Hassell Chavez is a coach and adviser at Soccer Without Borders in Granada, Nicaragua.
She first joined Soccer Without Borders as a participant, playing soccer for the first time. She quickly earned the respect of her teammates and coaches for her intelligence, passion, and integrity. After graduating from the program and high school, Chavez became an assistant coach, giving back to the program and inspiring younger girls to get involved. She is now a head coach of the Mariposa Jr. team (ages 9-11), one of the only organized girls teams of that age group in the entire country.
Off the field, Chavez serves as an adviser in the Soccer Without Borders education and scholarship program, overseeing homework hours and providing academic and social support to scholarship recipients. Taking the initiative to become fluent in English, last year Chavez was chosen for the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace Leadership Camp, an honor for the program and a testament to her investment in developing English skills and her commitment to advancing opportunities for girls through sport. We asked her to write about why soccer can be such a crucial part of education for girls. What follows is her response in Spanish, followed by a translation below:
La educación es uno de los más grandes pilares y bases para el desarrollo de las mujeres en Nicaragua, esta ha permitido que hayan más oportunidades para las mujeres en el campo laboral, en la ciencia, en la política, en el deporte, en el arte. La educación permite a las mujeres nicaraguense a desempeñarse en labores que eran consideradas para hombres, gracias a esto, la mujer ya no es vista solamente para ser una ama de casa como lo supone la sociedad machista de Nicaragua. La educación permite a la mujer empoderarse, tomar voto y voz en la sociedad. Hoy en día se ha dispuesto que las mujeres tengan iguales condiciones e igualdad de oportunidades a como los hombres.
De mi experiencia como entrenadora y facilitadora para con las chicas del programa educativo, he notado un avance significativo en nuestras becadas, ellas han comprendido la importancia del estudio y la educación para su desarrollo, que la educación es la herramienta para sus logros como futuras profesionales, de mujeres empoderas, chicas que han aprendido que la educación es la base para el éxito. Las chicas del programa educativo han sabido aprovechar sus oportunidades y han mejorado el rendimiento escolar. Todo encaminado para hacer de ellas, las mujeres que saquen adelante a Nicaragua.
Education is one of the most important pillars and foundations for the development of women in Nicaragua. Access to it has allowed women and girls more opportunities in the farming, science, politics, sports and arts fields. Getting an education allows Nicaraguan women to break through into careers that are traditionally dominated by men. Thanks to this, women are no longer seen only as the housewives that Nicaragua's traditionally machista society expects them to be. Education allows women to empower themselves and have a stake and voice in society. These days, Nicaraguan women are seen as equal to men, and are afforded the same opportunities as men.
As a soccer coach and facilitator for the Soccer Without Borders education program for girls, I've noticed a significant increase in our players attaining scholarships. The girls have grown to understand the importance of studying for their development. They now know that education is the tool that they need to reach their future professional goals as empowered women who know that education is the basis for success. The girls of Soccer Without Borders know to take advantage of opportunities and continue to improve their scholastic performance. The women of Nicaragua are on track to lead our country to a brighter future.