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#BeyondtheCup: Brazilians Share their Thoughts on the World Cup, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of Senda’s #BeyondtheCup series, where we give you an inside look at the World Cup in Brazil. Here, we will bring you the stories of many diverse individuals, each one with their own unique perspective on life, soccer, and the Cup. In our conversations with the local brasileiros, we seek answers to this simple question — “What does the World Cup mean to you?”

Senda’s 4th #BeyondTheCup story comes from Adriana, a waitress from San Pablo.

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Senda’s 5th #BeyondTheCup story is told by Nuno Arcanjo, a musician who hails from Belo Horizonte.

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Senda Athletics’ 6th #BeyondTheCup story is from Gabriel Almeida, an Office Manager who comes from Belo Horizonte.

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This story is part of a month-long photography series meant to share with the world the native Brazilians’ views on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But don’t think that their opinions are the only ones that matter! We want to hear from you as well! Let us know what you think of the World Cup so far on our Facebook page or on your social media outlets, using #BeyondTheCup.

#BeyondtheCup: Flashmob in Rio to support Soccer for Social Change

Yesterday, Senda Athletics participated in a flashmob in Rio to support NGOs working with blind, disabled, and at-risk individuals. The event, “Soccer for Social Change: Beyond the World Cup,” showcased soccer’s power to change lives.

The goal of the 10-minute long flashmob was to raise awareness about the crucial work of grassroots organizations and to encourage the public to leave the sidelines and help support the growing movement that uses soccer for social change.

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Accompanied by traditional Brazilian music, players from each organization performed a 2 minute skit featuring their unique take on soccer. As Brazilians rarely pass up on the opportunity to dance and let go, the audience was inspired to join the last several minutes of the flashmob. Afterwards, they were told more about the work of each organization and how to support their work.

Next, the audience got the chance to see what it’s like to play soccer in a power wheelchair. Another new experience for the spectators was completing (or at least attempting) soccer drills using blindfolds. These activities gave the crowd even more respect for those individuals who have to overcome physical challenges to play soccer.

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The flashmob could never have been the success that it was without the help of our fantastic friends and supporters. We at Senda would like to extend a special thank you to Urece Sports and Culture for the Blind, Rio de Janeiro Power Soccer Clube, @VisãodoFuturo, streetfootballworld and streetfootballworld Brasil.

We hope that our flashmob has inspired you to organize your own or to develop other creative ways of demonstrating soccer’s power to improve communities. By starting a flashmob, you will not only get to spread awareness about groups that use soccer for positive social change, but also have a ton of fun in the process!

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#BeyondtheCup: Brazilians Share their Thoughts on the World Cup

Welcome to Senda’s Beyond the Cup series, where we will give you an inside look at the World Cup in Brazil. Throughout the tournament, we will bring you the stories of 30 diverse individuals, each one with their own unique perspective on life, soccer, and the Cup. In our conversations with the local brasileiros, we seek answers to this simple question — “What does the World Cup mean to you?”

To start off our Beyond the Cup series, we sat down with Lara, a high school student who is not afraid to voice her opinions.

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Lara, speaks her mind on the World Cup

 

For the second installment of our Beyond the Cup series, we talked with Railson, a beach vendor who sells coconut water. Although we met him in the Flamengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, he is not a carioca (Rio native). Railson hails from Maranhão, a state in the northeast of Brazil.

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Railson, giving us his take on the Cup

Senda Athletics’ third Beyond the Cup story comes from Kazê Artist, a Power Soccer Player from Rio de Janeiro.

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Kaze, sharing his view on the World Cup

These stories are part of a month-long photography series meant to share with the world the native Brazilians’ views on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But don’t think that their opinions are the only ones that matter! We want to hear from you as well! Let us know what you think of the World Cup so far on our Facebook page or on your social media outlets, using #BeyondTheCup.

Brazil World Cup 2014: A Senda Ambassador’s Life in Rio de Janeiro, Part 2

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 Futevôlei

If you’re in Brazil this summer for the World Cup, there is a good chance you will be watching or playing football every waking moment. Even though football is the greatest thing to ever exist in the history of humanity, perhaps you will want slightly different activities from time to time (gasp!). So if you find yourself feeling a little bit of footy overload, I have just the cure – footvolley!

