Archive by Author

Back to the Roots: Going home to Argentina for our latest campaign “Futbol is Art”

 

Last December I took a month-long journey back to my home country of Argentina in order to share the essence of soccer with Senda’s fans through our Futbol is Art campaign.

I had the chance to play pick-up soccer with our friends from Jogabo (the awesome app for players to track their stats and games), while at the same time making new friends as I visited the local neighborhood soccer pitch in La Boca, with my two cousins Francisco and Felipe.

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Local kids in La Boca taking a break during our game of pick-up soccer.

It was a powerful reminder of how something as simple as a soccer ball can help people form an immediate connection. Felipe, like myself is a huge River Plate fan, and the fact that he was willing to spend an entire afternoon in La Boca surrounded with Boca Juniors fans, and help us with our videos and photos was wonderful to see! It revealed the extent to which he loves the unifying message of Senda, and the day turned into an eye-opening experience for him. In a country where rivalries run so deep, sometimes for the worse, he put himself in a situation in which he was entirely unfamiliar. It was fun to play with him, and was a heartening experience for all of us to see that our common love for the game is stronger than any rivalries.

later that week, I was able to meet 2 legendary players from local powerhouse Racing Club de Avellaneda: Francisco Maciel and Martin Vitali. I did this while watching them play FootGolf near Buenos Aires  for a  TV show called This is Footgolf, which uses Senda balls for their challenges with local soccer players. Both players helped the Racing Club, which prior their arrival had been the laughingstock of the league, win the 2001 Apertura title, ending a 35 year draught that began in 1966!

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Left to right: Pablo Gonzales (FootGolf T.V host), Francisco Maciel, Myself, and Martin Vitali.

I also had the chance to visit the fields where Messi first began playing soccer in the junior divisions of Newell´s Old Boys, at the Malvinas Sports Complex in Rosario, Argentina. It was an incredible (almost spiritual) experience, realizing that I was in the same place where one of the greatest players ever to play the game of Futbol first began to kick the ball around as a kid, and fall in love with the game.

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My visit to the pitch of Newell´s Old Boys, at the Malvinas Sports Complex in Rosario, Argentina.

This trip was a great reminder of the influence that soccer had on my childhood growing up in Argentina! It also reminded me of the true essence of the game, especially when played by children who are simply trying to have fun, spend time together, and learn new tricks.

The important part of the game of Futbol is not simply the final score, but rather the people that you meet because of it, and the power that Futbol has to bring people closer together than they would otherwise be.

I think there is a lot to learn from that spirit, and I look forward to integrating it with our team into Senda’s message, and sharing it with all of you!

The people behind Senda: Spotlight on members of our great team!

 

Do you ever wonder who the passionate people behind Senda are? Or how it feels to work at an athletic Fair Trade start-up that was started with the ambitious goal of  changing  the entire athletic industry?

The Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls team

Another fun day at the office for the Senda team.

We thought many of you do, so we want to introduce to you  some of our dedicated team members, who have a passion for soccer, Fair Trade practices, and using the most beautiful game in the world to improve lives.

Jeong is Senda’s Director of Marketing and Partnerships. He came from South Korea, he recently finished his masters degree at the University of San Francisco and has been rocking with Senda for almost a year. When playing ball, he is known for scoring goals at crucial moments, like on the final match we played at the Street Soccer USA West Coast Cup, with a 4-4 score. There is no task he looks at as being impossible, and we love that can-do attitude!

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Jun is a social media and marketing intern for Senda attending UC Berkeley, who was born and raised in China and came to the States over ten years ago. He joined our team  as a summer intern, and he loved it so much that he decided to stay after. He wears many hats at the company, and is always willing to give a hand on a new project that can use his skill-sets. When we have an important presentation to send to  possible corporate like Google, Clif Bar, and Hyundai among others partners, he is the person we trust to give it a final personal touch, and ensure the deck looks perfect.

