Archive | 2014

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Jeong

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

In this installment of our Staff Profile, we sat down with Jeong, our Director of Operations. He is a native of South Korea and a lifelong soccer supporter.

 

Jeong Staff Profile

Jeong — Of course, I support South Korea in international competitions. Even though the team didn’t play well this World Cup, they still represented the country honorably and played with integrity and grit.

I started following the World Cup in 1994 when it was held in the USA. The South Korean team was in a group with Spain, Bolivia, and Germany. They played very well and got the entire country excited about the World Cup and soccer in general. Despite their good performances, they didn’t make it through the first round. That didn’t matter too much though, because the game had already taken hold of the country’s imagination. The popularity of soccer in Korea skyrocketed after that year’s tournament. Since the World Cup in 1994, I have been following soccer and the World Cup very closely.

In 2002, the World Cup was held in South Korea and gave me many experiences and memories which I still cherish to this day. South Korea finished fourth in that tournament (admittedly with some questionable officiating decisions).

The only thing I enjoy more than being a soccer spectator is being a soccer player. I play 2 to 3 times per week. I have been able to make a lot of friends through soccer and it is one of the best ways for me to relieve my stress.

My love of sports, especially soccer, made it easy for me to decide to move to California to study Sport Management. And when the opportunity to work at Senda arose, I did not hesitate. Working at Senda allows me to use my love of soccer for the benefit of others.

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Evan

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

In this second edition of our Staff Profile, we talked to Evan, our Social Media Marketing and Copywriting Intern.

 

Evan Profile final

Evan — The World Cup for me is about much more than the game being played on the pitch. The tournament represents both the harmony and the disunity of our current world. For a couple months every four years, thirty-two nations put aside their squabbles and come together to compete in the same tournament. Teams and players from many different nations and from diverse backgrounds temporarily forget cultural differences and play by the same rules and regulations. All teams at the World Cup start off with equal standing and strive to attain the same goal — the FIFA World Cup Trophy.

But once the tournament starts, it’s a contest between nations not just to demonstrate dominance on the pitch, but also to assert their power on the world stage. Teams stop at nothing to win games and claim the ultimate prize. The World Cup Trophy represents so much more than just soccer excellence. It is a tangible marker of your country’s economic power and standing in global politics. The World Cup allows us to play out our nationalistic rivalries in a healthy sporting environment. Soccer is both the great unifier and the great divider.

Oh yeah, one more thing, GO USA!!

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Aliénor

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

To start off our Staff Profile, we talked to Aliénor, our Outreach & Community Manager who hails from France.

Aliénor — The World Cup has been a great time and brought many good memories to our Senda offices. It has been very exciting for us to watch the games and expose our supporters to the local Brazilian perspectives. Whenever a game was on, we’d always have one eye on our work and the other on the scoreline. We didn’t let it harm our productivity…(not too much, anyway!)

Even though I’m French, I’m glad that Germany made it to the final. Not just because of their great team spirit and collective play, but also because I predicted them in my World Cup bracket to make the finals! And as they beat France earlier in the tournament, Germany winning makes France look stronger.

It’s a shame that the Brazilians had to get knocked out of the tournament like that. The festa in Brazil would’ve been a lot more enjoyable, but oh well, it was not meant to be. If this loss inspires Brazilians to continue to speak out against the government and fight for better infrastructure and social services, then perhaps it will be worth it in the end.

 

 

#BeyondtheCup: Brazilians Share their Thoughts on the World Cup, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of Senda’s #BeyondtheCup series, where we give you an inside look at the World Cup in Brazil. Here, we will bring you the stories of many diverse individuals, each one with their own unique perspective on life, soccer, and the Cup. In our conversations with the local brasileiros, we seek answers to this simple question — “What does the World Cup mean to you?”

Senda’s 4th #BeyondTheCup story comes from Adriana, a waitress from San Pablo.

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Senda’s 5th #BeyondTheCup story is told by Nuno Arcanjo, a musician who hails from Belo Horizonte.

Nuno

Senda Athletics’ 6th #BeyondTheCup story is from Gabriel Almeida, an Office Manager who comes from Belo Horizonte.

Gabriel

This story is part of a month-long photography series meant to share with the world the native Brazilians’ views on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But don’t think that their opinions are the only ones that matter! We want to hear from you as well! Let us know what you think of the World Cup so far on our Facebook page or on your social media outlets, using #BeyondTheCup.

