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Playing With the Locals: Can Soccer help you Travel More Sustainably?

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. 

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

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!

 

Senda, All the Way in Japan

Selina at Joutokuji temple, located in Kyoto City.

Did you have fun watching the Women’s Football Final at the 2012 Olympics between USA and Japan?
In this guest post by Selina, she tells some differences between American and Japanese soccer during her stay in Japan, as well why fair trade matters to her.
Moving from Japan to the US to play collegiate soccer was definitely a big transition, but my teammates and coaches made it easy and enjoyable. I love the fact that people at HNU create an extremely warm and casual atmosphere, but are serious when they need to be. What I struggled the most with on the field was the high level of physicality, especially because I grew up in a country where players rely mainly on ball technique. I was also exposed to a different coaching philosophy; most Japanese coaches use negative coaching, criticizing their players to motivate them while most American coaches use positive coaching, praising and encouraging their players. In many ways, soccer helped me perceive the fundamental differences in cultural principles between Japan and the U.S. – it definitely expanded my mind as a player and a person.
I first heard about Senda from my current head coach, but it wasn’t until we used their soccer balls in our training that I got to know about the background of the product. I think fair trade is important because it helps to resolve issues concerning unethical treatment of impoverished producers. It puts people before profit; humanity before greed. I think fair trade has huge potential for positive change in the world.
From Japan, Selina

Selina at the rice fields in Otsu city, where she grew up.

Join Our Campaign for Film on Fair Trade in Soccer!

Senda is creating a documentary, “Senda: Soccer’s Path to Fair Trade” to show people the real impact of purchasing a fair trade soccer ball. The film will cover how Santiago started Senda, his recent trip to Pakistan to visit Senda’s factory, and Senda’s non-profit partners.

To make this film possible, we need your help! Senda is raising funds on Indiegogo, where you can pledge any amount for some great perks. We know that not everyone can pledge, but you can also lend us your support through spreading the word ANYONE about the campaign.

Various websites have already helped us spread the word, including Soccer Cleats 101, Triple Pundit, and Designed Good. Help us share the positive impact that fair trade has on the world!

More from the Muchnick Tournament

Read more about Senda meeting some of England’s best soccer players at the Adam Muchnick Soccer Camp at Newport Beach, CA. This is the final part. View the first post [+] | View the second post [+]

Check out the special guest who showed up at the Adam Muchnick International Soccer Camp! Former Chelsea and current Shanghai Shenhua forward Didier Drogba (above) played with a Senda Rapido Premier Ball. It also comes in a Mini Ball version!

Also, watch the video below to see professional players from England, such as Shaun Wright-Phillips (Queens Park Rangers), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Zat Knight (Bolton Wanderers), and Victor Anichebe (Everton), playing with a Senda Valor Training Ball.

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

 

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