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Diana is Senda’s Business Development intern who is an exchange student from Germany coming to UC Berkeley to study for a semester. We were impressed with her smarts, tenacity, and “anything is possible” attitude from the very first day. She brings to a start-up team much needed ideas for building good structures, following up on our tasks and  on deadlines we put for ourselves. She is also the one making sure that we start meetings on time, and we finish them on time as well. We love that she is never afraid of saying what she thinks, and usually does so with a smile in her face.

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We are proud to have such an international team, and in a sport that truly brings the World together, it only makes sense!  But despite being from different cultures, EVERYONE shares the  same passion and love toward soccer and the change it can make in the community.

Below are a few interesting questions we asked them, so you can get to know them better:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and a special bond you have with soccer?

Diana:

I grew up in Monschau, a very small town in the west of Germany. I have an older brother who plays soccer with passion. Soccer was also the first sport I ever tried, and I made my very best friend there who I kept throughout my entire life. Now I mostly watch it on TV and sometimes in the stadium. Now am looking forward to follow the German national team during the world cup. In my free time I like to go out to bars and movies with my friends. Traveling is another hobby of mine – I love snowboarding in the Alpes.

Jeong: I grew up in a rural area in South Korea and had been playing with nature as a little kid. Found out about soccer at a very young age, and when I moved into an urban area I started playing and watching it a lot. I have moved to numerous places, but everywhere I moved to I can always find people playing soccer. Now I play soccer at least once a week.

Jun: I was born in Guangzhou, China and spent most of my childhood there. I love playing many sports, but soccer has always been my favorite. When I was in elementary school my friends and I run out to the empty lot just across from our school and played soccer everyday. Aside from playing and watching soccer I enjoy playing basketball and listening to all kinds music.

Why did you want to join the Senda team?

Jeong: Senda contains a group of young, fresh and motivated people who are passionate about soccer and its social values. There are many different opportunities to grow. I enjoy working with such a great team that provides me with a flexible work atmosphere and creativity. I received responsibility from day 1

What do you see Senda in 5 years?

Diana: In 5 years Senda would be well established in the USA and the Americas. Growth opportunities in Europe & Asia would also open to us. There would be a larger team due to the growth, but the same energy and passion will still be there.

Senda Ambassador “Tony Salciccia:” From College Soccer Star, to going Pro

 

Meet Tony Salciccia, our newest Senda Athletics ambassador, and former UC Berkeley captain. He is an amazing player and person working to become a pro player who will share his training regime as he trains for try-outs in December 2013-January 2014. Here is his first blog post!

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I am a passionate person, when it comes to soccer and being apart of a program like CAL. The UC Berkeley soccer program has a tremendous history with a great family-like culture. I live, love, and work for the team. I studied the program before coming in as a freshman an even more so as I grew up a bear my self. Knowing a lot of the former players and team captains paved the way for me to become a team captain my self junior and senior years. Team captain is a great honor and fun task, pushing the team forward.

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What I miss most about college soccer are the training sessions early morning at our practice field up this hill on Dwight aka Golden Bear. Just to know the great players who trained there before you brings a certain boost to your energy levels. Waking up in the morning happy was easy knowing a training session was minutes away. Golden Bear was a place for me to get away from the real world and into my soccer heaven and go about working on team and self improvement.

I stay in contact with the guys who moved on and made the transition into the MLS. Some of the insight I get is to stay persistent and be ready for a opportunities when they come. It is going to take hard work and being a good person.

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A European Perspective on the MLS Game Atmoshphere

We want to introduce our newest intern to the Senda Team, Diana Roder. Diana is an international student from Germany, and she is studying at UC Berkeley until the end of the year. Here she shares with us her experience attending her first professional soccer game in the US.

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This is is me – Diana Roder – at the age of 6 kicking first balls in my hometown Monschau, Germany. What I have always enjoyed about the sport is its ability to motivate and connect people!

Now that I came to the Bay Area to study a semester at the University of California Berkeley, Senda sparked my soccer passion again and gives me the opportunity to revive old memories.

I am proud to call myself part of the Senda team as Business Development Intern and inspired by the entrepreneurial energy!

