A Quiet Strength:
Interview with Alice

Written by Brianna Canty

We at Girls Soccer Worldwide talk a lot about the heart behind all we do.

We say it is our Ambassadors—they are our driving force, they are empowerment and leadership in action, they are doing the inspiring soul work that makes a real difference. And they truly are. Our GSWW Ambassadors are the heart of our organization.

This terminology is intentional, and meaningful. We know that leadership is about the heart, not just the head. The leader you are is a direct reflection of the person you are underneath, so being a mindful leader, a heartful leader, is crucial.  When you lead from the heart, you lead with empathy, compassion, and authenticity.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown says this about leadership: “The heart of leadership is connection, and connection is about empathy, curiosity, and emotional courage.” Her quote encapsulates all that we hope for our Ambassadors, and all that we hope for “heartful” leaders around the world.

Here, we’d like to highlight one Ambassador who embodies the true heart behind our mission, our values, and our goals. She is often not the loudest in the room…but that’s not what leadership is always about. Great leaders are ones who can step back and reflect, who know the value of listening, who lead first by example.

Alice is one of our Paraguay Ambassadors and has been involved in GSWW for the last four years. In the words of our co-founder, Walter Pratte: “Alice will not do anything for herself, she will do everything for others.” He describes her as very shy and timid at the beginning, but exceedingly kind and always thinks of others first.

Walter first met Alice when she was 14 years old when she attended the soccer practices that GSWW helped start in Coronel Bogado. Maria Lujan, our Program Manager in Paraguay, invited Alice to help with one of the community projects at a local school, Calle 6, in 2020. And the rest is history.

Now almost 20 years old, Alice is a thoughtful, intentional, and compassionate young woman. Because of her work with GSWW over the last several years, Alice feels like much has changed for her.

“A lot has changed. For example, before I knew Walter, I was much shyer, much quieter. After, doing the projects for the organization (GSWW), it made me talk with more people. It made a bit of my quietness leave. Now, I am much freer in expressing myself. I’m not staying in the background and looking while others talk. Now I am talking more.”

A skill we focus on and drive home in our Ambassador workshops and leadership programs is the ability to speak publicly. This skill is not reflective of extroversion or introversion; it is a skill like any other that requires persistence, commitment, and confidence.

What started as a challenge for Alice became a strength. Because she is a quieter young woman, when she does speak, people listen. She commands their attention and focus, is poised and thoughtful in her words, and believes her voice matters.

GSWW has also helped Alice in the area of education.

Alice credits the opportunities and support from GSWW with her ability to stay in school, focus on her studies, and graduate. She is currently in her second year of college studying business management and finance, a career path she loves.

In working with GSWW, Alice’s passion for finance grew. She has helped with the accounting for the Paraguay operations for the last several years, and in doing so, realized her dream is to one day own her own accounting firm.

Now in college, Alice has taken a step back from her responsibilities with GSWW in order to pursue this dream. She is currently working with an accounting firm in Encarnación, where she attends school, and is taking classes full-time.

“Without this organization, I believe that there wouldn’t have been the capacity, that I wouldn’t have had the possibility, that I have now to go to university and study the subject that I love,” Alice said.

One thing Alice will always do is think of others. Though she may not readily accept the help herself, she does all she can to ensure that those in her community and those most in need receive the help they deserve.

“I always had hopes that I would help people, but I never could because I didn’t have the resources,” Alice recalled. “But in working with the organization (GSWW), I could focus on helping the people who needed it.”

At her core, Alice is a kind, selfless, and inspiring young woman. She has seen the programs, the opportunities, that GSWW has to offer and wants only to help others with them.

Walter observed how Alice is crucial in paving the way for the success of the programs in Paraguay, like food kits, the backpacks, and financial assistance. “When we go into communities, it’s the way she is able to speak to the families,” he said. “She stands tall, speaks to them, and tells them they need to do this. This is going to give you a future.”

When you become a leader, that power, that authority, reveals the person you are underneath. Leadership is as much the example that you set as it is the way you treat and interact with others. It is about connection.

The three qualities Brené Brown listed that are crucial for the connection needed in good leaders are empathy, compassion, and authenticity.

Alice has all three in spades.

“(GSWW) helped me get to know myself. It made me feel more confident in myself and more confident in what I can do tomorrow.”

There were doors opened for her because of GSWW; but it was Alice who seized those opportunities and ran. She is where she is today, with her whole future ahead of her, because of her hard work and perseverance.

Alice also made sure that the doors opened for her stayed open behind her. The resources and support that enabled her to graduate and attend university, to give back and help her community, she ensures are there to help every little girl who comes after her. Because, at the end of it all, Alice’s strength is her heart. Her heart is what guides her and what makes her such an impactful leader. Her generosity of spirit, her warmth, and her selflessness have helped her change the lives of countless people in her community.

There is no limit to what can be achieved when we are first and fundamentally kind. One need only watch Alice succeed to know it to be true.

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