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Coach Profile: Dan and Sara (HappyFeet: Des Moines, Iowa)

Coach Daniel

For Senda’s second coach profile, we interviewed two coaches over at HappyFeet in Des Moines, Iowa. Daniel and Sara both answered our questions about coaching young children, fair trade, and their most memorable moments.

How is it like to coach soccer to 2-5 year olds?

Sara: This is the most amazing job I have ever had! Before becoming the director, I was a coach for about a year (and am currently still coaching). I work with training the new coaches to help them understand how to explain soccer to such young children! This age group is so much fun, it’s amazing to see how quickly they learn and how much fun they have with our curriculum.

Daniel:  Coaching this age group is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.  Just watching them grow as little soccer players is amazing.  They soak up everything that you teach them and it is amazing watching them try the things that we teach them.  They want to learn this game and they get so excited every week for HappyFeet to visit their school.  I love seeing that excitement and that is what drives me every day.

What aspects of the game do you try to emphasize at such a young age?

Sara: The things we try to emphasize is just being comfortable with a soccer ball. Most kids are so used to picking up any type of ball and throwing it, so learning to use their feet is a very new skill. We teach skills such as pull backs, step overs, and pendulums. Our goal is for them to get the motion down and as they grow older they will start to understand what the move is used for and have more confidence during a real game to do as many moves as possible!

What is HappyFeet’s coaching philosophy? What do you hope to accomplish?

Sara: Our coaching philosophy is very child centered. We aren’t all about the “winners” or the amazing players, we understand that every child has a different set of skills and everyone can’t be like Cristiano Ronaldo! What we hope to accomplish is that every child has confidence in themselves. We want them to grow up knowing to not be afraid to go out of their comfort zone and try something different, in soccer and in life.

What was the most memorable HappyFeet moment you had during a lesson/game?

Daniel: I have two memorable moments. The first one was getting a group of two year olds that I’ve been working with for months to do step overs. Just watching their teacher’s jaws drop in amazement was awesome. One of the teachers came up to me later and told me how incredible it was watching them do this move because they couldn’t even tie their own shoes, walk in a straight line, etc. But when challenged they could do a step over, no problem.

The other memorable moment was this Spring in our first HappyFeet League.  I had a very young team (4 years old) that was eager to learn, but at the same time very timid with this new experience.  I had one child in particular that always wanted to score at least one goal a game, no matter what.  On the very last day he was starting to get upset because he hadn’t scored yet, so I told him that he had to win the ball in order to score a goal.  So what did he do?  He went down the field and stole the ball from the other team.  He was so excited that he just froze and couldn’t figure out what to do next.  I kept telling him to do a pull back to change direction and go the other way.  It took him about five seconds to unfreeze but when he did, he did the pull back move, changed directions away from the other team and ran down the field and scored.  He came right up to me with a huge smile yelling “I did it, I did it!  Did you see that?  I did it, I did it!”  As he gave me a high five, I had a tear in my eye and so did his parents on the sidelines.  This kid stepped up to the challenge, didn’t back down, and accomplished what he wanted to do.  That is what drives me and my coaches every day!  Watching these kids accomplish their dreams on the field and in the classrooms is one of the most amazing feelings the world.

How has the soccer scene evolved in Iowa over the last 10-15 years?

Sara:It has evolved like CRAZY. We have a huge soccer market here and I know when I was growing up it was still growing. It is still a growing market and I am excited to see how it will grow in the future.

HappyFeet Iowa's newest bobcat.

How do you think players aged 2-5 will respond to the concept of fair trade when you introduce your new Senda balls this coming season?

Sara: I don’t know if they will know! BUT we will let them know and explain the importance. I think a lot of them will really appreciate their new bobcats.

What piece of advice would you give to coaches that work with very young players?

Daniel:  Have fun and be yourself.  If you are always worrying about what these little kids are thinking about you then you will never be successful.  You have to have fun, be goofy, act crazy and just plain make them laugh and smile.  If you can do that then not only will you be having fun but the kids will too, and that is what matters the most.  If they are having fun and learning at the same time then you are doing your job.

If you’re in the Des Moines area, or just want to learn more about young children and soccer, visit HappyFeet’s website.

Coach Sara

 

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Fair Trade Joint Body Discusses New Community Projects

Attending the Joint Body meeting with the help of my host, Ehsan (left).

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 fifth blog post from his trip. 

View the first post [+] | View the second post [+]  | View the third post [+]View the fourth post [+] 

Before arriving in Sialkot, Pakistan, one of the activities I was looking forward to the most, was meeting our ball stitchers’ and workers’ Joint Body. As part of of its commitment to Fair Trade, Senda pays a Fair Trade Premium with every ball, which is used for community projects, like healthcare and education. The Joint Body is a group of workers who are democratically elected by their peers that discuss and decide how those Fair Trade premiums can be used to benefit their coworkers and community. The Joint Body is composed of eight workers, including three factory workers, three ball stitchers, and two people from management.