 

On Saturday October 26th Senda’s founder Santiago took me to my first professional US soccer game: San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas. We had a great time cheering for our Bay Area team, socializing with the soccer community and watching Walter Martinez and Chris Wondolowski score.

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Look at me in a picture with Steven Lenhart. Getting so close to the players and taking some photos before the game was definitely a highlight of this amazing day. My friends back home will be impressed to know that I was able to get so close the the game’s stars!

 

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Being at the stadium for Quakes defender Ramiro Corrales’ final game in his MLS career was a great experience. He is an Earthquakes legend, and was the only remaining player from the inaugural 1996 MLS season that continuous today. It was touching to see thousands of fans say good bye and thank this incredible player for 18 years and 306 games of great soccer. Even from the stands, you could see his tears, and how emotional this game was for him.

Although my soccer heart keeps pounding for the German team, Senda excursions like this make me want to learn more about the US soccer spirit. I look forward to contributing to Senda’s success in the future and will definitely cross my fingers for the US national team in the FIFA Word Cup 2014.

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Beyond Soccer: Evolving the Game for Social Impact

 

Besides allowing millions of boys and girls across the USA to make friends, learn new leadership skills, and stay healthy, can soccer also be leveraged to tackle some of the current most important social problems?

That is a question that I examine on a daily basis, with the rest of the Senda Athletics team, as we build a strategy to provide ongoing soccer equipment to organizations using the game to improve in the USA. So it was extremely rewarding to do that along with almost one hundred others on Sunday September 8th in Philadelphia, PA as part of the Beyond Sport Summit and Awards at PPL Park, the home of the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.

The event brought together experts from the world of soccer to discuss how soccer can lead the way in the USA in terms of creating social change.
Beyond Soccer, (powered by streetfootballworld), was the first international event in the USA focusing purely on the power of the world’s most popular sport to tackle social issues like poverty, homelessness and lack of access to education. It was a huge milestone for the US to host such an important event related to soccer and its ability to improve communities! It was a new and beautiful sign of the momentum and growth that soccer continues to experience in this country!

The one day meeting took place on Sunday September 8th in Philadelphia, PA as part of the Beyond Sport Summit and Awards- an annual event that highlights and reward projects that use sport for social change. The event came USA for the first time. Last year’s Summit in London, UK was attended by sports superstars like David Beckham, and Muhammad Ali.

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The event was kicked off by the best possible speaker, someone whose life had been improved by soccer:

This is the story of Chris Lodgson, the keynote speaker at the “Beyond Soccer” summit held at PPL Park in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The beginning of Lodgson’s story was not much different from the stories of over half a million other Americans that faced unemployment in January during the Great Recession. What is different is that after accidentally walking into a local soccer match and meeting Lawrence Cann, founder of Street Soccer USA, an organization that uses the power of soccer to help homeless people transform their lives. Cann invited Lodgson to join their soccer game and provide him with soccer equipment. “It was refreshing…for the first time, I forgot where I was and forgot who I was. The rest, as they say, is history,” Lodgson said, addressing the close to one hundred attendees.
Just after a month with the team, Lodgson moved out of the shelter and enrolled in community college to pursue a degree in accounting.
“The program staff…endowed me with a rich abundance of positive social and cultural capital which I used and used well as a springboard to propel myself forward. Seemingly overnight the resources of football became my resources. The networks of football became my networks. The power of football became my power,” Lodgson said. “Day after day, practice after practice, I began to heal.”

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“Bring football and its power to the huddled masses…bring football and its power to the homeless and to the hopeless…lift up the light of the world’s game. Give them not rest but resurgence. Give them what was given unto me,” Lodgson said.

This was an invaluable trip for me and Senda Athletics, one that provided many lessons from Sports for Development organizations that shared their own challenges and opportunities using soccer to improve lives. Returning back to Berkeley and sharing these lessons with our team motivated us to keep working hard to support the work of nonprofit organizations using the power of soccer for social good.

