“Grassroots: Gratitude and Growth“
Written by Brianna Canty
On Friday afternoons in Livermore, California, girls of all ages mill about the futsal court. There are our Girls Soccer Worldwide Ambassadors, high school student-athletes with workshop materials and soccer balls in hand; young girls between the ages of 6 and 13, eagerly awaiting the events of the next hour; and there are parents, moms mostly, with their eyes fixed on the faces of their children.
This is a space for community, for change.
Seventy five minutes each week where girls are empowering girls.
In the Beginning
The Grassroots Program began in October of 2020 when COVID was in full-swing. The shutting down of the world created an unexpected lull in which Pamela and Walter were able to dedicate the time and effort needed to build their new program.
It was designed to go hand in hand with our Ambassador for Change Leadership program. The concept of “girls empowering girls” would come to fruition with the Ambassadors leading discussions for girls in their own community on confidence, courage, character, and compassion. It is open for 6–13 year old’s to play soccer, connect with other girls their age, and participate in leadership workshops.
Pamela describes Grassroots as, “a space for girls of all ages to show up and engage in positive conversation” around topics on “self-worth and value” in order to “build confidence.”
The opportunities it yields are two-fold. For the Ambassadors, it provides them opportunities to focus on their own development as leaders, to give back to their communities, and to become mentors for the young girls in the workshops. For the girls, it offers opportunities for connection, for growth, and for self-discovery. Most importantly, it helps them build the confidence, courage, character, and compassion needed to use their voice for change in their own community.
It is the investment, and re-investment, of love into the places we call home.
Fulfilling a Need: Bringing What We Do Home
In Livermore, California, there are three Title I schools within five minutes of downtown. Between 60-80% of the student population in each one qualifies for financial assistance, categorized by free and reduced lunch. Oftentimes we look at poverty with a global view to our own disadvantage; it does not appear the same everywhere.
“We didn’t just want to keep our focus internationally,” Pamela explains. “There is poverty in our own backyard, [and] we knew that there was a purpose for us to be able to bring the program home.”
Today, the Grassroots Program is filling an identified need in the Livermore community. It offers a space for young girls to be vulnerable and grow in a safe environment, to learn to believe in themselves, and to give them the tools to become strong leaders. This program is possible only because of our amazing donors: donations cover the cost of the venue, equipment and workshop materials, and food for the young girls.
Looking ahead, Pamela and Walter want to deepen GSWW’s connection to the community. They want to offer the Grassroots workshops at multiple locations, to address accessibility concerns, and more than once a week to meet demand.
The mothers and families of the young girls recognize the importance of these workshops. They are seeing their daughters believe in their voices and gain the confidence needed for widespread change. But even more importantly, the girls who have been coming to these workshops for over two years are now at an age where they can apply to become Ambassadors themselves.
Grassroots and Our Ambassadors
One of the most important aspects of the Grassroots Program is the fact that it is Ambassador-led. Each week, our Ambassadors work together to decide where to take the conversation, what verbiage to use, and what activity to lead during the workshop. This design was intentional; by empowering our Ambassadors to spearhead challenging conversations in safe spaces, they are learning by teaching. They get as much out of the workshops as the young participants.
For the girls who show up every week, they derive increased value from the workshops because they are being led by girls similar in age. This relatability fosters a deeper connection and a more truthful discussion.
Why do our Ambassadors choose to become a part of the Ambassador for Change Program? One word: Grassroots. As Pamela puts it: “there’s something that makes our hearts come alive when we know we can pour into another girl… [the Ambassadors] leave the workshops with hearts full, feeling fulfilled.”
During our Grassroots workshops, our Ambassadors are showing up in love, their hearts on fire, hoping to make an impact. In turn, the young girls show up with their own love, their own dedication, minds open, and curious.
More Than Soccer
Though soccer plays a role in our Grassroots program, these young girls do not have to be soccer players to be a part of the experience. It is not a prerequisite, but a gateway. Just as we’ve said before, soccer is the language we speak in order to connect with girls, families, and communities.
GSWW is not a soccer club, it is a movement.
In our Grassroots Program, we use soccer to create a pathway for these young girls to discover who they are, push the limits of what they think is possible, and ultimately impact who they will become. It is as much about instilling confidence in our Ambassadors as it is growing the confidence of the girls who show up every week.
“We use soccer as a gateway to open conversations that lead to life-changing experiences for the girls that work in our program.” -Pamela
Hearts and Magic
“Grassroots is the beginning of something great,” Walter said on last week’s Instagram Live. And it is: something great and just the beginning. Just a little over two years old, Grassroots has become a key component of the Ambassador for Change Leadership Program and an embodiment of showing up in love, being brave, and focusing on community. It is where girls are empowering girls, where confidence abounds, where love multiplies.
Our Ambassadors are our heart, Grassroots is where the magic happens.
Girls Soccer Worldwide!
Previous Blog: “Understanding the Need That Fuels Our Change Making”
For more information on our Grassroots Programs: Bay Area/Livermore Website, International Website
To learn more about Girls Soccer Worldwide and what we do, click here.
[…] week, we published a blog about our amazing Bay Area Grassroots Program. It is a weekly event for girls ages 6-13 from […]