A Partnership for Social Good
Our fair trade Volta Professional Ball was the match ball in the Justice Match hosted by the Oakland Roots Sports Club last October 10. The primary purpose of the match was to celebrate and promote racial and gender equity.
Formed in 2018 by a group of Oakland natives, Oakland Roots S.C. seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the power of sports as a force for social good. The pro soccer team began to play in the National Independent Soccer Association in the fall of 2019. Whether on the pitch, in the stands, or within the community, the ORSC represents this one-of-a-kind city with passion, pride, and commitment to those values that the Oakland community stands for.
What is the foundation of this partnership?
Oakland Roots and Senda’s synergy is based not only on location proximity —Senda’s headquarters are located in Berkeley, a 15 mins bike ride from the Roots’ offices. But most importantly, it’s based on both organizations' shared mission: to promote the practice of sports as a vehicle for improving young people’s lives.
Senda has been supporting non-profit organizations like Soccer Without Borders and Street Soccer USA —among others— which are also ORSC’s purpose partners. On the other hand, Senda’s products are Fair Trade Certified™️, which means that they are manufactured according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. As a Certified B Corporation, Senda meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 1% of all of Senda sales go to help organizations that are improving people’s lives through sports.
In addition to the Oakland Roots by Senda Fair Trade Soccer Ball, Senda collaborates with the club by hosting a booth at all Roots home games along with other partner brands, and by providing training vests for game days and practices, as well as freestyle soccer balls that are showcased at community events. The Roots by Senda ball is available in size #5 and size #1 on our website.
Interview with Taylor Beggs
We had the chance to interview Taylor Beggs, Director of Partnerships at Oakland Roots Sports Club who shared his thoughts on this hopefully lasting partnership with Senda.
Senda: Can you tell us the story behind the Oakland Roots in Oakland?
T.B.: The concept of bringing pro soccer to Oakland has been in the works for over 4 years. We spent the first couple of years in the community asking the question, “why isn’t there a pro soccer team in Oakland? There are all of these other successful teams…” After a couple of years of research, we heard all the potential obstacles and knew we could overcome them. So we created a community advisory board to determine what could the pro soccer team do not only on the field but most importantly off the field to have a big impact in the community. We held numerous focus group sessions to develop the identity, brand and purpose of the club and with input from key community stakeholders we announced the club in 2018 and sold out the first 5 home games at Laney College in downtown Oakland.
Senda: How and why did you decide to start a soccer team in Oakland?
T.B.: At the very beginning, while sharing the vision of a new pro soccer team with key community stakeholders and potential investors it was important for us to not park a bus on the community like the majority of sports teams do. We wanted to do things differently and start out grass roots as it’s really the only way to do it in Oakland. Oakland is one of select towns in the US that is not afraid to call out organizations or companies if they do not represent and respect the values, the culture, the arts and history of their ancestors and community. Oakland is known for challenging assumptions and doing things differently so we felt it was our duty to do it the Oakland way, the only way.
Senda: The Roots have been very successful at developing a passionate follower base and having a unique point of view and aesthetics in a crowded Soccer market: How did you achieve that?
T.B.: The most important differentiator has been our community driven approach. Every decision we make comes with the lens of how can this initiative impact and inspire Oakland in a positive way? Whether it’s evaluating what to post on social media, who to partner with, the “in game” experience and entertainment, what merchandise to release… we’re very thoughtful when it comes to the smallest details and every touch point; and we sometimes spend a whole hour debating one tweet. If there is ever a question of whether or not the initiative or campaign represents the values, thoughts and diversity of Oakland we always go back to the community to get additional input or refer to our purpose statement which has served as our guiding ‘north star’ from the very beginning.
Senda: What type of impact do you want to make on both Oakland and the Roots fans that attend your games?
T.B.: Our goal is to have fans attend our game and leave inspired and wanting to tell 10 more of their friends about the Oakland Roots. There’s a quote the East Bay Express wrote about our games which came from Angela Davis: “But you didn’t come to see me, did you? You came to see each other.” This is what it’s all about, the community coming together and soccer is just the vehicle and platform to do so. We want to provide opportunity and access to all fans whether or not they can afford a soccer game. Through our partners and sponsors we have been able to send hundreds of kids from underserved areas of Oakland to our games, including not only tickets but also safe round trip transportation and healthy meals. Oakland traditionally has been a basketball and football dominated Town especially with youth and our mission is to have kids attend an Oakland Roots soccer game and leave thinking to themselves, “wow, the Defender for the Oakland Roots looks just like me and grew up in my same neighborhood. If he/she can do it why can’t I?”
Senda: You have had some cool collabs with brands like Oaklandish, Vans, Ale Industries, several local artists, and now Senda. How do you decide which collabs and projects to focus on? What do you hope to create through them?
T.B.: We’re very selective with who we associate and produce collabs with. Not only is brand perception a factor, most importantly, the alignment of that organizations’ mission and purpose. We want to transcend the boundaries of what it means to be a professional soccer team and that is why we’re called Oakland Roots SC - the SC stands for Sports Club and not Soccer Club. “Why can’t we have an eSports team, a skateboarding team or a fencing team?” We set it up that way on purpose and is the reason why we’ve been featured in Hypebeast and other non-traditional soccer publications.
Senda: How did the idea come about to create a unique Roots x Senda soccer ball?
T.B.: Senda is an organization we have been wanting to partner with since the beginning. Senda has been supporting our purpose partners such Soccer Without Borders, Street Soccer USA and My Yute so there was complete alignment in the shared mission to provide opportunity and access to youth in Oakland regardless of the income their parents have, gender, the color of their skin and the neighborhood in which they grow up in. When Senda approached us with the idea of a Roots x Senda soccer ball it was a natural decision for us and a great way to announce and kick off the partnership.
Senda: How does it feel to go from a ball idea/concept before, to hold the ball in your hands and be sharing it with Oakland and the World?
T.B.: Knowing the ball was produced with Fair Trade standards, it is very rewarding to hold the ball in our hands and share it with Oakland and the world. The Fair Trade model allows the producers to decide how they want to use the funds to support themselves and their family: often clean water, groceries, education, and health care. Fair Trade standards work to keep the planet healthy for generations to come by prohibiting the use of harmful chemicals and taking measures to protect natural resources and local communities. This model aligns quite nicely with the recent Common Goal movement we joined and we’re proud to be the first professional soccer team in the U.S. to make the commitment.
Senda: How have you seen futsal and street soccer growing in the U.S. in recent years? What kind of impact do you think it will have on the game of soccer?
T.B.: Soccer in general in the U.S. has been growing significantly in recent years and soccer on a global level is by far the most popular sport. FIFA estimates there are 4B active football players and fans… this is more than the five most commonly spoken languages combined. Different forms of soccer such as futsal, street soccer, teqball etc. which have already started to become mainstream internationally will only continue to pop up and grow roots in the U.S. and this is becoming apparent with organizations like Street Soccer USA who are repurposing abandoned lots and other surfaces in under-resourced communities to provide opportunity and access to those who might have never otherwise had the chance to play the game.
Senda: Is Senda's commitment to Fair Trade important to you? Why?
T.B.: Senda’s Fair Trade commitment is everything to us as we’ve mentioned previously. We could’ve selected our current league’s preferred soccer organization to supply our additional soccer ball and bib needs but we purposefully provided the opportunity to Senda Athletics not only because of the integrity that comes with Fair Trade and supporting the lives of those who are behind the scenes producing but also given we’re supporting a local business.
Check our website and discover Senda’s balls collection to find the right ball that fits your needs.