#BeyondtheCup: Flashmob in Rio to support Soccer for Social Change

Yesterday, Senda Athletics participated in a flashmob in Rio to support NGOs working with blind, disabled, and at-risk individuals. The event, “Soccer for Social Change: Beyond the World Cup,” showcased soccer’s power to change lives.

The goal of the 10-minute long flashmob was to raise awareness about the crucial work of grassroots organizations and to encourage the public to leave the sidelines and help support the growing movement that uses soccer for social change.

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Accompanied by traditional Brazilian music, players from each organization performed a 2 minute skit featuring their unique take on soccer. As Brazilians rarely pass up on the opportunity to dance and let go, the audience was inspired to join the last several minutes of the flashmob. Afterwards, they were told more about the work of each organization and how to support their work.

Next, the audience got the chance to see what it’s like to play soccer in a power wheelchair. Another new experience for the spectators was completing (or at least attempting) soccer drills using blindfolds. These activities gave the crowd even more respect for those individuals who have to overcome physical challenges to play soccer.

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The flashmob could never have been the success that it was without the help of our fantastic friends and supporters. We at Senda would like to extend a special thank you to Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind, Rio de Janeiro Power Soccer Clube, @VisãodoFuturo, streetfootballworld and streetfootballworld Brasil.

We hope that our flashmob has inspired you to organize your own or to develop other creative ways of demonstrating soccer’s power to improve communities. By starting a flashmob, you will not only get to spread awareness about groups that use soccer for positive social change, but also have a ton of fun in the process!

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Senda Athletics’ Founder on BBC World News story

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Check out the BBC World News story that was published today about Senda Athletics’s founder Santiago.

Besides talking about his dreams of attending a World Cup since being a child, he was able to share Senda’s story and its vision to change the #Futbol industry!

Take a look and help us spread the word!

#BeyondtheCup: Brazilians Share their Thoughts on the World Cup

Welcome to Senda’s Beyond the Cup series, where we will give you an inside look at the World Cup in Brazil. Throughout the tournament, we will bring you the stories of 30 diverse individuals, each one with their own unique perspective on life, soccer, and the Cup. In our conversations with the local brasileiros, we seek answers to this simple question — “What does the World Cup mean to you?”

To start off our Beyond the Cup series, we sat down with Lara, a high school student who is not afraid to voice her opinions.

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Lara, speaks her mind on the World Cup

 

For the second installment of our Beyond the Cup series, we talked with Railson, a beach vendor who sells coconut water. Although we met him in the Flamengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, he is not a carioca (Rio native). Railson hails from Maranhão, a state in the northeast of Brazil.

Railson, World Cup, Rio, Brazil

Railson, giving us his take on the Cup

Senda Athletics’ third Beyond the Cup story comes from Kazê Artist, a Power Soccer Player from Rio de Janeiro.

Kaze, Rio, Brazil, World Cup

Kaze, sharing his view on the World Cup

These stories are part of a month-long photography series meant to share with the world the native Brazilians’ views on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But don’t think that their opinions are the only ones that matter! We want to hear from you as well! Let us know what you think of the World Cup so far on our Facebook page or on your social media outlets, using #BeyondTheCup.

Pro-am Beach Soccer Santa Cruz

This past weekend marked the 10th annual Santa Cruz Beach Soccer Open presented by Senda Athletics. We set up our tent by the check-in and results booths and marked out the area for our juggling competition.  The juggling competition produced some great scores despite most players struggling to juggle barefoot in the sand. Even those players who said they are capable of successfully completing as many as 1000 juggles on grass with cleats found it difficult to reach a century of juggles in the sand. The record-holder using the mini-ball completed 156 juggles, the Size 5 champion reached 300 juggles, and someone managed to keep the giant 3 foot ball in the air for 17 touches!!

This year’s tournament included over 170 teams, topping last year’s total thanks in large part due to the addition of the micro division for six and seven year-olds. There were many champions from last year that returned to defend their titles and countless teams new to the competition that were looking for their first taste of victory!

Thanks to all of those who came out to the Pro-am this year. And to those who missed out, don’t worry because there’s always next year! Our next Beach Soccer Pro-am promises to be another great day of soccer, friends, and fun. Join us!

