexistence between the many groups in Israel and the surrounding region.  The other would be Grassroots Soccer, which is an organization that uses soccer to provide HIV and health education to various communities around Southern Africa. What some of you may not realize is that we have SDP organizations doing incredible work right here in Seattle. A perfect example is Seattle Street Soccer, which uses soccer to educate the homeless community about health and life skills in an attempt to empower them to create a better life for themselves.

 

Woza soccer is also a SDP nonprofit and our mission is to use the game to create connections across cultures and support sport for development and peace organizations around the world. We strive to broaden perspectives of players by demonstrating their abilities to connect with people of all backgrounds and engage long term in soccer focused social impact. In attempt to expand the reach of that mission beyond our summer programs, we have created the Woza Soccer Impact Series as a way for us to start a conversation on how we can use soccer here in Seattle to better serve our community. It’s a way for people in Seattle to start engaging with soccer as a means of education and empowerment. Our goal is to bring the Seattle soccer community together by using the game to raise awareness of soccer’s amazing transformative power and to benefit marginalized communities here in Seattle and abroad.

 

Now I want you to think back to the idea of soccer being the world’s universal language; the world’s most popular sport; it’s those two facts that make soccer the most powerful SDP tool in the world. Seattle is the soccer city of America and we have one of the most vibrant soccer cultures in our country. We have an opportunity to help make this world a more tolerant and open-minded place using the sport we all love so much. It is my hope, that this is the start of the Seattle soccer community uniting around the game and using soccer for positive social impact right here in our city as well as abroad.

 

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