A question that I brought home with me from Philadelphia is: What is the role of Youth Soccer Clubs in growing the movement of soccer for positive social change? Can youth players, coaches, soccer moms and dads be a part of this young movement?

Let me know your thoughts via twitter at @SendaAthletics, use the hashtag #beyondsoccer and take part in a conversation highlighting the role of soccer for social change in the USA. The more people join the conversation and this new soccer movement, the bigger the impact will be!

* Thank you to Casey Pladus from the “Philly Soccer Page” for covering the event, and helping us to craft this story!


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Soccer Sayings

Sometimes a picture or even a sentence can put beautiful smiles on people’s faces. At Senda we want to give back and inspire our supporters in any ways we can.

Since early June Senda has been interacting with our Facebook fans through weekly soccer related photos with quotes. We hope that these pictures can give our viewers joys and motivations to continue play the beautiful sport of soccer.

Here are a few of our pictures posts. Hope you guys enjoy them!

You can grab me, but you cannot stop me

You can grab me, but you cannot stop me

Soccer is so much more than a ball and two goals. It connects people from corners of the world.

Soccer is so much more than a ball and two goals. It connects people from corners of the world.

 

I hope you always find a reason to play soccer

I hope you always find a reason to play soccer

Playing football with your feet is one thing, but playing football with your heart is another

Playing football with your feet is one thing, but playing football with your heart is another

One is never too young to start loving soccer

One is never too young to start loving soccer

 

Spotlight of Soccer series: Beach Soccer

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If you are a footballer, and you have played the game on the beach, you know how different and fun the game can be on the sand. That is specially the case when the water is warm enough for a swim right after a game!

Beach soccer started as an informal game that friends would play on the beach, mostly while on vacation. But with the growth of the sport, in 1992 the first official rules of  beach soccer were created. Since its first historical competitions, beach soccer has grown to be an international game, with the start of the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005.

Each beach soccer team consists of five players, including the goalkeeper. An unlimited amount of substitutions, from a selection of 3 to 5 substitute players, is allowed at any moment of the game, even when the ball is in play. A game lasts 36 minutes, and it is split up into three 12 minute periods. The pitch is considerably smaller than a regular one (about the size of a futsal field), and it should be composed of sand without any other objects which could injure a player. The game runs on a fast pace, with an average of over ten goals scored per game as players are able to score anywhere on the field. This makes for a fast pace game, with lots of action.

photo (1)We had the chance to discuss  beach soccer with Yuri Morales, who played for the United States national beach soccer team at the highest level. Yuri can be seen throwing bicycle kicks at virtually every Beach Soccer Tournament in the Bay, and he works with America SCORES Bay Area to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world. He helps put together an Annual  Beach Soccer Blast Tournament in San Francisco every summer, with proceeds going to America Scores.

Yuri also played previously with the Danish professional football club Viborg F, the Portland Timbers right before they joined MLS.

Senda: How did you get involved with Beach Soccer?

Yuri:I grew up in Santa Cruz, so there was a beach going culture there. When I was playing with the Portland Timbers(USL division 1, before there was MLS) in 2006, my friend Ronny Silva was a member of the beach soccer team at that time and he was looking for players for beach soccer. There was a core group of players from Santa Cruz that were forming a core of the beach soccer national team based in training in Santa Cruz. So he asked me if I wanted to try playing beach soccer, and I did.

Senda: What aspects of “regular” soccer does Beach Soccer emphasize the most?

Yuri: There are tactics similar to grass soccer, but at the same time different because the field is so much smaller and fewer players. In terms of defensive tactics in some ways they are more similar to futsal than grass soccer in many ways. attacking wise you have to have very good technique to be successful, just like grass soccer. For beach soccer you have to be more focused on the technical because the ball is usually and ideally in the air, so you have to adjust your body in the sand. So you have to have very good techniques

Senda: What was your most memorable Beach Soccer moment?”

Yuri: The second time we qualified for the world cup in 2007, in Mexico. We beat Uruguay in an exhibition championship match. There was an arrangement that the champion of North America and the champion of South America would play against each other in an exhibition match. Uruguay earned second place in the previous world cup and they were a very strong team. We beat them in the last minute of the game. I remember because we won 4-3, and I scored the goal to make the game even at 3-3 as a substitute at that time. That was a really memorable moment for me.”