Footvolley, futevôley in Portuguese, was invented right here in Rio at Copacabana Beach.  It is a pretty big deal here in Rio and there are even professional teams and leagues that follow international regulations.  I won’t bore you with details about the rules. All you really need to know is that footvolley is essentially beach volleyball, except that players are not allowed to use their hands and a football is used instead of a volleyball.

Nets for footvolley are set up at each end of the Copacabana beach. Some near posto 1 in Leme and others between posto 5/6, opposite Leme, and almost to Ipanema). Copacabana has a posto about every half kilometer, which are important landmarks with lifeguard stations and pay bathrooms.

After watching footvolley for even a couple minutes, you will probably decide not to join in with these guys. Their skill is astounding, their shorts ludicrously small, their tans glorious, and their bodies artfully sculpted to attract beautiful women. They are so good with their feet that you may start to believe that playing volleyball with your hands is strictly for amateurs.

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Before jumping in on a footvolley game, I suggest honing your skills with friends. I think I will continue to practice on my own before I try my hand at playing a game with the locals. Unless you can use your chest to collect and rebound volleyballs with startling precision, you may be a little out of your depth at first.

I have also seen a lot of footvolley on the beach in Flamengo, where somehow the players’ shorts (tungas) are even smaller.

Beach soccer pickup (Futebol na praia)

When the sun drops, Copacabana comes alive with people exercising and playing futebol.  Go somewhere with a nice view to watch the sunset, then head out to play footy.  Being the birthplace of beach soccer, Copacabana has an amazing footballing infrastructure consisting of dozens of illuminated goal posts for volleyball and footvolley.  But be sure to bring your own nets!

Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls Brazil World Cup 2014

At Copacabana you will certainly find the perfect type of playing field to match your specific soccer needs. The beach is lined with small, medium, and large nets, and even various sized pitches. The beach is wide and has plenty of space for futebol. The best locations have huge nets behind the goals and are usually dominated by organized teams at peak hours.  Watching these young men for even a few moments, you will quickly realize how skills they are. They make juggling and possessing the ball in the air seem effortless. They are true artists and the ball is their medium of expression. While you may be confident in your ability to juggle the ball on solid ground, the circumstances change dramatically when you must retain possession while mired in sand with a pack of footballers trying desperately to rob you of the ball.

If you can only juggle 2 times and have only one juggling trick, do not fear, for there are still pickup opportunities for you.  One fantastic thing about Brazil is that finding a game is easy because nearly every Brazilian man, woman, and child plays.  Most people are very relaxed and will be more than happy to have you join in. All you have to do is go to the beach in the evening and look for a group of people hanging out juggling or playing small games. Usually around 7:00-8:00 in the evening, a group will gather around posto 2, which is where I live. They start juggling, warming up, and then start a small game of 2v2.  These games are fast-paced and exciting and sometimes draw an audience. Inevitably, as the intensity builds, more players arrive and a game of 5v5 or 7v7 will begin. That’s the way things work in Brazil.  Here, a small game of keep away can transform into a full-fledged pickup game in a flash.

Pickup Futebol Basics:

- Everyone plays goalie eventually, with a typical rotation system in place. Once scored on, you rotate out of goal. If you are absolutely exhausted from running in the sand, no one will tease you if you wish to take a breather and rotate to keeper.

- Games usually last two or three goals. When the game finishes, the team currently sitting rotates in for the recently vanquished team.

- If you are knackered, you can easily have someone sub in for you.  There is always someone who wants to play.

- Games usually go on for 1 to 1.5 hours.  When everyone is panting and struggling for air, a group of fresh players will rotate in.

Best strategy to play?

The best way to play beach soccer in Rio is just to go out there with no fear. In the evening, grab a beach soccer ball, head to the beach, identify a group of players, and simply tell them that you want to play.

In the rare occasion that you do not see people already playing, walk the length of the beach until you do, or just start juggling and warming up near an empty pitch. This will signal to others that you want to play. Eventually a game will form, or at the very least, some kids will approach you to kick the ball around. The amazing thing about Brazilians is that they are really friendly and welcoming to strangers.  If you see a Brazilian without a smile on their face, perhaps their pet goldfish just died or they recently stubbed their toe. I have never been denied access to a game, but I look like Michael Bradley and Zidane had a child – a big, bald baby!  Teams have even let me practice with them because I was gutsy enough to ask. I wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you are very confident in your skills and the coach seems laid-back.

