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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.

Mike’s Impressions from the Muchnick Tournament

Todd Dunivant (LA Galaxy) at the Muchnick Tournament

This is a guest post from our Director of Business Development and Marketing, Mike, who attended the Muchnick Tournament (you can read the first post here). He explains some of his impressions of the tournament:

Hi blog world! As an official sponsor of the Adam Muchnick International Soccer Camp, Senda sent me back to my hometown of Newport Beach, CA. I got to help activate the Senda brand, as well as be an extra set of hands for the camp directors. I also had the help of my “trusty steed,” my brother Brian, who plays outside back for UC Davis.

Aside from the flash of meeting some of the best soccer players in the world, I really enjoyed getting to know Todd Dunivant and Gwendolyn Oxenham. Dunivant is the starting outside back for the LA Galaxy and the MLS 11 team. He spoke with the campers and participated in a Q&A (most questions were about his famous teammates Landon Donovan and David Beckham). He also talked at length with Brian about coming up through the ranks and despite being under-appreciated (he has never been selected to the U.S. National team), he remained optimistic. His positivity really impressed me.

Todd Dunivant (LA Galaxy) and Brian

Oxenham is the star of the independent film Pelada. It is a very cool movie/documentary that follows Gwendolyn and her now husband Luke as they play pick up soccer games (pelada in Portuguese) around the world. Brian and I were lucky enough to play in a pick up game with her which was a very cool experience. She recently released the book she was writing while shooting the film, and she continues to play in peladas every week.

In general, it was a very fun week where we got to meet many fascinating people, help the local and international community, and gain some exposure for Senda! I am already looking forward to next year!

Senda Sees International Players at SoCal Tournament

Brian & Mike (Senda) with Steven Ireland (Aston Villa), Victor Anichebe (Everton), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Queens Park Rangers), Zat Knight (Bolton Wanderers), & Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

Senda sponsored the Adam Muchnick International Soccer Camp held a few weeks ago in Newport Beach, CA. For four days, children between the ages of 5-16 got to play their favorite sport– and interact with some famous players. Senda was also able to get up close and personal with a variety of English Premier League and Championship stars including Shaun Wright-Phillips (Queens Park Rangers), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Steven Ireland (Aston Villa), Zat Night (Bolton), Victor Anichebe (Everton),  and Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest). The camp gave a portion of its proceeds to the Children’s Foundation in Guatemala, where Shaun Wright-Phillips has been an ambassador since 2007.

The camp organizer, Adam Muchnick, is a former lawyer turned professional soccer agent. Many of the coaches at the tournament were either professional players, club coaches, or scouts.

Senda was represented at the tournament by Director of Business Development and Marketing Mike, and his brother, Brian. Mike explained his experience at the tournament, “All of the players were really nice. They were well-spoken and seemed to genuinely care about giving back to the community.  They even kicked around a Senda Valor with some of the campers, and many of them respected the Fair Trade aspect. Shaun Wright-Phillips even came up to me and said ‘Best of luck with the new company.  I hope it works out.’”

Some of Mike’s highlights during the tournament include Zat Knight being in denial of how tall he really is, Ashley Cole missing a penalty kick, the players unanimously agreeing that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world, and Shaun Wright-Phillips talking about overcoming adversity to succeed. Numerous scouts passed on him because he was short, but he did not let that stop him.

This was the first year that Muchnick hosted the tournament. Due to its success, another camp next year is likely. Senda hopes to be there once again!

Ashley Cole (Chelsea) with Mike and Brian

Victor Anichebe (Everton) with Mike & Brian

Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest), Victor Anichebe (Evertone), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Queens Park Rangers), Zat Knight (Bolton Wanderers), & Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

Zat Knight (Bolton Wanderers) with Mike

 

Senda Makes the Official Ball for the Street Soccer USA National Cup

We’re more than happy to announce that Senda has made the official ball for Street Soccer USA’s 2012 NYC Cup. 25 specially-designed versions of the Rio Futsal will make the journey to New York City, and each Street Soccer USA City will go back home with one of them (you can purchase your own mini-ball version at the Cup where a portion of the proceeds goes back to Street Soccer USA).

Street Soccer USA teaches homeless people life skills through sport, and last year’s Cup, held in Washington, D.C. was a major success. More than 200 players and coaches participated. Most of them were homeless and former participants in Street Soccer USA. A lot of them went to D.C. as coaches, players, or supporters.

For Street Soccer USA tournaments, sportsmanship counts for a lot. Last year’s Cup introduced the use of green cards. When teams were even on points after group play, the green cards served as the tie-breaker. Handed out by referees after a match, they are awarded to players that show positive sportsmanship during a game.

This year, the Cup will be bigger than ever, with the final games being played at Times Square. Teams will be co-ed, and will come together from all over the nation to play soccer and fight against homelessness.

Sign up here to get involved in either of these three ways:

  • PLAY - Sign your team up to play in either the Open Cup or the Corporate Cup.
  • VOLUNTEER - Sign up to help out with NYC Cup weekend activities.
  • SPONSOR -  Make a donation to help support Street Soccer USA players and teams.

OR if you’re in the New York City area, come out and support the nation’s premier sport for social change event by cheering on:

July 26-27, 8am-8pm at Broome and Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side

July 29, 8am-4pm at Times Square 46th Street Plaza

Click here to read more about Senda’s partnership with the Bay Area branch of Street Soccer USA.

Read our previous blog post with Street Soccer USA coach, Antoine Lagarde, here.

 

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

Coach Daniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HappyFeet Iowa's newest bobcat.

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

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

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

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

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

Coach Sara

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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