Senda – What did it feel to have the opportunity to represent your country in the World Cup?

Yuri: It feels great. I’d say that it’s a great honor, and I am very appreciative of the US Soccer Federal for sponsoring the team. They supported the team from the very beginning even when this beach soccer didn’t make much money. For them to stick with us I feel very supported by them. ”

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Senda – “What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start playing Beach Soccer?

Yuri:Stick with it. Don’t give up. It’s like golf and snowboarding that the first few times you do it it’s going to be miserable. After that when you start getting the hang of it, getting your balance, and moving better on the sand it becomes more and more fun.”

Senda: What characteristics do you look for in a Beach Soccer ball?

Yuri: I like it to have a layer of foam so that when you kick it it doesn’t slap against your skin against your foot. When it has that layer of padding it can protect from that. Also the weight has to be just right. If it’s too light the ball would just fly away in the wind. If it’s too heavy it can hurt your foot. I think you guys did a great job with the Senda beach soccer ball. It could have a little bit more padding, but I think its a great ball.

Senda: Any fun Beach Soccer stories while playing the game?

Yuri:In 2006 in the qualifying tournament, it was my first trip with the national team. It was in the winter and it was in the Costa Rican rain forest. It rained all the time there. They built a little stadium and brought in sand, but they weren’t allowed to bring in real sand, so they brought in dirt. When it rained the dirt turned into mud, so we played the first couple games in just deep mud. It was my first beach soccer experience, and I did really well because I was used to playing in mud because in Santa Cruz in high school when it rained the grass field we played on was covered with mud. I did really well the first couple games, but it just kept raining, so the tournament was forced to move to a beach town in order to continue.”

Another story, I got to have granola next to Eric Cantona, coach for the French National Team, in 2006!  I was having breakfast in the morning and I looked over and there he was. We greeted each other and continued to have breakfast. I was a little star struck at that time.

Thanks to Yuri for taking the time to talk to us about beach soccer! 

Fair Trade in Action: Delivering School Supplies to Workers’ Children

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Senda promotes soccer and Fair Trade as tools to improve lives. The goal of Fair Trade is to provide workers with fair wages and better working conditions. Ultimately, the vision is to empower workers to have a better quality of life.

 A question we get often is, “How does Fair Trade work on the ground where your soccer ball are made”?

What better way to explain it than by sharing a recent Fair Trade project that was selected by the people making Senda’s soccer balls?!

We are excited to see the results of our Fair Trade efforts this past April 2013, when workers from the Fair Trade supplier approved a project to distribute school supplies to the children of the company’s workers. One hundred backpacks containing school supplies were handed out to the workers’ children, before their school year began.

Joint Body Back Pack projects

The project received  great response from children and their parents, and the program for delivery of backpacks for next year in 2014 will be increasing considerably.

During my visit to Pakistan in 2012, when I asked parents that worked at our Fair Trade supplier factory what they wanted for their kids, most of them said that they wanted them to have an education, and access to opportunities. It is great to now see Fair Trade helping to equip and inspire children to go to school with better materials, and some extra motivation.

This small first step to help the children of soccer ball stitchers and workers to be well equipped for schools was only possible thanks to the help, encouragement, and purchases from our customers and supporters.

THANK YOU: without you guys this could not have happened!

You are real change-makers who believe in the ability of soccer to improve lives, and our inspiration to keep growing Senda. This is just the beginning!

Senda at the UN Forum on Sports and Peace

This past June 5 and 6th I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development at the UN headquarters in New York City. 

The forum was started in 2009 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The forum focuses on how sport can contribute to peace and development in the world, centering on themes such as promoting education and healthy lifestyles through sport and advocating a peace culture among young people.

Among the people who attend were UN Special Advisor Wilfried Lemke, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, IOC President Jacques Rogge, and many other important figures from the Sport for Development and Peace Movement.

