By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) — Inside a small gym in East Boston, big dreams and special bonds are being formed through a game and program called Soccer Without Borders.

“You feel like you are in a safe environment. The players are like your brothers, the coaches are like your fathers,” Luis from the Dominican Republic said.

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Soccer Without Borders in East Boston is a non-profit that uses soccer as vehicle for positive change — providing refugees from war-torn areas of the world the skills they need to succeed.

“Soccer Without Borders is all about family and team,” director Lindsay Whitford said. “We are here to inspire great decisions on and off the soccer field.”

Fifteen-year-old Tania is from El Salvador.

Tania, a member of Soccer Without Borders (WBZ)

Tania, a member of Soccer Without Borders (WBZ)

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“My best friend got killed down there and so it wouldn’t be a good environment for me,” Tania said. “I feel like I belong here because I met new people, new faces from new cultures.”

Soccer Without Borders is more than just the game of soccer, it also stresses academics. Some are of the kids are just learning to speak English. The program helps them develop the leadership and social skills that carry them far beyond the game.

Players having fun during a game at Soccer Without Borders (WBZ)

Players having fun during a game at Soccer Without Borders (WBZ)

“All of our drills, we write them with an English language component and we use the English language learning curriculum levels,” coach Rachael Cooper said.

Many of the kids have big dreams and goals and are grateful for the opportunity to attend the program.

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“In the future I want to be a soccer player and after that I want to be a detective,” Yajaira from El Salvador said.

Paul Burton