I was able to participate in a Joint Body meeting and listened to some of the ideas they had to improve community projects and create new ones. There were talks about bringing a doctor at the factory to do medical check-ups, as well as putting together an eye clinic.

In addition, my host Ehsan and I met with people from a microcredit bank, to learn from them about the most successful micro-finance projects, which could potentially be started by workers’ family members.

It is through these projects aimed at improving the lives of the people making Senda’s soccer balls that provide an opportunity to make a difference. We couldn’t do this without the support of coaches, players, and parents who choose Senda whenever they need soccer equipment.

We want to thank everybody who has supported us in the last two years, and invite everyone who loves soccer to join us!

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Guest Blog: Designed Good’s Katy and Her Favorite Soccer Memory

What's your favorite soccer memory? A pickup game in the park on a spring day? A beach soccer tournament at Santa Cruz?

In Senda’s second guest blog post Katy Gathright, co-founder at Designed Good, shared with us her thoughts and stories on the Beautiful Game, giving back, and her favorite soccer memory: a flash party.

People talk all the time about giving others access to resources. But the process of giving back to people should also be accessible. I think it makes more sense to build a world where the things we use are connected to the things we think and imagine.

Last month, one of my best friends and I were sitting in the local coffee shop in Williamstown on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by people talking and studying and ordering iced lattes. He turned to me and said we deserved to do something really fun. Happy to validate this escape from our normal hang out spot, I agreed. He suggested we grab a soccer ball and take his amp down to the fields called Poker Flats where there was an outdoor electrical outlet to plug it in. We headed the half mile down to the fields, texting everyone we knew on the way, and held a flash soccer party. That was one of the best afternoon hours of my spring.

We weren’t kicking around a Senda ball then, but now that I’ve started a conversation around their products, I think about Foster the People blaring across the Poker Flats field and how much fun it was to play outside with my friends. I love that Senda balls not only support and help others, but also give people a place and a context to feel their very best. It is with this frame of mind – that sunny afternoon kind of feeling – that terms like fair trade and social change take on real meaning.

That’s why we love Senda’s fair trade soccer balls at Designed Good. It’s not particularly mysterious why we’ve picked them out of the crowd: Their products are both supportive of communities and high-quality in their own right. Senda balls are actually made for people to play real, fun soccer, and the stories of the people they help are inspiring on a relatable level.

Katy Gathright is a co-founder at Designed Good, a website where members can discover and purchase awesome products with a socially-conscious edge. 
Want to keep up the conversation? Drop her a line at: Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Also check out Senda’s guest blog a Designed Good here.

Katy had a flash soccer party. What’s your favorite soccer memory? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Coach Profile: Antoine (Street Soccer USA, Bay Area)

Antoine coaching his team.

Senda Athletics had the chance to interview Antoine about his connection to one of our non-profit partners, Street Soccer USA. Also check out the news story that CBS 5 San Francisco did about Street Soccer USA in the video below.

Name: Antoine Lagarde

Coach: Street Soccer USA, Bay Area, San Francisco

Nationality: France/USA

Age: 30

Occupation: SF Conservation Corps Teacher

Playing Position: Midfield

Soccer Heroes: Eric Cantona & Socrates

Motto: “Success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm. My job as a coach is to motivate my players to always to always go hard.

So you coach a team of homeless and disadvantaged youth in San Francisco, what makes you the happiest when coaching a team like that?

Antoine: I am happy when my more advanced players patiently teach our beginners how to play. I am happiest when the positive attitude on our team inspires our players to go to college, find work, stop using drugs/alcohol, and get back on their feet!

What has been your best moment as a coach?

Antoine: My favorite moment was coaching the USA National team at the Homeless World Cup in Paris. We struggled at first, but became a family and finished the tourney at the best ranking the USA has ever had. It was a total team effort with everyone scoring at least 3 goals and leaving everything on the field. Out of our 7 players, 5 are currently coaching and using football to create positive transformations in the lives of their peers.

What was your most difficult moment on the soccer field as a player?

Antoine: My worst moment on the field wasn’t so much embarrassing as heartbreaking. I missed a couple of penalties against Kyrgyzstan when I represented the USA at the Milan Homeless World Cup which put our hopes of advancing to the next round in jeopardy.

What was your most triumphant moment on the soccer field as a player?

Antoine: Fortunately, I atoned for my mistakes by playing excellent defense against France in the next game and helping us upset them and qualify for the next round where I scored a couple of penalties in the quarterfinals. I was proud to be mentally tough by clearing my head and helping the team win.

