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?
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.”
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.
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.
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
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 .
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…
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
“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!
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!
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.
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.
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. ”
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!
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.
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!