Former Ute Visits Nicaragua with Soccer Without Borders

SALT LAKE CITY - Former University of Utah women's soccer player Christine Quinn recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua with the Soccer Without Borders (SWB) organization. She joined several other current and former collegiate players from across the United States, representing such schools as Auburn, Penn State, Dartmouth, Marist and Lewis & Clark, for SWB's Spring Infusion effort.

Below are some of Christine's thoughts regarding the trip and the SWB efforts.

Volunteering down in Nicaragua with Soccer Without Borders was by far one of the best things that I have ever done. It was so much fun and I got to meet some really cool people. Working with the kids was a blast. They have so much energy. I was worn out every day! I really miss some of them. Throughout the trip we got to visit many schools. We worked with boys and girls trying to get more involved in the program and we were able to recruit several new members, which was very exciting.

Everyone is crazy about soccer down there, you see it all over. Playing soccer with the kids on the street, in parks and on dirt fields was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Another highlight was when the volunteers got to scrimmage against the Nicaraguan Women's National Team. All of the volunteers are former college soccer players, so we had a pretty good team and ended up winning 3-1! We even got all the young girls in the program to cheer for us instead of their national team, haha!

Other highlights of the trip included learning Spanish, playing Nicaraguan games with the kids at night, feeding parrots coconut by hand, seeing wild monkeys, touring the 365 islands in Lake Nicaragua, and just exploring the country.

One of the biggest things I took away from this trip came from the people there. They have very little...Nicaragua is a third-world country and currently the second poorest in Central America...but the people are happy! Everyone is so kind, friendly, and full of life, despite their situation. Life is pretty care free and laid back. They look for and develop the important things in life, including their families and their relationships with others.

I just loved Nicaragua! It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I hope to be able to go back down there again someday.

An excerpt from SWB's Mission and Vision Statement reads: "...Soccer Without Borders' mission is to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of marginalized youth. Our vision is to provide all youth program participants the opportunity to realize their inherent potential..."

For more information on Soccer Without Borders, please visit www.soccerwithoutborders.org.

Additional Information on Soccer Without Borders' Nicaragua Site
Soccer Without Borders began working in Granada, a city in southwestern Nicaragua, in the fall of 2006. Initially, SWB made contact with local leaders of sport and soccer and began running soccer and life-skills sessions with boys' teams in the area. Over the next year, SWB continued to support soccer in Granada by providing equipment, hosting clinics for players, and training local coaches. Then, in the winter of 2008, SWB Nicaragua recognized a unique need in the city, and began focusing specifically on the involvement of girls in soccer.

In the intervening years, the program continued to attract more young women for activities both on and off the field. January 2011 marked a major transition in the program from open membership to having age-appropriate, registered teams who spent the last 4 months training and participating in office activities together as a group for the first-ever SWB season. Opportunities for team membership in Granada are rare, if not unheard of, for girls and young women, and this season provided a unique starting point to change that. Currently, SWB hosts 3 teams in local leagues in Granada -- The Butterflies are ages 6-10, The Stars are ages11-15, and The Nicas are ages 16 and up.

Courtesy UtahUtes.com

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