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Senda Ambassadors: Juliano in Brazil, doing pro tryouts with Portuguesa

 

At Senda, one of the things we enjoyed the most is to hear stories from Senda Ambassadors, and share their passion for the beautiful game, Fair Trade, and suing soccer as a vehicle for change. 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:

” After graduating from Vassar College in the spring, I took a flight to Brazil to pursue my dream of playing professional soccer. The past few months have been a humbling experience, and I’ve learned so much about the world of soccer. I spent two months training with Portuguesa, a second division club in Brazil. The club has a rich history, starting with the Portuguese who founded the club many years ago. They’ve grown to be one of the biggest, most well known clubs in São Paulo, with a strong reputation for developing young players. I could write extensively about my experiences at Portuguesa, but there’s one humbling experience that stands out in my mind: the bus rides to training. Each morning we met at the club’s headquarters at 7:30 AM to get changed and take a bus to the training fields. The drive to the fields takes about 25 minutes, but the last five minutes were always the most important to me.

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The bus followed a road we take to train that has a clear view of favelas, Brazilian shanty towns.

The scenery was a daily reminder that the privileged world many of us live in isn’t the reality for millions of people; it was a reminder that poverty is real. Perhaps most remarkable was the paintings and decorations of Brazil’s colors on the streets left over from the World Cup. While the people of the favelas might be living in a lower social class, their love for the beautiful game of soccer is as vehement as mine. Once again I was able to understand the true power of soccer to bring together an entire nation. As a long time supporter of Senda, I told my teammates at Portuguesa about Senda’s mission.

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Senda Ambassador Juliano, on the left, shares the senda story and limited edition t-shirt with a Portuguesa teammate.

I explained to them the idea of fair trade, ‘comerço justo’ in Portuguese, an idea that isn’t well known as a commercial concept in Brazil. They reacted in overwhelming support. One of them told me, “Soccer in Brazil is a nasty business, constantly exploiting people. I support any movement to stop the exploitation and money mongering that exists in the soccer world today.” After Brazil’s heartbreaking 7-1 World Cup loss at home to Germany, the main dialogue has been a discussion about reshaping the Brazilian soccer system. The goals are to develop players for domestic play, and keeping and circulating money and resources through the Brazilian system, rather than shipping it off to Europe.

 

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My time spent as part of the soccer world here in Brazil has been an incredible insight into the world of soccer outside the U.S.A. The rich culture of soccer has so much influence on people’s lives, and Senda allows us the opportunity to explore that mechanism, to change people’s lives for the better. I am currently still in Brazil, looking for opportunities to play professionally.”

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Raymond

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

In the fourth edition of our Staff Profile, we sat down with Raymond, our Operations Intern.

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Raymond — With the World Cup only happening every four years, it is really something spectacular. It is something completely different from just watching soccer clubs play against each other because you now have entire countries backing their team and supporting them. The sense of pride from everyone during the World Cup makes the game that much more dramatic and exciting. Soccer is able to unite people not only from the same country, but also from different ones. People from a diverse set of countries may come to appreciate the collective play of the Dutch or the passion of the Italians and support them without any concrete nationalistic ties. Fans of all nations can sympathize with each other because they know the feeling of their team winning or losing.

As I spent my first 18 years in New Zealand and China – neither of which usually qualify for the tournament – I often end up supporting a different team altogether at the World Cup. For this edition in Brazil, I chose Germany because of how fluidly and efficiently they play. The players had fantastic chemistry with each other. It was exciting to watch. They were like the San Antonio Spurs of soccer — each player stuck to his role for the benefit of the team.

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Jeong

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

In this installment of our Staff Profile, we sat down with Jeong, our Director of Operations. He is a native of South Korea and a lifelong soccer supporter.

 

Jeong Staff Profile

Jeong — Of course, I support South Korea in international competitions. Even though the team didn’t play well this World Cup, they still represented the country honorably and played with integrity and grit.

