Soccer builds teamwork, empowers women

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Mark Kabban and Awista Ayub have both used soccer, or “the beautiful game,” to positively impact children’s lives around the globe.

In soccer, a “give-and-go” is one of the most fundamental plays. One player passes the ball to a teammate, who in turn takes one or two touches and passes it back. Meanwhile the first player bypasses defenders and moves down the field. This play, like many others in football, not only relies on communication between the players, but also confidence and trust in one another.

It’s no surprise then that soccer has been used by countless organizations and celebrities as a tool for positive change, particularly for children dealing with the aftermath of violence, war, poverty and political turmoil in their native countries.

Mark Kabban of the San Diego-based nonprofit YALLA or Youth and Leaders Living Actively, uses the sport as a hook to help immigrant and refugee children rebuild their lives in the United States and see college as a realistic goal.

Awista Ayub, the founder of the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange, introduced soccer to Afghan girls in the immediate aftermath of the war in Afghanistan and also sparked a movement for female empowerment. She’s written about her story in her book, Kabul Girls Soccer Club.

“I think that sports really do create a structure for young girls to feel confident in who they are,” Ayub said.

Kabban, Ayub, and Osama Abdulazeez, one of YALLA’s many participants, join the show to talk about the sport and its life-changing impact on children’s lives. Follow YALLA on Twitter @YALLASD

“We’re using that competitive juice that they have and putting it in the classroom,” Kabban said. “And it’s really exciting to see that. My vision is to be at Osama’s graduation when he graduates from UCSD.”

Soccer builds teamwork, empowers women

Mark Kabban and Awista Ayub have both used soccer, or "the beautiful game," to positively impact children's lives around the globe.