Soccer Without Borders is a non-profit organization that uses soccer as a tool for personal and community development across the world. Started by Ben Gucciardi, a SF Seals player, the organization has helped develop projects in Nicaragua, El Salvador, South Africa, and Zambia.
Ben Gucciardi is currently on leave from the San Francisco Seals of United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League and has headed off to Cape Town, Africa, home of the 2010 World Cup. He is expected to return in July for the second half of the Seals season.
The Seal’s midfielder departed the San Francisco area to assist in the development of youth soccer in Cape Town. An organization he founded, Soccer without Borders (soccerwithoutborders.org) is co-sponsoring a soccer league between 10 children’s homes from the Cape Town area. Ben is working with the teams, refereeing games, conducting coaching clinics and helping plan and the structure of the league in conjunction with several volunteers from one of the children’s homes.
The league is named for Desiree Ellis, one of the top women’s soccer players in South Africa. She is also an activist for women’s rights, particularly around issues of girl’s involvement in sport and recreation activities. Ellis embodies many of the characteristics the soccer league seeks to encourage its youth participants.
The Desiree Ellis Soccer League is currently providing a place for 135 boys and girls ages 10-17 to play the game they love. In addition to providing an enjoyable recreational activity, the soccer teams will serve as channels through which education about HIV/AIDS, general health, conflict resolution and self-esteem building can take place.
Most recently, Gucciardi found himself in Glencairn, South Africa, about an hour outside of Cape Town. He has been working with the boys and care workers from “The Homestead,” whose mission is “to help street children reconstruct their shattered lives.” Ben accompanied The Homestead team who took 80 of the boys in their care to Glencairn; a quiet place near the ocean, and away from the chaos that surrounds their daily lives.
“It was a chance for them to experience life in a safe environment,” said Gucciardi [Somewhere] they were supported by caring adults.”
The Homestead has a team participating in the Desiree Ellis Soccer League. It was at the kickoff event for the league where Ben met Gerald Jacobs, who invited Ben to participate in their camp.
”I am very grateful to all the boys and the staff from The Homestead for all the things they shared with me,” said Gucciardi.
Gucciardi is a midfielder for the San Francisco Seals. Last season he played in eight matches with the Seals, starting four times.
“Ben is a tireless midfielder,” says General Manager Tom Simpson. “His aggressive defensive work and constant work rate reflect the relentless nature of his commitment to what he does. I wish all the best to Ben in his endeavors. He deserves success.”
Learn more: soccerwithoutborders.org