Last December I took a month-long journey back to my home country of Argentina in order to share the essence of soccer with Senda’s fans through our Futbol is Art campaign.
I had the chance to play pick-up soccer with our friends from Jogabo (the awesome app for players to track their stats and games), while at the same time making new friends as I visited the local neighborhood soccer pitch in La Boca, with my two cousins Francisco and Felipe.
It was a powerful reminder of how something as simple as a soccer ball can help people form an immediate connection. Felipe, like myself is a huge River Plate fan, and the fact that he was willing to spend an entire afternoon in La Boca surrounded with Boca Juniors fans, and help us with our videos and photos was wonderful to see! It revealed the extent to which he loves the unifying message of Senda, and the day turned into an eye-opening experience for him. In a country where rivalries run so deep, sometimes for the worse, he put himself in a situation in which he was entirely unfamiliar. It was fun to play with him, and was a heartening experience for all of us to see that our common love for the game is stronger than any rivalries.
later that week, I was able to meet 2 legendary players from local powerhouse Racing Club de Avellaneda: Francisco Maciel and Martin Vitali. I did this while watching them play FootGolf near Buenos Aires for a TV show called This is Footgolf, which uses Senda balls for their challenges with local soccer players. Both players helped the Racing Club, which prior their arrival had been the laughingstock of the league, win the 2001 Apertura title, ending a 35 year draught that began in 1966!
I also had the chance to visit the fields where Messi first began playing soccer in the junior divisions of Newell´s Old Boys, at the Malvinas Sports Complex in Rosario, Argentina. It was an incredible (almost spiritual) experience, realizing that I was in the same place where one of the greatest players ever to play the game of Futbol first began to kick the ball around as a kid, and fall in love with the game.
This trip was a great reminder of the influence that soccer had on my childhood growing up in Argentina! It also reminded me of the true essence of the game, especially when played by children who are simply trying to have fun, spend time together, and learn new tricks.
The important part of the game of Futbol is not simply the final score, but rather the people that you meet because of it, and the power that Futbol has to bring people closer together than they would otherwise be.
I think there is a lot to learn from that spirit, and I look forward to integrating it with our team into Senda’s message, and sharing it with all of you!