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#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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

Fair Trade in Action, Year 2: Delivering School Bags to Workers’ Children

In March of 2013, we were very excited to support our producers with a project to distribute school supplies to the workers’ children right ahead of the school year in Pakistan. This project put one hundred backpacks filled with pencils, pens, notebooks, and other supplies directly in the hands of schoolchildren. The delivery of the backpacks and school supplies generated a lot of enthusiasm on the part of both the parents and kids, and it was immediately apparent that this was a project that needed to grow! 

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The school bags project is a very symbolic initiative. As a part of an industry with a controversial history of child labor, we want to do more than just refuse to use child workers. We want to improve the lives of our workers’ children. To achieve this, we provide our (adult!) producers with fair wages to make sure that their children don’t have to work and and we help equip young students for school.

The success of this initial program has encouraged us to go even further to improve the educational futures of these children in 2014. To achieve these aims, we  partnered with Chicago Fair Trade, a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the Fair Trade movement and making sure that Chicago continues to be a leader in the international Fair Trade community. As soon as they heard about our campaign to provide our workers’ children with school supplies in 2013, they wanted to become involved to grow the impact. This year Fair Trade Chicago contributed to our  School Bags campaign, and together we were able to grow from 100 bags delivered in 2013, to 200 bags in April of 2014!

We are thrilled to be able to help support education in such a tangible way, and also to find others who want to be a part of this initiative. Now, two hundred more kids will be able to have access to brand new school materials as they prepare for a new year of learning.

Kids showing off their new school supplies from Senda's campaign

This is just a humble step towards improving the quality of life for our workers and their children, and we understand that there is still much more to be done. We will continue to work on growing our sales so that we can make a bigger impact. And we will work hard to actively listen to what workers have to say about these programs so that we can help improve not just their lives, but those of their children as well.

These types of programs are only possible because of our incredible customers, friends, and partners. Because of your desire to make a difference with the soccer equipment you choose, you are able to help improve workers’ lives. Thanks to you, 200 hundred children are now heading off to school better prepared to succeed!

A BIG thank you for your continued support of Senda and our Fair Trade mission. We are extremely pleased and so lucky to have you all as part of our team. I’m sure that our talented and hard-working Fair Trade producers are immensely grateful too!

Pakistani child proudly displaying his new backpack thanks to Senda's "School Supplies for Schoolkids" Campaign

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

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 Footballing Guide for Tourists

Brazil is undoubtedly soccer’s spiritual and cultural heart. And with World Cup 2014 coming to Rio this summer, that footballing heart will only beat louder. Soccer, which is locally referred to as futebol, is central to Brazilian life. And within Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the place for total soccer immersion. I went down to Copacabana, the birthplace of Beach Soccer (futebol na praia), where goals litter the iconic beach.

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Carioças, the nickname for Rio natives, are passionate about futebol.  To get their fix, many wake up at the crack of dawn and head down to the beach to attend fitness programs that emphasize beach soccer.  One morning, I woke up early and set out for Copacabana to observe and get coaching ideas and training tips. If you pay a small fee (and are able to wake up early enough!), you could probably join the programs and play.

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As the sand gets extremely hot under the midday sun, you will not usually see people playing during the day.  The one exception to this rule is when it is overcast.  When cloud cover cools the sand down to a tolerable temperature, more teams train during the day.  Unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunately), gloomy days in Rio are exceedingly rare.  So rare in fact, that Brazilians don’t seem to know how to react to rain.  During stormy weather, it appears that everyone forgets how to drive.  I’ve suffered through the most horrendous storm-induced traffic jams while in Brazil!

In addition to futebol, many groups of Carioças practice futevolley in the early evening. Kids in uniforms dominate the best fields because their clubs pay to reserve the space. Sometimes I have seen adults training on the beach as well. These are the members of the organized workout groups that I mentioned earlier.

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Now, I hope that I have not given you the wrong impression about Rio beach soccer culture.  Although the organized groups that I mentioned above require membership fees to play, there are plenty of opportunities for free pickup games for tourists!

Hate playing in the sand?  There is only one place to go in the South Zone of Rio to play on (synthetic) grass: Complexo Aterro.