Senda Fair Trade Soccer Balls Rio World Cup Brazil

Well, there you have it. That’s my take on playing futebol and futevolley on Copacabana beach. Although I outlined a rather complicated set of guidelines for getting in on the action, remember that nothing is better than simply heading out to the beach with nothing but a ball and your love for the game.

O Brasil é lindo maravilhoso, Brazil is magnificent!

Story from Casey Grady

Fair Trade in Action, Year 2: Delivering School Bags to Workers’ Children

In March of 2013, we were very excited to support our producers with a project to distribute school supplies to the workers’ children right ahead of the school year in Pakistan. This project put one hundred backpacks filled with pencils, pens, notebooks, and other supplies directly in the hands of schoolchildren. The delivery of the backpacks and school supplies generated a lot of enthusiasm on the part of both the parents and kids, and it was immediately apparent that this was a project that needed to grow! 

happy child with school supplies

The school bags project is a very symbolic initiative. As a part of an industry with a controversial history of child labor, we want to do more than just refuse to use child workers. We want to improve the lives of our workers’ children. To achieve this, we provide our (adult!) producers with fair wages to make sure that their children don’t have to work and and we help equip young students for school.

The success of this initial program has encouraged us to go even further to improve the educational futures of these children in 2014. To achieve these aims, we  partnered with Chicago Fair Trade, a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the Fair Trade movement and making sure that Chicago continues to be a leader in the international Fair Trade community. As soon as they heard about our campaign to provide our workers’ children with school supplies in 2013, they wanted to become involved to grow the impact. This year Fair Trade Chicago contributed to our  School Bags campaign, and together we were able to grow from 100 bags delivered in 2013, to 200 bags in April of 2014!

We are thrilled to be able to help support education in such a tangible way, and also to find others who want to be a part of this initiative. Now, two hundred more kids will be able to have access to brand new school materials as they prepare for a new year of learning.

Kids showing off their new school supplies from Senda's campaign

This is just a humble step towards improving the quality of life for our workers and their children, and we understand that there is still much more to be done. We will continue to work on growing our sales so that we can make a bigger impact. And we will work hard to actively listen to what workers have to say about these programs so that we can help improve not just their lives, but those of their children as well.

These types of programs are only possible because of our incredible customers, friends, and partners. Because of your desire to make a difference with the soccer equipment you choose, you are able to help improve workers’ lives. Thanks to you, 200 hundred children are now heading off to school better prepared to succeed!

A BIG thank you for your continued support of Senda and our Fair Trade mission. We are extremely pleased and so lucky to have you all as part of our team. I’m sure that our talented and hard-working Fair Trade producers are immensely grateful too!

Pakistani child proudly displaying his new backpack thanks to Senda's "School Supplies for Schoolkids" Campaign

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

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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Spotlight of Soccer series: Beach Soccer

Yuri Beach Soccer Shot

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

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

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

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

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

Senda: How did you get involved with Beach Soccer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yuri FIFA Photo

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! 

Lessons from Bangladesh: Building a Brighter Future for Workers

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

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

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

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

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Learning how our soccer ball panels are screen printed.

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

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

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

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

Skillz and Drillz Video of the Month: The Cruyff Turn

 

Our monthly video from Skillz and Drillz is showing a classic and elegant beginner basics move: “The Cruyff Turn.”

This trick is a great way to get away from an opponent or simply just faking a cross by pulling the ball back in a different direction to get space for a better position to pass the ball, or simply a better alternative action to take place.

By doing a Cruyff turn you are  misleading the opponent and making him change his choice of action in which it most likely will be a delay from your action, ultimately leaving you with more space and time.

Take a look at this video showing step by step instructions and try to see if you can manage to do what Cruyff first did during the FIFA World Cup in 1974.

Impress your friends, coaches, opponents and yourself.

And don’t forget to visit Skillz and Drillz to stay tuned on his videos and updates!

 

 

See Cruyff doing the move himself: