A goal that we always have at Senda, is to offer products that are as good as any other similar options in the market, with the added value of Fair Trade, and the opportunity for customers to Share the Game with others.
In order to ensure that, we work with hundreds of coaches and players to test our products, and get feedback. Recently, we had the great opportunity to do product testing with Sam Cronin, who is the starting Center Midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as Quakes trialist Josh Suggs, and former CAL Captain Tony Salciccia. During a beautiful South Bay afternoon we tested our top of the line Senda Volta, along with the Nike Seitiro, and the Adidas Prime Match balls. Our goal was to check where our Volta Premier Match ball stands , compared to the two most popular brands with the best leagues in the World.
For testing, we looked at 3 main indicators: performance during crossings, performance during shots, and finally overall touch and feel of the ball.
Test 1: Crossings
When making a series of long distance crosses for Sam, Josh and Tony enjoyed the responsiveness and precision of the Volta, which surpassed that of the Adidas Prime, and matched that of the Nike Seitero. In terms of long crossings, the Volta flies well in the air and it does not “shake,” like the Adidas ball does.
The Adidas Prime uses the same thermo-bonded technology as the Jabulani (official match ball for 2010 South Africa World Cup) which was a nightmare for most goalies because it moves a lot when it flies long distances, for examples in in crosses and free kicks. The Prime improved in this aspect, but it still curves in rather unpredictable ways, unlike the Volta and Seitiro models.
Test 2: Shots
When it comes to striking the ball, the Volta felt a little bit harder than the Seitiro and Prime. Players said that this did not mean that it was more difficult or uncomfortable, just a ball characteristic that you notice after using all three balls. The harder outer surface can benefit players with strong shots when they strike the ball, offering more immediate power. Some players who don’t like harder balls might not like this aspect, and this comes down to personal preference.
The Adidas Prime is the ball that travels the most out of the three, but it can be quiet inaccurate because it gets more power only if a player strikes the ball “just right.” That it is not always easy after winning a 50/50 ball, hitting a ball at high speed, or in other game scenarios, and players preferred a ball that offered consistency in different scenarios, and not just clean shots.
Test 3: Touch
In terms of touch the Senda Volta is little bit harder than the Seitero and Prime, both which have a “spongy” feeling. The top-of-the-line Japanese synthetic leather used in the Volta resembles more the older Match balls used in the late 90′s, compared to the newer synthetic materials developed by Nike and Adidas.
“With a lot of balls, it takes a long time to get used to them,” Suggs commented. “With the Volta one gets to know the ball rather fast, and it provides a consistent response in different game-like scenarios”
Although it was the first time that all 3 players where introduced to the Volta, they did not feel any inconsistencias with the ball, and they felt that it was up there with the Nike Seitero, and above the Adidas Prime when it came to overall touch, shooting, and making/receiving crosses.
From our end, after talking with Sam, Tony and Josh, and asking for their honest feedback, we feel that we have succeeded in making a top of the line ball that’s as good, if not better, than that of the two market leaders in soccer. That makes us proud. Very proud!
Meanwhile, we will continue to research the latest cover materials available for different types of match balls, to make sure that Senda is taking advantage of the latest technologies available to make the best performing product.
But whatever new materials are developed using technology, they have to be tested and approved on the field, where the magic happens. Technology, for technology’s sake is not the answer. The final word should come from players and coaches on the fields, and not just from the labs. Right now, it seems like we are in good hands with a Volta Match ball, that has some of the traditional characteristics one finds in Japanese cordley leather, which is one of the best on the World.
The story to make the best posible Match ball leveraging technology and embracing Fair Trade continues, and we will keep you posted!
“O conhecimento do Brasil passa pelo futebol.”
Translation: “One’s knowledge of Brazil happens through football.”
-Jose Lins do Rego
At Senda, one of the things we enjoyed the most is to hear stories of how our soccer balls travel to far away places, and used in different locations we never really imagined. We love hearing from customers who end up becoming Senda Ambassadors, and share their passion for what we do, as well as their Senda balls, in places like Japan, Norway, Argentina, Morocco, Alaska, and South Africa. They often times send us their reflections on the trip, and we want to share the latest one, from our latest ambassador in Brazil: Juliano. Here is the story he shared with us, and our readers:
My experience with soccer culture in Brazil has expanded my outlook on the diverse nature of the sport. I grew up in the United States, but I am half Brazilian, and I’ve been to Brazil several times to visit family. Though I have spent a significant amount of time in Brazil, every trip is a cultural experience for me. I spent three weeks there, in December and January, visiting family and enjoying the coast of São Paulo. During this time, I played lots of pickup soccer, and visited O Museu do Futebol (The Museum of Football) at Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo.
