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"SMALL GOALS, BIG CHANGE" 2015 TOURNAMENT; OAKLAND YOUTH WIN BIG

This past Sunday, Senda and  Soccer Without Borders (SWB) partnered up to bring the Oakland community the annual Small Goals, Big Change soccer tournament. It’s always a pleasure to work with an organization that provides educational and playing opportunities to under-served youth and shine a light on the unsung heroes of soccer: community builders. The tournament was an event that allowed soccer to do what it does best—bring members of the community together. SWB operates on FIVE basic principles that allow disadvantaged and immigrant youth of local communities to thrive through the beautiful game, and these principles were visible throughout the entire day.

“Using Soccer As A Vehicle For Positive Change.” - Soccer Without Borders

SOCCERwas the median by which SWB and Senda communicated with the diverse group of players. This was the second time that Senda had a presence in the tournament, and the first in which we had a team!  The Senda squad had 15 people including staff, interns, supporters, and customers. We had a blast staining our shorts and breaking a sweat towards a 4 th place finish, and most important being actively involved with the people we serve: coaches and players who are our customers  supporters and Soccer Without Borders, one of our three non profit partners.

CULTURAL EXCHANGEand TEAM BUILDINGwas present the very minute we walked onto the field. The Tournament took place at Gillman Sport Complex in Berkeley, CA, but the event was anything but a local affair. While the world is used to soccer powerhouses like the Germans or Spanish, at the "Small Goal, Big Change" tournament, the highlight of the day was playing against youth representing lesser-known countries such as Burma and Somalia.

Above: Former professional player and current SWB Board Member, John O'Brien, introducing members of SWB and sharing stories of the role SWB has played in their lives and communities.

The tournament itself was non-profit and operated around equipment donated by SWB and Senda. We were proud to provide  our top-level soccer ball, the VOLTA Premier, to be used for tournament matches, and provided bibs and prizes to the winners of the tournament. The CIVIL ENGAGEMENTwe experienced was fantastic. The event raised donations to further facilitate the development of the disadvantaged and immigrant youth of the Oakland area, to then even further influence civil engagement within the community. A beautiful example of how the social aspect of soccer can be used to fuel a sustainable circle of positive influence within a community. Behind the scenes, members of the “Social Soccer” app, Jogabo, were also involved within the games and live fed updates from the tournament through their app

Above: Senda Founder and CEO Santiago takes time to meet the members of the Jogabo team.

We enjoyed being EDUCATED by the SWB presentations in-between games as well. It was a worldly experience to hear the stories of so many community members’ lives being shaped by the beautiful game. The youth participants, who four years ago barely spoke English and had doubted their self worth in a foreign community in Oakland, confidently shared the impact that Soccer Without Borders had in their lives during the tournament. Speaking to more than 100 tournament participant, youth from SWB that arrived to Oakland from  Somalia and El Salvador shared their hardships as newly arrived refugees, and how how the soccer program helped them to make new friends, build confidence, do well in school, and stay away from negative influences such as gangs.

 It was a phenomenal way to spend a Sunday and we highly encourage anyone interested in supporting the community through soccer to take part in next year's tournament!

Above: Members of the Tournament watch and celebrate presentations done by SWB and fellow players.

Just as the Nike’s and Adidas’ of the world sponsor the likes of FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, it’s our goal at Senda to  be sponsors and supporters of passionate grassroots organizations of the soccer world that are improving lives through the game. Four years ago we noticed that this phenomenal organization had a track-record of creating real impact, but had limited ability to obtaining new quality gear. We had the dream to build a brand that developed a dedicated partnership with such organizations and to provide them with new top-quality gear to help tell the Senda story. Thanks to organizations such as Soccer Without Borders, Street Soccer USA, and the likes of local recreation leagues such as Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), as well as the support of thousands of customers across the USA, that dream has started to become true.

We are starting with small steps like our participation and sponsorship of the "Small Goals, Big Change" tournament, and we are determined to grow and do even more in the years ahead! What all these organizations and Senda have in common is not just passion for the game, but for the people surrounding it, and as SWB best puts it, “Using Soccer As A Vehicle For Positive Change.” We’re proud to be able to partner with such like-minded, influential and positive members of the community. A big thanks again to SWB for hosting the event and allowing Senda to engage with the local community.

Above: The crew celebrating a successful Small Goals, Big Change tournament.   Above: The Senda team setting up a camp of equipment and prizes for throughout the day. Written by Mahdi Ardestani Team Senda  

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