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Futbol + Volleyball: Futevôlei, A Brazilian Passion

Futevôlei is a blend of soccer and volleyball and (according to legend) was invented in Rio de Janeiro. In lieu of using your hands or arms like in volleyball, the players’ chest and head are turned into the primary surfaces of play. Futevôlei is a 2 vs 2 game played on a regulation sized volleyball space. Most public courts in Rio de Janeiro are in the sand along the beach. All of the courts in Rio come with picturesque backdrops worthy of sitting back and relaxing to take in the view. But if the vistas aren’t enough for you, don’t worry, because you will be amazed by the grace and skill of the futevôlei jogadores.

IMG_2001-2Futevôlei is played up to 18 points. The serve switches sides after one team has made 6 serves; sides rotate after both teams have completed their set of services. Got it?  It is like volleyball…well kind of, but not really. Futevôlei is the pinnacle of soccer-related sports. You need to have impeccable control of the ball with your feet, thighs, shoulders, head, and most importantly, your chest! Much in the same way a volleyball player “sets” the ball with their hands, futevôlei jogadores can do the same with millimeter precision using their chests, heads, thighs, shoulders, and even a foot stretched behind their back.

IMG_1892-2Futevôlei is not a game where you can expect instant success. It’s extremely difficult. Even if you have played soccer your entire life and can juggle a ball 100 times with ease, futevôlei is still a game with game-specific techniques and skills that need to be honed over months or years. I hope that I am not deterring you from playing; I’m just giving you some words of warning so that you’re not too hard on yourself when you start training.  The first thing that is strange for 11 vs 11 soccer players is the way in which one uses their chest. Usually, a soccer player is taught to trap the ball with their chest. Coaches have probably taught you how to bring a ball under control by concaving your chest to cushion the ball and place it in front of your feet on the ground. Futevôlei demands the complete opposite. You need to be able to bend at the knees, lean back and pop out your chest in a manner that accurately propels the ball to your teammate. It will take your brain a little while to rewire your instincts and then a whole lot longer to perfect the timing, force, and accuracy of the pass. Practice till your chest turns the glowing red color of a Brazilian sunset.

Using your head is a lot easier to adapt to as you just need to head the ball upwards instead of downwards.  However, the foot pass is a little different from the technique you learned in soccer. The best control is with the inside of your foot, but not your instep.  Have you seen hacky-sackers? Well that is the technique you want to emulate. You lean back a little, and in a smooth upward motion, stroke through the middle of the ball. The thigh is pretty easy to adapt to also. Some players throw their foot out instead of tucking it under them.  You are basically smoothly swinging through the ball and trying to loft it to your teammate with accuracy to their chest or head.  The gameplay is identical to volleyball with 3 touches, alternating between players before the ball is returned. It is similar to bump-set-spike in volleyball. However there is no stigma attached to returning the ball on the first or second touch if you find your opponent poorly positioned. Players cannot touch the ball more than once, without the ball touching another player.  The net does not reset your touch and unlike volleyball or tennis, if the ball touches the net on the serve it is still in play!  Serves are done with as little spin as possible so that the wind can more effectively mess with the ball’s flightpath. Perhaps counterintuitively, spinning the ball on the serve actually makes it easier for your opponent to predict its path.

IMG_1893Well, there you have it. Now you know the basics of futevôlei. Next time you are in Copacabana, Ipanema, Botofogo, or Flamengo, cruise down to the water on a beautiful day and keep an eye out for the old men wearing speedos (sungas). They will be dark as leather and rippling with muscle from years of playing on the sunny beaches of Brazil. Take some time to watch, get a feel for the game, and learn from the masters. Then, when you’re feeling ready, go out there and join in on this classic of Brazilian sport culture.

Brazil World Cup 2014: A Senda Ambassador’s Life in Rio de Janeiro, Part 2

Casey Grady is one of our Senda ambassadors who is currently living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is passionate about football and tries to play pickup games whenever he has free time. Casey is investigating Brazil’s street football culture and reporting back to us on his impressions.

Copacabana Futevôlei

If you’re in Brazil this summer for the World Cup, there is a good chance you will be watching or playing football every waking moment. Even though football is the greatest thing to ever exist in the history of humanity, perhaps you will want slightly different activities from time to time (gasp!). So if you find yourself feeling a little bit of footy overload, I have just the cure – footvolley!

Footvolley, futevôley in Portuguese, was invented right here in Rio at Copacabana Beach.  It is a pretty big deal here in Rio and there are even professional teams and leagues that follow international regulations.  I won’t bore you with details about the rules. All you really need to know is that footvolley is essentially beach volleyball, except that players are not allowed to use their hands and a football is used instead of a volleyball.

