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

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 Footballing Guide for Tourists

Brazil is undoubtedly soccer’s spiritual and cultural heart. And with World Cup 2014 coming to Rio this summer, that footballing heart will only beat louder. Soccer, which is locally referred to as futebol, is central to Brazilian life. And within Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the place for total soccer immersion. I went down to Copacabana, the birthplace of Beach Soccer (futebol na praia), where goals litter the iconic beach.

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Carioças, the nickname for Rio natives, are passionate about futebol.  To get their fix, many wake up at the crack of dawn and head down to the beach to attend fitness programs that emphasize beach soccer.  One morning, I woke up early and set out for Copacabana to observe and get coaching ideas and training tips. If you pay a small fee (and are able to wake up early enough!), you could probably join the programs and play.

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As the sand gets extremely hot under the midday sun, you will not usually see people playing during the day.  The one exception to this rule is when it is overcast.  When cloud cover cools the sand down to a tolerable temperature, more teams train during the day.  Unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunately), gloomy days in Rio are exceedingly rare.  So rare in fact, that Brazilians don’t seem to know how to react to rain.  During stormy weather, it appears that everyone forgets how to drive.  I’ve suffered through the most horrendous storm-induced traffic jams while in Brazil!

In addition to futebol, many groups of Carioças practice futevolley in the early evening. Kids in uniforms dominate the best fields because their clubs pay to reserve the space. Sometimes I have seen adults training on the beach as well. These are the members of the organized workout groups that I mentioned earlier.

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Now, I hope that I have not given you the wrong impression about Rio beach soccer culture.  Although the organized groups that I mentioned above require membership fees to play, there are plenty of opportunities for free pickup games for tourists!

Hate playing in the sand?  There is only one place to go in the South Zone of Rio to play on (synthetic) grass: Complexo Aterro.

I went down to Complexo Aterro in search of pickup games.  When I arrived, there was a group of guys from the local neighborhood.  They meet at the Aterro complexo de futebol (link above) before 8:45 on Saturday mornings.  One guy, almost like a coach, but more like an organizer, wrote my name down on a list. It is first come, first served and seniority is also a factor if there are lots of people in attendance. Usually, gringos are substitutes.  7v7 or 8v8 games end when 10 goals are scored, which usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

Guys pay about $10/month and get a red and blue uniform.  For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, no one ever has a ball except the organizer. The guys that pay the monthly fee get priority over people who don’t.  As native Brazilians are chosen first, you will probably be a substitute unless there are no locals around. When it is overcast, there are not too many people in attendance.  But if it is sunny and hot, tons of people show up.  The heat makes playing much more exhausting on the AstroTurf and so multiple substitutions are required.

The game starts at around 9:00 Brazilian time. When the first team scores the 5th goal, it is halftime and it’s time for some liquid refreshment.  There is a nice man who is always around selling water.  He sells on credit so you can pay him later and don’t have to fumble for your wallet during the game.

As I said before, the first team to 10 goals wins. But when it is scorchingly hot, the game sometimes will end after only 8 goals.  This ensures that none of the players keel over from dehydration and heat stroke.  If there are lots of people sometimes 7v7 becomes 8v8 or 9v9 with subs, depending on the number of available players. The larger games only increase the amount of bickering and complaining that occurs between players.

When you sub off, your day is done!  The substitutes can enter either team, red or blue.  A sweaty jersey and shorts may be offered to you, but I wouldn’t suggest wearing them unless you like bathing in another person’s sweat!  I bring my own clothing so I can keep my sweat to myself.

I hope that I have given you a useful introduction to pickup soccer in Rio.  If watching the best footballers in the world compete at the World Cup in Rio doesn’t inspire you to get out there and play some pickup, then I don’t think anything will! While the location and rules may change, the love for soccer is universal.  I’m sure that with a little effort, you’ll be able to fulfill your dream of playing soccer in its spiritual birthplace.

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Good luck and play hard!