The first time I played pickup soccer after arriving in Brazil was at a cement futsal court near my grandparent’s house. I arrived to the court just as a new team was taking the pitch. Curious and eager to play, I asked if they had a spot for one more to join them. The response I got was, “Demorou,” which best translates to “I thought you’d never ask,” or “You should have asked earlier.” It’s basically a politely aggressive way of saying “Of course” and welcoming me into their pickup game. The group was made up of a mix of some younger guys in their twenties, and some middle aged guys. To be honest, I expected the level to be low. I was wrong. These guys weren’t there to mess around. The intensity and passion by which they played was invigorating. It felt like the game was do or die; players protected the goal like their life depended on it, and every missed opportunity was a dagger to the heart. Yet by the same token, they had a certain light heartedness that made it clear that this was a pelada.
Pelada is the Brazilian name for pickup game, and it literally means “naked.” I don’t think there is a more perfect name for it. Pickup games literally strip the sport down to its core. People play out of pure enjoyment and passion for the game without all the business and money behind most sports today. In Brazil, peladas are more than a game. It is a culture unified by the sport of soccer, and a country that boasts the most international success in the history of the sport. The guys I played with were fanatics who had grown up with the sport. Their understanding of the game was developed through years of exposure. These guys were neither the most athletic guys, nor the most skilled, but they had a knack for the game. Playing in their pelada was a great way to discern how soccer is so engrained in Brazilian culture.
Another memorable experience from my trip to Brazil was my visit to the Museu do Futebol. An idea of Pelé, the museum was created as homage to the strong history of football within the country. It is located inside the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, a public stadium where many of the biggest teams in Brazil play. I expected a small museum with a couple small exhibits, but found it to be a complete experience and more. I took two hours on the tour, but felt like I could’ve spent the entire day there. There were entire sections devoted to old soccer photos, Brazilian superstars and heroes, multimedia sections with radio and television clips, world cups, records, the evolution of soccer equipment and rules, referees, fans, and much more. Frankly I overwhelmed because there was so much soccer left and right. The incredible thing is that the exhibit was primarily about Brazilian soccer, with only contextual references the rest of the world. It is amazing that the sport has so much history in Brazil.
Playing soccer in Brazil has not only widened my worldviews, but also given me a unique look at the game itself. I believe that soccer is something universal enough to connect people throughout the world, and it also provides a special lens through which we can learn a lot about a culture.
I was introduced to Senda at a small-sided soccer tournament in Berkeley, California, and I was immediately drawn to the company. I am an avid soccer player and fan. I think that the Fair Trade model is something to admire in any business, especially in a worldwide market like soccer. Brazil is a prime example of a culture with a love and passion for the game that also faces problems of poverty and extreme inequality. Senda promotes a higher standard for soccer products, and encourages the society and sport to be just at all levels. Fair trade is an opportunity for people to take responsibility and make positive change through a medium that can be universally understood.
We are starting a monthly showcase of a videos, covering in detail different types of soccer movements from our partner SkillzAndDrillz, which has close to 225.000 views at YouTube.
This is a great way for players of all ages to learn new cool and useful skills, and impress their friends, coaches and not at least their opponents on the field with.
The videos have fantastic step-by-step instructions making it easy and visual for viewers to learn.
We hope you will enjoy our monthly SkillzAndDrillz video, starting with none less than one of the best players in the history, Zinedine Zidane’s “Pull Back Flick”
Visit Skillz and Drillz and stay tuned for his videos and updates!
This month’s video:
Senda’s founder Santiago Halty recently had a chance to see David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Kean and the LA Galaxy get ready for a 2012 MLS “All or nothing” Playoff game. It was a fantastic experience to see how World-class players prepare for crucial games, in an environment of hostility, and high-pressure. Here is the video we want to share with you:
Right before the game, David Beckham announced he would end his career with the LA Galaxy, and some speculated that he would going to retire afterwards. He recently announced that he would leave the MLS to continue playing in a different league, which has yet to be announced.