What does supporting Fair Trade mean to you?

Antoine: It’s very important to me because as a teacher, I teach my students about globalization by showing them a soccer ball and asking them to describe it. We then explore who made the soccer ball, the possibility that it was a young child in Pakistan in poor working conditions, and talk about supporting efforts to pay workers a living wage through Fair Trade.

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Fair Price Shop: Making Food More Affordable for Workers

We visited the Fair Price Shop, which allows workers to buy basic food products at a wholesale price. Combining their collective power with the Fair Trade Premium they receive, workers can save on food, and do more with their earnings.

Senda Athletics founder Santiago Halty continues recounting his 10 day journey in Sialkot, Pakistan, where he visited the factory where Senda’s Fair Trade soccer balls are produced. This is his fourth blog post from his trip. 

View the first post [+] | View the second post [+]  | View the third post [+] | View the fourth post [+] View the fifth post [+] 

On my recent trip to Pakistan, I visited the Fair Price Shop. Located in the factory, the Fair Price Shop is run and used by the workers to purchase food staples, such as rice, cooking oil, flour, and tea, at a wholesale price.

The Fair Price Shop is run by the Joint Body, a group of workers that decides how the Fair Trade premiums that Senda pays is used to better their community (read Santiago’s blog better explaining the Joint Body here).

The ultimate goal of the Fair Price Shop is to provide accessible, affordable, and quality food to workers at a price they can afford. The workers spend a lot of their income on food staples, and the Joint Body wants them to be able to stretch their purchasing power.

The Fair Trade Shop is extremely accessible to the workers. First, they create a list of items that they want to purchase for the week for them and their families, and bring it with them to work. After work, they go to the Fair Price Shop and purchase the items on their list.

During my time in Pakistan, I asked the workers about what they thought of the Fair Price Shop. One suggestion that was shared by several workers was the need for affordable medicine. We are excited to announce that in about two to three months, the Joint Body will set up Fair Price Medicine Shop , which will make available affordable medication to our factory workers.

We believe that happier people create better products, so we will continue to support our workers with help from the Fair Price Shop and the Joint Body.

Hope you will join us, next time you need a quality soccer ball!

Santiago

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Senda, All the Way in Alaska

A Senda RIO Futsal ball in Alaska!

Senda takes pride in having some of the best soccer supporters out there: people who love the game unconditionally!

In this guest blog post from Patrick Solana Walkinshaw, living in Dillingham, Alaska, he tells us how he fought to keep the game alive in the coldest of circumstances:

Moving to rural Alaska has been a family adventure. We wanted to get away from the hectic city lifestyle, be in nature, and get to know our community. We have made some sacrifices to live here, but the one thing we haven’t been willing to give up is playing soccer. Given that the only grass in the community is the softball field and a small muddy patch near a playground, I decided to try my luck indoors. After a year of assuring school maintenance officials that soccer can be played indoors without balls breaking down walls and windows, in the fall of 2011, I started a futsal programs for ages 12 and up. Given that there are no sporting good stores in my community, I went online in search of a futsal I could rely on. I was pleased to see that there was a Fair Trade option through Senda because I support an economic system that treats our global community with respect and fairness. I am now positively connected through my little community in Alaska, to a small business in California, and to factory workers overseas. Thanks Senda!

Patrick Solana Walkinshaw

Dillingham, ALASKA

Patrick, a lover of soccer and a supporter of Senda, playing in Alaska.

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Meet Hassan, from the Packing Department

Senda Athletics Founder Santiago Halty continues his 10 day journey in Sialkot, Pakistan visiting the factory where Senda’s Fair Trade soccer balls are produced. This is his third blog post from his trip. 

View the first post [+] | View the second post [+]  | View the third post [+] | View the fourth post [+] View the fifth post [+] 

This week I learned a great deal about the process of making a Senda Fair Trade soccer ball. I saw all the dedication and attention to detail behind each product. Once our soccer balls have been made, they are inspected at quality control, washed, deflated and packed to be sent to our warehouse in Oakland, California.

Before coming to visit, we received pictures of people involved in making and sending us the balls. One of those pictures was of the packing department, and it included a smiley person who captured our attention,

Hassan.

Meeting Hassan was a bit like meeting someone I already knew as he is famous at Senda’s office. I was even asked by our PR manager Alessandro to look for him when I arrived at the factory and get a picture together.

I am bringing some photos of Hassan signed by himself back home, one for Alessandro, one for me, and one for our office!

I had a chance to meet and talk with Hassan, and learned about his life and hopes for the future.

Soon we will be making videos with the stories of Hassan and other people behind Senda’s soccer balls, so that you can see first hand the importance of supporting Fair Trade, and the dedication of the people working to get you the best soccer ball possible.