Nets for footvolley are set up at each end of the Copacabana beach. Some near posto 1 in Leme and others between posto 5/6, opposite Leme, and almost to Ipanema). Copacabana has a posto about every half kilometer, which are important landmarks with lifeguard stations and pay bathrooms.

After watching footvolley for even a couple minutes, you will probably decide not to join in with these guys. Their skill is astounding, their shorts ludicrously small, their tans glorious, and their bodies artfully sculpted to attract beautiful women. They are so good with their feet that you may start to believe that playing volleyball with your hands is strictly for amateurs.

Futebol

Before jumping in on a footvolley game, I suggest honing your skills with friends. I think I will continue to practice on my own before I try my hand at playing a game with the locals. Unless you can use your chest to collect and rebound volleyballs with startling precision, you may be a little out of your depth at first.

I have also seen a lot of footvolley on the beach in Flamengo, where somehow the players’ shorts (tungas) are even smaller.

Beach soccer pickup (Futebol na praia)

When the sun drops, Copacabana comes alive with people exercising and playing futebol.  Go somewhere with a nice view to watch the sunset, then head out to play footy.  Being the birthplace of beach soccer, Copacabana has an amazing footballing infrastructure consisting of dozens of illuminated goal posts for volleyball and footvolley.  But be sure to bring your own nets!

Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls Brazil World Cup 2014

At Copacabana you will certainly find the perfect type of playing field to match your specific soccer needs. The beach is lined with small, medium, and large nets, and even various sized pitches. The beach is wide and has plenty of space for futebol. The best locations have huge nets behind the goals and are usually dominated by organized teams at peak hours.  Watching these young men for even a few moments, you will quickly realize how skills they are. They make juggling and possessing the ball in the air seem effortless. They are true artists and the ball is their medium of expression. While you may be confident in your ability to juggle the ball on solid ground, the circumstances change dramatically when you must retain possession while mired in sand with a pack of footballers trying desperately to rob you of the ball.

If you can only juggle 2 times and have only one juggling trick, do not fear, for there are still pickup opportunities for you.  One fantastic thing about Brazil is that finding a game is easy because nearly every Brazilian man, woman, and child plays.  Most people are very relaxed and will be more than happy to have you join in. All you have to do is go to the beach in the evening and look for a group of people hanging out juggling or playing small games. Usually around 7:00-8:00 in the evening, a group will gather around posto 2, which is where I live. They start juggling, warming up, and then start a small game of 2v2.  These games are fast-paced and exciting and sometimes draw an audience. Inevitably, as the intensity builds, more players arrive and a game of 5v5 or 7v7 will begin. That’s the way things work in Brazil.  Here, a small game of keep away can transform into a full-fledged pickup game in a flash.

Pickup Futebol Basics:

- Everyone plays goalie eventually, with a typical rotation system in place. Once scored on, you rotate out of goal. If you are absolutely exhausted from running in the sand, no one will tease you if you wish to take a breather and rotate to keeper.

- Games usually last two or three goals. When the game finishes, the team currently sitting rotates in for the recently vanquished team.

- If you are knackered, you can easily have someone sub in for you.  There is always someone who wants to play.

- Games usually go on for 1 to 1.5 hours.  When everyone is panting and struggling for air, a group of fresh players will rotate in.

Best strategy to play?

The best way to play beach soccer in Rio is just to go out there with no fear. In the evening, grab a beach soccer ball, head to the beach, identify a group of players, and simply tell them that you want to play.

In the rare occasion that you do not see people already playing, walk the length of the beach until you do, or just start juggling and warming up near an empty pitch. This will signal to others that you want to play. Eventually a game will form, or at the very least, some kids will approach you to kick the ball around. The amazing thing about Brazilians is that they are really friendly and welcoming to strangers.  If you see a Brazilian without a smile on their face, perhaps their pet goldfish just died or they recently stubbed their toe. I have never been denied access to a game, but I look like Michael Bradley and Zidane had a child – a big, bald baby!  Teams have even let me practice with them because I was gutsy enough to ask. I wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you are very confident in your skills and the coach seems laid-back.

Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls Rio World Cup Brazil

Well, there you have it. That’s my take on playing futebol and futevolley on Copacabana beach. Although I outlined a rather complicated set of guidelines for getting in on the action, remember that nothing is better than simply heading out to the beach with nothing but a ball and your love for the game.

O Brasil é lindo maravilhoso, Brazil is magnificent!

Story from Casey Grady