Story from Casey Grady

Edited by Evan Hofberg

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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Senda Ambassador “Tony Salciccia:” From College Soccer Star, to going Pro

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

Ball Testing with SJ Quakes Players: Senda Volta, Nike Seitiro, Adidas Prime

The Senda Volta, Nike Seitiro & Adidas MLS Prime

A goal that we always have at Senda, is to offer products that are as good as any other similar options in the market, with the added value of Fair Trade, and the opportunity for customers to Share the Game with others.

In order to ensure that, we work with hundreds of coaches and players to test our products, and get feedback. Recently, we had the great opportunity to do product testing with Sam Cronin, who is the starting Center Midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as Quakes trialist Josh Suggs, and former CAL Captain Tony Salciccia. During a beautiful South Bay afternoon we tested our top of the line Senda Volta, along with the Nike Seitiro, and the Adidas Prime Match balls. Our goal was to check where our Volta Premier Match ball stands , compared to the two most popular brands with the best leagues in the World.

For testing, we looked at 3 main indicators: performance during crossings, performance during shots, and finally overall touch and feel of the ball.

 

Test 1: Crossings

When making a series of long distance crosses for Sam, Josh and Tony enjoyed the responsiveness and precision of the Volta, which surpassed that of the Adidas Prime, and matched that of the Nike Seitero. In terms of long crossings, the Volta flies well in the air and it does not “shake,” like the Adidas ball does.

The Adidas Prime uses the same thermo-bonded technology as the Jabulani (official match ball for 2010 South Africa World Cup) which was a nightmare for most goalies because it moves a lot when it flies long distances, for examples in in crosses and free kicks. The Prime improved in this aspect, but it still curves in rather unpredictable ways, unlike the Volta and Seitiro models.

” The Volta ball was easier to get used to, and to strike in the air” Josh Suggs, San Jose Earthquakes trialist

Test 2: Shots

When it comes to striking the ball, the Volta felt a little bit harder than the Seitiro and Prime. Players said that this did not mean that it was more difficult or uncomfortable, just a ball characteristic that you notice after using all three balls. The harder outer surface can benefit players with strong shots when they strike the ball, offering more immediate power. Some players who don’t like harder balls might not like this aspect, and this comes down to personal preference.

The Adidas Prime is the ball that travels the most out of the three, but it can be quiet inaccurate because it gets more power only if a player strikes the ball “just right.”  That it is not always easy after winning  a 50/50 ball, hitting a ball at high speed, or in other game scenarios, and players preferred a ball that offered consistency in different scenarios, and not just clean shots.

Finishing session, using the Volta, Seitiro and Prime

Test 3: Touch

In terms of touch the Senda Volta is little bit harder than the Seitero and Prime, both which have a “spongy” feeling. The top-of-the-line Japanese synthetic leather used in the Volta resembles more the older Match balls used in the late 90′s, compared to the newer synthetic materials developed by Nike and Adidas.

When we asked for a fair final assessment, Suggs said that he honestly enjoyed playing with the Senda Volta the most.

 

“With a  lot of balls, it takes a long time to get used to them,” Suggs commented. “With the Volta one gets to know the ball rather fast, and it provides a consistent response in different game-like scenarios”

Although it was the first time that all 3 players where introduced to the Volta, they did not feel any inconsistencias with the ball, and they felt that it was up there with the Nike Seitero, and above the Adidas Prime when it came to overall touch, shooting, and making/receiving crosses.

 

From our end, after talking with Sam, Tony and Josh, and asking for their honest feedback, we feel that we have succeeded in making a top of the line ball that’s as good, if not better, than that of the two market leaders in soccer. That makes us proud. Very proud!

Meanwhile, we will continue to research the latest cover materials available for different types of match balls, to make sure that Senda is taking advantage of the latest technologies available to make the best performing product.

But whatever new materials are developed using technology, they have to be tested and approved on the field, where the magic happens. Technology, for technology’s sake is not the answer. The final word should come from players and coaches on the fields, and not just from the labs. Right now, it seems like we are in good hands with a Volta Match ball, that has some of the traditional characteristics one finds in Japanese cordley leather, which is one of the best on the World.