Thanks for joining us in changing the world through soccer, and see you on the field!

Santiago

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The Human Connection: Fair Trade Producers and Consumers

With the help of my host in Pakistan, Mr. Ehsan, I talked to the women workers about the different people who use Senda soccer balls.

Senda Athletics Founder Santiago Halty continues his 10 day journey in Sialkot, Pakistan visiting the place where Senda’s Fair Trade soccer balls are produced. This is his second blog post from his trip. View the first post here.

View the first post [+] | View the second post [+]  | View the third post [+] | View the fourth post [+] View the fifth post [+] 

What a great day I had at the Fair Trade factory today! I can already recognize the faces of some of the people working in the different areas of Senda’s soccer ball production. People are beginning to feel comfortable seeing a foreigner around and simply chatting with me.

When I was in Berkeley preparing for my trip to visit our Fair Trade soccer ball producers, I wanted to come with something to give to the workers, and help break the ice. Bringing a physical gift for everyone was out of the question, as I did not have enough room in my luggage to do so! I started to ask for advice to people close to me and Senda.

My mother, who has been an amazing supporter of Senda from day one, always talks about Fair Trade as a way to bring dignity and pride to people through their work.

Following her advice, my team and I worked hard on making a video where players who purchased a Senda product directly thank the workers for the quality soccer balls they produce.

I was able to show that video to the workers today and it was a fantastic feeling to see their smiles and expressions when they saw people of all ages enjoying the Senda soccer balls.

Senda’s rock-star videographer intern (you know it’s you Abby!), made the video just in time for my trip. She included the word “Shukriya”, which means thank you in Urdu.

Check it out below.

Everyone should take pride in their work and feel they are making a difference. Often times, workers at factories are seen simply as labor inputs. It is tough for them to take pride in their work or find out what happens with the product after it has shipped from the factory.

As part of my trip to Pakistan, I want to start changing that paradigm, one person at a time.

As simple as it might seem, showing our factory workers the fruit of their labor can put a smile on their face. This simple act makes a big impact in how that person perceives their work.

A soccer ball brings so much happiness to those who use it. So, we wanted to make sure some of that joy went back to its source – the makers of the ball.

We know its a small gesture, but we are convinced that its well worth it.

Workers from the packing department got a kick out of hearing players of all ages saying “Thank You” in their language.

 

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Senda Arrives in Pakistan to Hear Stories Behind Fair Trade

Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls in Pakistan

After a long 14 hour journey and a bit of jetlag, I arrived in the city of Sialkot, Pakistan to visit the place where Senda’s Fair Trade soccer balls are produced. I couldn’t be more excited to be here and have the opportunity to meet the people behind each Senda soccer ball. I will be staying here for 10 days, and will be uploading posts and stories of my experience.

I am lucky to have a great host, Ehsan, who picked me up at the airport this morning. He has been educating me on local culture and also helps me communicate with workers.

My first impression was that people take a great amount of pride in their work, and that they enjoy meeting someone who came from so far away to see them.

A smile and kindness can do wonders and are universal communication tools that can span language barriers. I am looking forward to visiting the homes of some of the workers, learning how to stitch a ball from them, and hearing personal stories of how people’s lives have been improved thanks to Fair Trade.

Tomorrow, I will learn more about the entire production process of a Senda ball. We will look at a quality control process that guarantees Senda’s soccer balls match or surpass the quality of competitors across the board.

Remember, there is a face behind every Senda soccer ball you purchase. Help us support the factory workers and their right to make a fair wage. 

Senda stitchers in Pakistan

 

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Meet (y)our Fair Trade soccer ball stitchers

We are excited to announce that I (Sant­iago, founder of Senda) will be traveling to Pakistan May 9th, to visit the ball stitchers and workers involved in making our Fair Trade Soccer balls!

Our goal is to see first hand the impact our customers make in the lives of those who make their Senda soccer balls. I will be spending 10 days with ball stitchers and factory workers, to see first hand the impact of Fair Trade, get the stories behind the certi­fication, and bring those to you.

I will be visiting ball stitchers at home, sharing meals with them, hearing their stories, and even learning how to stich a ball myself!

This trip represents part of our efforts aimed at eradicating sweatshops by promoting a better way to do business, where more fairness and better personal relationships can be game changers.

Is there anything you would like me to do while visiting Pakistan? Any recom­mendations for street food, new ball designs you would like to see? Questions for the ball stitc­hers?

Let us know, and send us questions on our Facebook wall.

We will be writting daily reports on this trip and adven­ture, which takes us to meet the people behind the essence of the Beautiful Game: THE BALL.

More coming soon!

See you on the field,

Santiago

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