We had a chance to show Beckham and several LA Galaxy players a Senda Fair Trade soccer ball! Many were intrigued about our products and mission. Now we need to get a few of them to start playing with them in the off season…
Beckham has a long, prestigious, and controversial career, and has become a soccer and marketing icon. He started playing professionally with Manchester United in 1992 at age 17. He has since played for Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, and the L.A. Galaxy. Beckham has played over 100 games for the English National team, playing in 3 World Cups (’98, ’02, ’06), and missing the 2010 World Cup due to a torn Achilles tendon.
It will be interesting to see where Beckham will continue his career as a player, and if he will return to the MLS as a team owner or manager. Meanwhile, we will continue to work to see if we can see him bending a Senda Fair Trade ball, perhaps at an upcoming charity game..
Sam Cronin, of San Jose Earthquakes, visits Senda’s Offices
Before the end of the 2012 Season, we had the chance to catch up with Sam Cronin, who has been a supporter of Senda since the very beginning, and has helped us test our different ball models. Here is a summary of our conversation!
Santiago – “Who are your soccer heroes?”
“…growing up, the player I always idolized was Paul Scholes from Manchester United so, try to mirror my game after his a little bit. I have a lot of respect for his loyalty to Man U, and just the quality of player he is.”
Santiago –“What would you say is the motto that you try to live by, your success motto?”
“I keep it pretty simple: I just try to improve every day, and give my best every day. I’m not a, kind of big picture guy, I just, focus on each day and make the most of each day and, it’s worked out for me so far.”
Santiago –“What has been your best moment as a soccer player?”
“I would probably say, professionally is probably making the playoffs in 2010, and beating New York in the first round which we weren’t expected to do, but a moment I’ll always cherish in my career is back in college, when our team won the national championship. Just the group of guys we had and all the work we put in as a team to get to that point was really special to win that together as a team.”
Santiago –“What team and what year was that?”
“That was Wake Forest University in 2007.”
Santiago –“ What has been your most difficult moment as a soccer player?”
“Yeah when I was in Toronto FC I had a pretty successful rookie season and the next year the new coach came in and, I just wasn’t in his plans. After a few months I was traded to San Jose, which has turned out to be a good situation for me. But in the short term back then, you know, whenever you’re traded its like you hit a cross road: it’s a defining moment whether you’re going to step things up and make the most of it or if, you’re gonna let that—the coach’s kinda lack of confidence in you, bleed over and affect your play.
It was a moment when I just really put my head back down, got to work again, and I’m happy with where things turned out now.”
“I just think soccer is, as they say, is the world’s game. You go anywhere in the world and there are kids playing soccer and for the most part it brings smiles to their faces. It’s such a simple game, but a source of so much national pride and happiness for kids all over the world. So as a professional player I think I’m in a unique position to leverage that and to impact people’s lives, especially kids. I know when I was a kid I looked up to certain players and people and yeah, so I think soccer is a great vehicle to execute change in the world.”
Santiago –“You learned quite a few things about Fair Trade in Soccer since we first met a year and a half. Why do you think Fair Trade is important in Soccer?”
“I think it’s important in soccer but also in, in every other production in the world. I mean, you here so often, especially in recent years, about malpractice in terms of factories and workers across the world so, as the world continues to progress it’s important that no one is left behind, no countries are being victims of poor practices, especially in factories with cheap labor, so I think it’s important. And I think it’s great what Senda’s doing just to be active in that community, and hopefully more companies will take on the Fair Trade mentality.
Check out Sam Cronin testing Senda Soccer balls in San Francisco!!
Made By Hand is a store in Bethany Beach Delaware which sells all kinds of Fair Trade items, and in October of 2012 it started selling Senda Balls! Check out this guest post by Made By Hand’s co-owner, Kimberly, who owns the store with her husband Marco.
