Lifelong football player Nora Pasheva was born in central Bulgarian city Stara Zagora and grew up in a small orphanage with seven other children. Without family support, life could be difficult for Nora and the other children.

“Life was hard but with hard work, perseverance and determination, now I live a normal life,” Nora said.

Football has been a constant in Nora’s life, giving her opportunities to go to new places and make new friends and create a ‘football family’ of her own.

“I’ve loved football since I was a child. Football is my passion. Sharing the emotion and experience with my teammates is what makes it special.”

As a teenager, Nora moved to the capital, Sofia, to join the National Sports Academy and now plays regularly for an amateur women’s team.

“Sport gave me the chance to have a new beginning in life.”

While playing at the National Sports Academy she met fellow player Iva Radkova, who coached the Team of Hope project. The Team of Hope project is run by our Bulgarian partner Sports Management Bulgaria.

It gives participants an opportunity to build confidence and plan for their futures while also playing football and having the chance to represent Bulgaria at international tournaments.

“It was a step forward in my life”, Nora said.

In September 2021 Nora represented Bulgaria at the European Life Goals Games in Utrecht, run by our Dutch partner Stichting Life Goals.

But joining the team wasn’t easy for Nora. It was very intimidating at first.

“I didn’t like the first training session with the team because I was worried; it was something new for me. But with each workout, I began to adjust to the rules and to the girls.

In a short period of time, we managed to master each action of the game and reach a higher level. It was very motivating. The team spirit and playing the game to the end, we gave a lot, and we were ready to prove it, because ‘success lies in unity’.”

As well as building her confidence on the pitch, it’s also given her confidence in her future.

The Team of Hope project, Nora explains, helped her to develop “responsibility, discipline and confidence”.

“I didn’t have a clear vision of my life. Now I have an idea of what I want and how to achieve it.”

Before she came to Sofia she was living in an institution for children and young people without parents, when she arrived in the capital, she lived in a student hostel for more than a year.

In February 2022, she rented a small apartment with her sister and like every other 20-year-old is excited for her future filled with more adventures.

“The main goal now is developing my career, traveling, dating and continuing to have these happy moments.”

Sports Management Bulgaria are our national partner in Bulgaria. Every year through their ‘Team of Hope’ project they help hundreds of girls like Nora to have access to football and grow in confidence and gain new skills.

Words: Rebecca Corbett
Images: Sports Management Bulgaria