I started following the World Cup in 1994 when it was held in the USA. The South Korean team was in a group with Spain, Bolivia, and Germany. They played very well and got the entire country excited about the World Cup and soccer in general. Despite their good performances, they didn’t make it through the first round. That didn’t matter too much though, because the game had already taken hold of the country’s imagination. The popularity of soccer in Korea skyrocketed after that year’s tournament. Since the World Cup in 1994, I have been following soccer and the World Cup very closely.

In 2002, the World Cup was held in South Korea and gave me many experiences and memories which I still cherish to this day. South Korea finished fourth in that tournament (admittedly with some questionable officiating decisions).

The only thing I enjoy more than being a soccer spectator is being a soccer player. I play 2 to 3 times per week. I have been able to make a lot of friends through soccer and it is one of the best ways for me to relieve my stress.

My love of sports, especially soccer, made it easy for me to decide to move to California to study Sport Management. And when the opportunity to work at Senda arose, I did not hesitate. Working at Senda allows me to use my love of soccer for the benefit of others.

Senda Staff Profiles: What the World Cup Means to Aliénor

Throughout this summer we’ve been bringing you an inside look at the World Cup from the perspective of local Brazilians. They have offered their views on soccer and daily life in Brazil, revealing deep insights into the national obsession with futebol.

But now, it’s time to hear from us! We thought we’d turn our focus inward and take a look at what our own employees here at Senda think of the World Cup. Even though the tournament is over (*sigh*), it’s never too late to discuss the Cup! We will be profiling our staff members and asking for their opinions about the world’s most beautiful game.

To start off our Staff Profile, we talked to Aliénor, our Outreach & Community Manager who hails from France.

Aliénor — The World Cup has been a great time and brought many good memories to our Senda offices. It has been very exciting for us to watch the games and expose our supporters to the local Brazilian perspectives. Whenever a game was on, we’d always have one eye on our work and the other on the scoreline. We didn’t let it harm our productivity…(not too much, anyway!)

Even though I’m French, I’m glad that Germany made it to the final. Not just because of their great team spirit and collective play, but also because I predicted them in my World Cup bracket to make the finals! And as they beat France earlier in the tournament, Germany winning makes France look stronger.

It’s a shame that the Brazilians had to get knocked out of the tournament like that. The festa in Brazil would’ve been a lot more enjoyable, but oh well, it was not meant to be. If this loss inspires Brazilians to continue to speak out against the government and fight for better infrastructure and social services, then perhaps it will be worth it in the end.

 

 

#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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Senda Athletics’ Founder on BBC World News story

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Check out the BBC World News story that was published today about Senda Athletics’s founder Santiago.

Besides talking about his dreams of attending a World Cup since being a child, he was able to share Senda’s story and its vision to change the #Futbol industry!

Take a look and help us spread the word!

Pro-am Beach Soccer Santa Cruz

This past weekend marked the 10th annual Santa Cruz Beach Soccer Open presented by Senda Athletics. We set up our tent by the check-in and results booths and marked out the area for our juggling competition.  The juggling competition produced some great scores despite most players struggling to juggle barefoot in the sand. Even those players who said they are capable of successfully completing as many as 1000 juggles on grass with cleats found it difficult to reach a century of juggles in the sand. The record-holder using the mini-ball completed 156 juggles, the Size 5 champion reached 300 juggles, and someone managed to keep the giant 3 foot ball in the air for 17 touches!!

This year’s tournament included over 170 teams, topping last year’s total thanks in large part due to the addition of the micro division for six and seven year-olds. There were many champions from last year that returned to defend their titles and countless teams new to the competition that were looking for their first taste of victory!

Thanks to all of those who came out to the Pro-am this year. And to those who missed out, don’t worry because there’s always next year! Our next Beach Soccer Pro-am promises to be another great day of soccer, friends, and fun. Join us!

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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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