Soccer plays a unique role at Oakland International High School. While OIHS students speak more than 32 different first languages, they all share the language of soccer. Through soccer, OIHS students build authentic cross-cultural relationships that play a key role in helping new students adjust to their lives in the US. These friendships carry over to the school day, proving vital in helping de-escalate conflict and building a harmonious school environment.
Since 2007, OIHS has partnered with the Oakland based non-profit organization Soccer Without Borders (SWB) to lead soccer programming at the school. SWB uses soccer as a vehicle of positive change, providing refugee and immigrant youth a toolkit for growth, inclusion and personal success. At OIHS, SWB leverages students’ passion for soccer to ensure they are successful off the field. Since 2008, 95% of regular participants in the SWB program have graduated from OIHS. Since 2008, more than 200 female OIHS students have been supported to join their first ever organized sports team. In spite of the successes of the soccer program at OIHS, the lack of consistent facilities has proven to be a tremendous barrier. With Temescal Fields, the potential of soccer to help OIHS students and other Oakland youth to reach their full potential will expand significantly.