The story to make the best posible Match ball leveraging technology and embracing Fair Trade continues, and we will keep you posted!

Sam Cronin helped us test the 3 balls for precision, touch, and flight

Senda in Brazil



“O conhecimento do Brasil passa pelo futebol.”

Translation: “One’s knowledge of Brazil happens through football.”

-Jose Lins do Rego

At Senda, one of the things we enjoyed the most is to hear stories of how our soccer balls travel to far away places, and used in different locations we never really imagined. We love hearing from customers who end up becoming Senda Ambassadors, and share their passion for what we do, as well as their Senda balls, in places like Japan, Norway, Argentina, Morocco, Alaska, and South Africa. They often times send us their reflections on the trip, and we want to share the latest one, from our latest ambassador in Brazil: Juliano. Here is the story he shared with us, and our readers:

My experience with soccer culture in Brazil has expanded my outlook on the diverse nature of the sport. I grew up in the United States, but I am half Brazilian, and I’ve been to Brazil several times to visit family. Though I have spent a significant amount of time in Brazil, every trip is a cultural experience for me. I spent three weeks there, in December and January, visiting family and enjoying the coast of São Paulo. During this time, I played lots of pickup soccer, and visited O Museu do Futebol (The Museum of Football) at Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo.

The first time I played pickup soccer after arriving in Brazil was at a cement futsal court near my grandparent’s house. I arrived to the court just as a new team was taking the pitch. Curious and eager to play, I asked if they had a spot for one more to join them. The response I got was, “Demorou,” which best translates to “I thought you’d never ask,” or “You should have asked earlier.” It’s basically a politely aggressive way of saying “Of course” and welcoming me into their pickup game. The group was made up of a mix of some younger guys in their twenties, and some middle aged guys. To be honest, I expected the level to be low. I was wrong. These guys weren’t there to mess around. The intensity and passion by which they played was invigorating. It felt like the game was do or die; players protected the goal like their life depended on it, and every missed opportunity was a dagger to the heart. Yet by the same token, they had a certain light heartedness that made it clear that this was a pelada.

Pelada is the Brazilian name for pickup game, and it literally means “naked.” I don’t think there is a more perfect name for it. Pickup games literally strip the sport down to its core. People play out of pure enjoyment and passion for the game without all the business and money behind most sports today. In Brazil, peladas are more than a game. It is a culture unified by the sport of soccer, and a country that boasts the most international success in the history of the sport. The guys I played with were fanatics who had grown up with the sport. Their understanding of the game was developed through years of exposure. These guys were neither the most athletic guys, nor the most skilled, but they had a knack for the game. Playing in their pelada was a great way to discern how soccer is so engrained in Brazilian culture.

Another memorable experience from my trip to Brazil was my visit to the Museu do Futebol. An idea of Pelé, the museum was created as homage to the strong history of football within the country. It is located inside the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, a public stadium where many of the biggest teams in Brazil play. I expected a small museum with a couple small exhibits, but found it to be a complete experience and more. I took two hours on the tour, but felt like I could’ve spent the entire day there. There were entire sections devoted to old soccer photos, Brazilian superstars and heroes, multimedia sections with radio and television clips, world cups, records, the evolution of soccer equipment and rules, referees, fans, and much more. Frankly I overwhelmed because there was so much soccer left and right. The incredible thing is that the exhibit was primarily about Brazilian soccer, with only contextual references the rest of the world. It is amazing that the sport has so much history in Brazil.

 

Playing soccer in Brazil has not only widened my worldviews, but also given me a unique look at the game itself. I believe that soccer is something universal enough to connect people throughout the world, and it also provides a special lens through which we can learn a lot about a culture.