I’m an anthropologist who has worked in development for decades, and my husband and I’s greatest desire in life is to see an end to poverty. After I worked with many different projects around the world, I was not being satisfied with the results, especially considering all the money spent (i.e. like with USAID, etc.).I was curious about the Fair Trade model (this is in the early 1990s when Fair Trade was called Alternative Trade). Marco and I walked into a Pueblo to People store in Houston (Marco, a Latin America folk musician, was looking for zampoñas and someone recommended this shop), and we read that the artisans were getting paid and treated fairly.I was writing a book on migration at the time, so while doing research, we decided to visit some villages in Guatemala where the women sold handicrafts to Fair Trade marketers. The results were impressive to say the least: kids didn’t have swollen bellies from malnutrition, but rather had on school uniforms; women had respect and hope for the future.Marco and I knew we had to get involved in this movement directly. We went to several NAATO conferences (North American Alternative Trade Organization) and helped form the Fair Trade Federation from which the new term Fair Trade was born. Marco and I analyzed what was needed most in Fair Trade and the answer was obvious, more 100% Fair Trade retail outlets, so in 1996 we opened Made By Hand.Seventeen years later, Made By Hand has grown tremendously. We work with artisans in 36 countries. We visit producers each year and have been able to give small grants from money leftover after we pay our bills to different groups helping with infrastructural needs. We also give every year to SERRV‘s development program for artisans. Myself and several others created the Fair Trade Resource Network, a non-profit educational organization, because back in the 1990s not many people knew about Fair Trade and we knew we needed an organization to get the word out.Most of all, Marco and I feel we are the ones who are blessed by working in Fair Trade. People say, “Oh, how great to help people.” No, it’s really the other way around. We get to go to work everyday knowing that what we do is making the world a better place. How lucky we are! And since we love to travel we can step off a plane in any country and have friends there — we may not have met each other yet, but we are already united by our mutual respect and love for each other.
On September 29th, 2012, America SCORES cities nationwide joined forces to beat the Guinness World Record for the most soccer balls ever dribbled by a group at one time. There were 749 dribblers in San Francisco at the historic Candlestick Park, and 2,149 total across all participating America SCORES cities! Beating the old record of 2,068 set by the U.N. in Gaza Strip, America Scores successfully pulled of a truly incredible feat!
Lot of Senda soccer balls to help break the record!
Check out the latest coach profile on Tim Newsome. Not only does he coach soccer and futsal all over the Bay Area, but he can teach you in the privacy of your own living room (or backyard) through his YouTube Channel. Visit Skillz and Drillz and stay tuned for his videos and updates!
- What is your youth background in terms of soccer (or football as you tend to say across the pond)?
I Grew up in England and Football was the sport (and still is) that everyone played. I played all through school and gained my coaching licenses in the UK before having an opportunity to come the US and coach.
- When and how did you get involved in coaching in the United States?
During my second year at college in the UK, I saw a flyer on the student board from the MLS. It was asking for English coaches to come out and coach summer camps through the MLS organization in many cities across America. Scraping together some ‘flight’ money, I managed to get over that summer for 3 months. I coached in the Bay Area my entire stay. After this, I went back home and graduated college in my final year. I was lucky enough to get a call from a contact here in the US. They had asked me if I want to come back out but on a full time basis. Before the phone was down, I was packing my bags ready to come out again. From going back to the UK to obtain my Masters degree in 2008 reading Sports Management and the Business of Football, I have pretty much resided here here the South Bay Area since. I love it here!
- How and why did you start making YouTube videos?
Living in Silicon Valley (the Bay Area) for the past several years has really opened up the tech side of me. My passion for reading and understanding technology from this area really inspired me to have a go at doing something myself. I thought, what could i do that involves my soccer knowledge and tech hobby? From there it was simple.
I wanted to share my soccer knowledge to a wider audience and the only way to really do that is via the internet. With my creative thinking, I literally grabbed a camera and went out there and made my first video, “the backwards scissors”. I knew I could record things but it was the editing and putting together that I needed to be creative with. From here my video’s have grown and we now have our iOS app. There is still so much more to come and we haven’t reached our first birthday yet!
- What is your most memorable coaching moment?
When I was studying for my Masters degree in 2008, I got the opportunity to coach in Zambia, Africa for 3 weeks. I jumped at the chance. We helped out at a local school where kids would walk 5+ miles a day just to attend. We coached soccer to the kids in an effort to increase the awareness of HIV/AIDS to enable the children to live safe and healthy lives.
Towards the end of my stay, we decided to treat all the kids to a bottle of coca-cola. This was a rare thing for them and some and never had it before. One boy came up to me and asked for the money, instead of the drink. I was hesitant at first because it can be dangerous kids having money on the streets due to the crimes in the villages. However, I said sure and he took the money from my hand and walked next door. I followed him to see where he was going and I found him picking out some rice to buy to take home and feed his parents and siblings. That moment never leaves me and is the most memorable.
