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#BeyondtheCup: Brazilians Share their Thoughts on the World Cup

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

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

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Lara, speaks her mind on the World Cup

 

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

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Railson, giving us his take on the Cup

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

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Kaze, sharing his view on the World Cup

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

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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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 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.

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!

 

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