I was introduced to Senda at a small-sided soccer tournament in Berkeley, California, and I was immediately drawn to the company. I am an avid soccer player and fan. I think that the Fair Trade model is something to admire in any business, especially in a worldwide market like soccer. Brazil is a prime example of a culture with a love and passion for the game that also faces problems of poverty and extreme inequality. Senda promotes a higher standard for soccer products, and encourages the society and sport to be just at all levels. Fair trade is an opportunity for people to take responsibility and make positive change through a medium that can be universally understood.

Skillz and Drillz Video of the Month: The Zidane ‘Pull Back Flick’

 

 

 

We are starting a monthly showcase of a videos, covering in detail different types of soccer movements from our partner SkillzAndDrillz, which has close to 225.000 views at YouTube.

This is a great way for players of all ages to learn new cool and useful skills, and impress their friends, coaches and not at least their opponents on the field with.
The videos have fantastic step-by-step instructions making it easy and visual for viewers to learn.

We hope you will enjoy our monthly SkillzAndDrillz video, starting with none less than one of the best players in the history, Zinedine Zidane’s “Pull Back Flick”

Visit Skillz and Drillz and stay tuned for his videos and updates! 

This month’s video:

Senda Balls arrives at “Made By Hand, ” in Bethany Beach Delaware

Made By Hand is a store in Bethany Beach Delaware which sells all kinds of Fair Trade items,  and in October of 2012 it started selling Senda Balls! Check out this guest post by Made By Hand’s co-owner, Kimberly, who owns the store with her husband Marco.

I’m an anthropologist who has worked in development for decades, and my husband and I’s greatest desire in life is to see an end to poverty. After I worked with many different projects around the world, I was not being satisfied with the results, especially considering all the money spent (i.e. like with USAID, etc.).
I was curious about the Fair Trade model (this is in the early 1990s when Fair Trade was called Alternative Trade). Marco and I walked into a Pueblo to People store in Houston (Marco, a Latin America folk musician, was looking for zampoñas and someone recommended this shop), and we read that the artisans were getting paid and treated fairly.
I was writing a book on migration at the time, so while doing research, we decided to visit some villages in Guatemala where the women sold handicrafts to Fair Trade marketers. The results were impressive to say the least: kids didn’t have swollen bellies from malnutrition, but rather had on school uniforms; women had respect and hope for the future.
Marco and I knew we had to get involved in this movement directly. We went to several NAATO conferences (North American Alternative Trade Organization) and helped form the Fair Trade Federation from which the new term Fair Trade was born. Marco and I analyzed what was needed most in Fair Trade and the answer was obvious, more 100% Fair Trade retail outlets, so in 1996 we opened Made By Hand.
Seventeen years later, Made By Hand has grown tremendously. We work with artisans in 36 countries. We visit producers each year and have been able to give small grants from money leftover after we pay our bills to different groups helping with infrastructural needs. We also give every year to SERRV‘s development program for artisans. Myself and several others created the Fair Trade Resource Network, a non-profit educational organization, because back in the 1990s not many people knew about Fair Trade and we knew we needed an organization  to get the word out.
Most of all, Marco and I feel we are the ones who are blessed by working in Fair Trade. People say, “Oh, how great to help people.” No, it’s really the other way around. We get to go to work everyday knowing that what we do is making the world a better place. How lucky we are! And since we love to travel we can step off a plane in any country and have friends there — we may not have met each other yet, but we are already united by our mutual respect and love for each other.

Coach Profile: Tim Newsome, IMPACT

Tim, showing us how’s it done.

Check out the latest coach profile on Tim Newsome. Not only does he coach soccer and futsal all over the Bay Area, but he can teach you in the privacy of your own living room (or backyard) through his YouTube Channel. Visit Skillz and Drillz and stay tuned for his videos and updates!

  • What is your youth background in terms of soccer (or football as you tend to say across the pond)?

    I Grew up in England and Football was the sport (and still is) that everyone played. I played all through school and gained my coaching licenses in the UK before having an opportunity to come the US and coach.

  • When and how did you get involved in coaching in the United States?

