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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

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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

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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…

 

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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!

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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.

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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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