I went down to Complexo Aterro in search of pickup games.  When I arrived, there was a group of guys from the local neighborhood.  They meet at the Aterro complexo de futebol (link above) before 8:45 on Saturday mornings.  One guy, almost like a coach, but more like an organizer, wrote my name down on a list. It is first come, first served and seniority is also a factor if there are lots of people in attendance. Usually, gringos are substitutes.  7v7 or 8v8 games end when 10 goals are scored, which usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

Guys pay about $10/month and get a red and blue uniform.  For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, no one ever has a ball except the organizer. The guys that pay the monthly fee get priority over people who don’t.  As native Brazilians are chosen first, you will probably be a substitute unless there are no locals around. When it is overcast, there are not too many people in attendance.  But if it is sunny and hot, tons of people show up.  The heat makes playing much more exhausting on the AstroTurf and so multiple substitutions are required.

The game starts at around 9:00 Brazilian time. When the first team scores the 5th goal, it is halftime and it’s time for some liquid refreshment.  There is a nice man who is always around selling water.  He sells on credit so you can pay him later and don’t have to fumble for your wallet during the game.

As I said before, the first team to 10 goals wins. But when it is scorchingly hot, the game sometimes will end after only 8 goals.  This ensures that none of the players keel over from dehydration and heat stroke.  If there are lots of people sometimes 7v7 becomes 8v8 or 9v9 with subs, depending on the number of available players. The larger games only increase the amount of bickering and complaining that occurs between players.

When you sub off, your day is done!  The substitutes can enter either team, red or blue.  A sweaty jersey and shorts may be offered to you, but I wouldn’t suggest wearing them unless you like bathing in another person’s sweat!  I bring my own clothing so I can keep my sweat to myself.

I hope that I have given you a useful introduction to pickup soccer in Rio.  If watching the best footballers in the world compete at the World Cup in Rio doesn’t inspire you to get out there and play some pickup, then I don’t think anything will! While the location and rules may change, the love for soccer is universal.  I’m sure that with a little effort, you’ll be able to fulfill your dream of playing soccer in its spiritual birthplace.

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Good luck and play hard!

Story from Casey Grady

Edited by Evan Hofberg

Senda now ships Internationally

We ship internationally / Envoi à l’internatonal/ 我们支持国际运输/ Hacemos envios a todo el mundo / 해외배송 가능/ Entregamos em qualquer lugar do mundo/センダは国際的に出荷できます

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That was probably one of the most questions we received : ” Do you ship internationally?”

YES ! You can now place any order and we will ship it anywhere in the world as long as USPS delivers there.

Just choose the right ball model(s) from our collection : http://sendaathletics.com/soccer-balls/

If you have any questions/concerns, let us know at info@sendaathletics.com and our international team will be delighted to help you.

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Introducing Ethically Made-to-order Soccer Uniforms

 

We are so proud to introduce ethically made-to-order soccer uniforms constructed with 100% high performance polyester.

Besides making top quality Fair Trade soccer balls for some of the best organizations in the world, we are now proud to introduce Senda Athletics made-to-order soccer uniforms made with 100% high performance polyester.

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Check out the video we did with Club Marin, during one of their  San Francisco Soccer Football League or SFSFL. The league was established in 1902, and its “the oldest American soccer league in continuous existence”. Watch the beautiful goal in the very last minute of the game, by a team that never stopped believing they could get the 3 points!

Great to see first hand the passionate and talented players that are choosing to use Senda’s soccer uniforms:

Club Marin that competes in one of the oldest leagues in the US ( San Francisco Soccer Football) started playing in Senda Athletics soccer uniforms, after using Senda’s soccer balls for over 3 years.

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We have been developing soccer uniforms behind the scenes for the last nine months and currently, our uniforms are made-to-order for teams, clubs and organizations who want to look fantastic on the field, play with high-performance gear and support our sweatshop-free ethos.

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We are very excited about this new step, and take pride on learning from our Fair Trade soccer ball experience, to work with supplier that are committed to craftsmanship, providing good working conditions, and paying fair wages.

To get special team pricing you can simply call us at 1-866-244-0708 or email info@sendaathletics.com and we will help you get started.

Note: There is a minimum order of 20 sets for our made-to-order custom soccer uniforms.