    During my second year at college in the UK, I saw a flyer on the student board from the MLS. It was asking for English coaches to come out and coach summer camps through the MLS organization in many cities across America. Scraping together some ‘flight’ money, I managed to get over that summer for 3 months. I coached in the Bay Area my entire stay. After this, I went back home and graduated college in my final year. I was lucky enough to get a call from a contact here in the US. They had asked me if I want to come back out but on a full time basis. Before the phone was down, I was packing my bags ready to come out again. From going back to the UK to obtain my Masters degree in 2008 reading Sports Management and the Business of Football, I have pretty much resided here here the South Bay Area since. I love it here!

  • How and why did you start making YouTube videos?

    Living in Silicon Valley (the Bay Area) for the past several years has really opened up the tech side of me.  My passion for reading and understanding technology from this area really inspired me to have a go at doing something myself. I thought, what could i do that involves my soccer knowledge and tech hobby? From there it was simple.
    I wanted to share my soccer knowledge to a wider audience and the only way to really do that is via the internet. With my creative thinking, I literally grabbed a camera and went out there and made my first video, “the backwards scissors”. I knew I could record things but it was the editing and putting together that I needed to be creative with. From here my video’s have grown and we now have our iOS app. There is still so much more to come and we haven’t reached our first birthday yet!

  • What is your most memorable coaching moment?

    When I was studying for my Masters degree in 2008, I got the opportunity to coach in Zambia, Africa for 3 weeks. I jumped at the chance. We helped out at a local school where kids would walk 5+ miles a day just to attend. We coached soccer to the kids in an effort to increase the awareness of HIV/AIDS to enable the children to live safe and healthy lives.

    Towards the end of my stay, we decided to treat all the kids to a bottle of coca-cola. This was a rare thing for them and some and never had it before. One boy came up to me and asked for the money, instead of the drink. I was hesitant at first because it can be dangerous kids having money on the streets due to the crimes in the villages. However, I said sure and he took the money from my hand and walked next door. I followed him to see where he was going and I found him picking out some rice to buy to take home and feed his parents and siblings. That moment never leaves me and is the most memorable.

  • Who is your favorite soccer player of all time?

    As a soccer coach, I sleep, eat and drink soccer. There are many good players that I have witnessed then and still playing now. If I had to choose a player that I was fond of whilst growing up it would Zinedine Zidane!

  • Why does Fair Trade matter to you?

    Fair Trade is important to me as I think it’s only right the workers who make products such as soccer balls get paid and treated the same. If we as consumers are going to reap the benefits of such quality goods, it’s only right to have the workers receive fair benefits for their hard work. In addition, I also like sharing the Senda story with the teams I coach and how important Fair Trade is.

One of Tim Newsome’s great videos:

Senda, Available at the Historic Sunset Soccer Supply (Bay Area)

We are proud to announce that Senda soccer products are available at a historic Bay Area store: Sunset Soccer!

As soon as word got out in the Bay that a new Fair Trade soccer company (SENDA) was launching in Berkeley back in 2010, we received a message from  Sunset Soccer, which said that they wanted to test out and carry our products at their store. What a great moment for Senda!

More than just a soccer store, Sunset Soccer both looks and feels like a museum! The store opened its doors in 1981 as the first soccer specialty store in San Francisco. Their two stores now carry almost all of Senda’s ball collection, including the Valor Training series, the Apex Match series, and the Rio Futsal.

So next time you are in San Francisco or San Rafael, and want to check out some of Senda’s best selling Fair Trade soccer balls, stop by to see them!  Sunset Soccer’s two stores are still run by Toby and Libby Rappolt, two coaches that have contributed an enormous amount to the Bay Area soccer community. When you don’t find them in their store, you’ll see them out at the fields coaching or promoting the game in their community.

Because their store is a place for all kinds of soccer aficionados, on the weekends you’ll find Sunset filled with people who have dropped by to talk about soccer, check out the latest soccer gear, or to watch one of the soccer matches playing on their TVs.

We are extremely proud to have Senda’s soccer balls available at Sunset Soccer, and we hope our Bay Area fans will stop by Sunset Soccer to check them out!