- Who is your favorite soccer player of all time?
As a soccer coach, I sleep, eat and drink soccer. There are many good players that I have witnessed then and still playing now. If I had to choose a player that I was fond of whilst growing up it would Zinedine Zidane!
- Why does Fair Trade matter to you?
Fair Trade is important to me as I think it’s only right the workers who make products such as soccer balls get paid and treated the same. If we as consumers are going to reap the benefits of such quality goods, it’s only right to have the workers receive fair benefits for their hard work. In addition, I also like sharing the Senda story with the teams I coach and how important Fair Trade is.
One of Tim Newsome’s great videos:
We are proud to announce that Senda soccer products are available at a historic Bay Area store: Sunset Soccer!
As soon as word got out in the Bay that a new Fair Trade soccer company (SENDA) was launching in Berkeley back in 2010, we received a message from Sunset Soccer, which said that they wanted to test out and carry our products at their store. What a great moment for Senda!
More than just a soccer store, Sunset Soccer both looks and feels like a museum! The store opened its doors in 1981 as the first soccer specialty store in San Francisco. Their two stores now carry almost all of Senda’s ball collection, including the Valor Training series, the Apex Match series, and the Rio Futsal.
So next time you are in San Francisco or San Rafael, and want to check out some of Senda’s best selling Fair Trade soccer balls, stop by to see them! Sunset Soccer’s two stores are still run by Toby and Libby Rappolt, two coaches that have contributed an enormous amount to the Bay Area soccer community. When you don’t find them in their store, you’ll see them out at the fields coaching or promoting the game in their community.
Because their store is a place for all kinds of soccer aficionados, on the weekends you’ll find Sunset filled with people who have dropped by to talk about soccer, check out the latest soccer gear, or to watch one of the soccer matches playing on their TVs.
Senda Athletics founder Santiago Halty recounts his 10 day journey in Sialkot, Pakistan, where he visited the factory where Senda’s Fair Trade soccer balls are produced. This is his sixh blog post from his trip.
In this last installment of Santiago’s blog posts about his trip to Pakistan, he describes a theme that was very much important to him, interactions with the locals during travel.
I wanted to have some of the typical experience of people’s lives in Pakistan. A lesson I learned from traveling is that sports, especially soccer, has the power to connect people, no matter their differences. And by connecting with locals when we travel we can better understand their way of living, as well as discover unique ways to make a positive impact during our stay. All of these combined will ultimately help us become more responsible travelers, who can learn to respect and embrace the local way of living, and discover ways to positively impact the communities we visit. During my stay, I got to experience and leverage two different sports: a game I was familiar with and a game that the locals grew up playing.
One day after touring Senda’s ball factory, I went back to the neighborhood of some of the factory workers. The locals organized a soccer game on a local field, about two miles away from the factory. I saw all kinds of people playing (some without shoes!) with grass and dirt all over them. Many of the kids thought it was interesting to see a foreigner visit them. We played two 25-minute halves, until it got so dark that no one could see the ball anymore. It was a fun and intense game, and unfortunately, my team ended up losing 0-1 with a goal in the last 10 of the game.
I thought it was only going to be a pick-up game, but somehow someone out of nowhere brought out a trophy for the winning team. This gesture showed how caring the people from Pakistan were to me. I gave the “captain” of the other team a Senda Fair trade soccer ball, so they could remember the game after I was gone. Afterwards, I was invited to the house of one of the people who played in the game. We ended up talking about the game we played, international soccer life in general in the USA and Pakistan. I really enjoyed playing soccer with the locals: it was a great way of meeting new people and seeing how they live.
One thing that I had never done before was play Pakistan’s national sport, cricket. It was also in a “pick-up” format, in the yard of one of the families I visited while learning how to stitch a Senda ball in a village. It was a bit of a challenge to understand all the rules of the game, but I was able to try my luck at the bat, I even hit a few balls, and really I tried it. It helped me earn people’s respect, and I got smiles from everyone watching. Overall, I was extremely happy with how my trip went, and having the opportunity to play sports with the locals really allowed me to connect with people in a unique and special way. I highly recommend you try the same next time you are going somewhere new!
How about you? Do you have any personal stories of playing sports with the locals while traveling ? Comment below!