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#SoccerGear #EthicallyMade #NewGeneration #FairTradeSoccer

Movement to Send the US Power Wheelchair Soccer Team to the White House

 

In 2011 the United States Power Soccer team won its second consecutive World Cup title, making them the only U.S. soccer team ever to win back-to-back World Cups. Despite this momentous achievement, the team has not yet been invited to the White House to be honored by President Obama. I truly believe that it is time for the White House to take the initiative in celebrating the dedication and achievements of athletes of all abilities representing the U.S.A.

This April, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team will visit the White House on their way to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The goal of this campaign is to seek an invitation for the U.S. Power Soccer Team to join the U.S. Men’s National Team in their visit. This is a unique opportunity for president Obama to honor both teams achievements together, on the world stage?

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The United States won the first Power Soccer World Cup in Tokyo in 2007, defeating Belgium, England, Denmark, Japan and Portugal before beating France in a penalty shoot-out in the finals to win the cup. The team then made history when it defended its title in Paris four years later, defeating England 3-0 in the final becoming the first American soccer team to defend their title as world champions.

“Each year, winning teams in major sports in the U.S. spend time with the President; it is an honor athletes who reach the highest of milestones enjoy,” said Chris Finn, Head Coach of the U.S. team. “Considering we are the only team in U.S. history to win TWO world cups, I think it is prudent for our team to visit with the President and introduce him to our growing global sport.”

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Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users. Players use these power wheelchairs to pass, defend, and spin-kick a large 13-inch soccer ball in a skilled and challenging game similar to traditional soccer. Teams of four athletes compete on a regulation-sized basketball court, under rules established by the governing body of power soccer, the Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Association (FIFPA). This sport provides an unparalleled opportunity for everyone to be able to experience the magic of soccer.

As believer in sports as a tool to bring people together, I know that with the help of the White House The U.S. Power Soccer Team can inspire millions with their accomplishments, and that President Obama has an incredible opportunity to honor this inspiring group of players.

To achieve this goal, USPSA and Senda Athletics are launching a Change.org campaign to gather 1,000 signatures of support, generate awareness for this cause and send the two-time defending World Cup champions to the White House.

For those of you on Twitter, we have created a web page that allows you to send a tweet to the people at the White House and US Soccer that can make this happen.

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USYF Futsal Championships Trip

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Last week, United States Youth Futsal (USYF) specially invited Senda Athletics to attend their 2014 Nationals in Kansas City, with 1,200 of the best Futsal players in the country competing. Over 120 teams from across the country, and even Australia, participated in the 3 day event February 14, 15 and 16, with players ranging from U-8 up to U-18.

Senda Athletics’ participation in the tournament was the perfect opportunity to showcase our Rio Training futsal ball and  Rio XLS Match futsal ball to a knowledgeable audience that is extremely particular about the types of balls they use in their training and games. The feedback we got was very positive: coaches and players alike liked the touch and feel of the Rio and Rio XLS. A surpising and interesting suggestions we received was to develop an even smaller ball then the Rio futsal junior size (22.5 inches circumference), so that players as young as 4 and 6 years old can play with a fair Trade futsal ball

We are currently working on a joint collaboration with USYF, to make a quality ball that helps grow the reach and impact of Futsal in the USA.

Many fans decided to check out the Senda booth during a break in the Futsal action.

Many fans decided to check out the Senda booth during a break in the Futsal action.

Futsal is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, its fast pace and small playing area requires players to improvise in tight spaces. The ball that is used has a slightly lower bounce so that it is easier to control on the hard surface. While futsal is similar to indoor soccer, gameplay is more similar to traditional soccer in that, there are no walls

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With over 70 leagues across the country, United States Youth Futsal is building a nationwide movement to grow the this fast pace and techical version of the “Beautiful Game,” and raise its level of coaching and play.

Ultimately, a generation of US players that grows up playing futsal through their development process will be able to develop unique  skills (speed of play, on the ground quick touches, dribbling 1 v 1, and more) that will transfer into the outdoors. At Senda, we are convinced that it has the  potential to increase the level of the US National Teams for both men and women, and help develop a new generation of players .

 

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Active opportunities for youth to play futsal will raise the level of college, MLS  play, and contribute to better results for US teams at the World Cup and other international competitions!

Jon Perry, – Executive Director of US Youth Futsal, explains in the brief video below, some of the benefits of futsal, that make the game fast, exciting and so beneficial for players.

Cannot wait for Senda to play an important role in this US Futsal revolution. Stay tuned for more updates…