After Ban-Ki Moon opened the forum, I had the chance to meet him, and tell him briefly about Senda’s work. I even got him to sign a Senda limited edition VOLTA Premier ball for our office space.

It is great to see that the most important figure at the United Nation took the time to open an event that addressed the role of sports to improve communities.

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To be honest, the rhythm of the forum’s sessions and some of the presentations were a bit slow, and included ceremonial phrases and statements that were new to me. Perhaps that is just part of the UN’s protocol, and a way of hosting presentations when you have so many government representatives from over 80 countries.

Perhaps, instead of the forum being dominated by “one way” presentations, with a brief time for Q&A, it would have been useful to have more time for unstructured sessions, or even four or five smaller “unconferences” in which smaller groups of attendees get to network, discuss their goals while using sports for development and peace, as well as share challenges and opportunities. This might present more opportunities to explore how different organizations, businesses, and governments might be able to collaborate on sports initiatives, and work together to learn best practices that have been proven to work effectively.

Maybe that will be the case in 2015, when the next forum takes place in a location to be determined.

Overall it was a very interesting experience: I was proud to represent Senda, and humbled to have the opportunity to share the work that we do with the help of our customers and nonprofit partners. Below is an interview from the UN’s TV crew, which covered the event, and asked me to describe the work of some of the organization Senda partners with!

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Lessons from Bangladesh: Building a Brighter Future for Workers

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Hearing stories from the women working at the Fair Trade factory. They want to be able to contribute to the well being of their families, and improve their lives.

It has been one month since a Bangladeshi factory collapsed, leaving 1,127 workers dead on April 24. All of us at Senda have been following the discussion going on at a corporate, grassroots and non profit level. I hope that they serve to make sure that what happened in Bangladesh never happens again, and that workers around the World are not subject to abuse, poor working conditions, and low wages.

I really believe that another production model is possible, and that with some outside-the-box thinking, innovation, and compassion,  brands can genuinely  make progress in improving  the lives of those making their products. There is no reason why poor people in developing countries should be struggling to make ends meet and live a life with dignity, while companies make record profits. This does not have to be a ZERO SUM GAME.

I acknowledge that the problem of poor working conditions in factories is complex, and that mistakes will be made in all honest efforts aimed at changing the current reality. But I also believe that the time is right to construct a new paradigm, and create a system in which brands make quality products, producers make a good living, and consumers feel good about the impact of their purchases. With that vision in mind, last year I embarked in a 10 day trip to Pakistan to meet the workers behind our Fair Trade Soccer balls. I wanted to see first hand the conditions in which our products are made. The trip provided a lot of lessons, and inspired myself and the Senda team to continue working hard to make things better for our producers.

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Learning how our soccer ball panels are screen printed.

Because I actually lived inside the Fair Trade factory  (I stayed at a guest room on the 2nd floor), I was able to see first hand that workers making our soccer balls have access to proper breaks, to subsidized meals or a place to eat their own, that fire extinguishers are all places strategically, that emergency exits are properly labeled. There were some water faucets that were out of service and made it difficult for workers to access water, and we communicated that concern to the factory. They immediately acknowledge it, and took the necessary steps to repair them.

One of the main goals I had while in Pakistan, was to understand what it felt like to work everyday on the making of soccer balls. In order to do that, I asked people involved in the making of soccer balls to teach me about the work they do, and to allow me to participate in the making. I want use that opportunity to understand exactly how our products are made, have other people at Senda experience that, and then work with workers and the factory to find ways to make processes better

We might never become expert soccer ball stitchers, or screen printers, but by understanding better the work they do we can work along with them to make processes better, safer, and more efficient. It also makes us get closer to workers, and show them that we care, and we are willing to put ourselves in their shoes.

There is an opportunity for brands to empower consumers with knowledge about who makes their products, share their stories, and allow them to make a difference in their lives by committing to treating them with the respect that we believe everyone in this country deserves. I hope that more brands will embark in such a journey, and also that more consumers demand that from the companies they buy from.