Senda: The Beginning of a (Soccer) Dream

After two years of hard work, sweat, and of working with amazing people from all over the world, I am excited to say we are officially ready to ship Senda Athletics Fair Trade Soccer balls.

Our brand new website is up and running, and we can take orders on-line, by email, fax, twitter and even in person! Getting here has been a fantastic adventure, and this is only the beginning!

I would love to share some parts of this adventure with you.

I have played team sports almost as far back as I can remember, and had many experiences that taught me much more than the importance of exercising and team work. For me, they were a way to spend time with friends, a path to self-confidence and the means to learn discipline. It is from that foundation that Senda –which means “path” in Spanish – grew.

During middle school in Argentina, where I grew up, I became aware that there were many young people in my city who didn’t have the same opportunities I did to play sports, and make friends by spending hours on a soccer field. I also realized they did not have an opportunity to get an education. I quickly felt that I wanted to be able to change that.

While traveling in Latin America, Europe, and North Africa during my college years (at UC San Diego), I saw firsthand the universality of soccer and its power to bring people together. Soccer was king not only in Argentina, but around the world. Fair Trade also became a passion, and I realized that the way we buy every day products can transform the lives of workers around the World.

After I graduated in May 2009, I decided I was passionate (and crazy) enough to start a fair trade athletic company that would support grassroots projects using soccer as a tool to change their communities.

I went back to Argentina and discovered some really good organizations that were using soccer to improve the lives of young people, and to promote education. One of those organizations was Defensores del Chaco, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. After visiting Defensores’ club, and meeting with the staff, coaches and players, it was evident that I had found Senda’s first partner organization.

In October of 2009, I moved to Berkeley, California, where I found out about Soccer Without Borders. After meeting with SWB’s founder Ben Gucciardi, and hearing about the vision for his program in Oakland, I realized I had found Senda’s second partner.

Following a business plan competition at UC Berkeley in 2010, reaching the semi-finals along with an impressive team, it was time to actually build a company. I have to say it has been a lot harder than I ever believed it would be…

What makes it all worth it are all the passionate and selfless people I have met along the way. Getting to know the coaches and young players from SWB and Defensores, playing soccer with them, and trying to become a part of their community has been incredible.

I owe a lot to Defensores and SWB, who have worked with me tirelessly to help build Senda’s vision, and most importantly a path to reach that vision.

At Senda, we promise that we will work to make the best soccer balls and equipment for players of all levels, and to ensure that everyone that makes a Senda product is treated fairly. We believe that people who make the soccer equipment that allows us to enjoy the “Beautiful Game” should be happy too.

I know that with the soccer community, we will be able to fulfill that vision.

Please join us,

santiago


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