Archive for the ‘The Beautiful Game’ Category

The Beautiful Game: It’s Not Really About “On” The Pitch

The Beautiful Game series explores how soccer makes a difference around the globe.

Been a very emotional week here at TSG and we are tardy in following up on our The Beautiful Game series.

Good news this month….the super touching Freddy Fund is about to break ground on their field–that story…is…amazing.

A phenomenal video below done to support youth soccer by Nick Butler, an 18 year old who attends West Hills Community College in Lemoore, CA.

Below that, a list of fine charities. Click around, donate, “like” their Facebook pages.

They are all truly…transformative.

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Please support these heroes:

» Street Soccer USA

Right Now: The Homeless World Cup starts Sunday in Paris (Definitely need to follow this.)

About: Ending homelessness through sports

Social: Twitter, Facebook, More.

Story on TSG.

» (Boston) URGENT: The 24-Hour Barefoot Soccer Fundraiser

Date: August 19, 2011.

About: Help to fight AIDS in Africa.

» Little Feet in conjunction with the American Outlaws

About: Delivering soccer balls and hope all around the globe.

Story on TSG.

» Soccer Without Borders

About: Using soccer as a vehicle for change in the lives of marginalized youth.

Social: Twitter, Facebook

» Soccer For The Cure

About: Support to cure breast cancer

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TSG encourages you to add your charity, ANY charity in the comment section below. Thank you.

Oh and these guys are going to a great job with the true Beautiful Game.

Editorial: The Women Could Teach The Men A Thing Or Two

In this author's humble opinion, the last truly great Brazil team. The flair and sexiness of their play was orgasmic. Their haircuts and facial hair, not so much.

I’ve watched football (soccer) for almost 30 years. My first real exposure to world football was the 1982 World Cup, the one everyone thought Brazil would win, and I watched with the eyes of an awestruck 6 year old. The beauty and skill on display was magical and I was hooked.

In 86’ in Mexico, I was wowed by Maradona’s incredible and wonderous skill and mortified by his hand of god. As the World Cups came and went and leagues went through their yearly drama, I observed each match I saw with less and less wonderment and with increasing scrutiny and cynicism.

Over the years I’ve witnessed the dominance of Serie A and it’s subsequent impotence, the rise of French international football, and the impacts of Heysel and Hillsborough. I’ve seen the rise and fall of Maradona, the brilliance and madness of Zidane, Man United’s domination of the Premiership, increased theatrics, outrageous transfer fee’s and soccer in the USA… and I’ve seen 3 Women’s World Cups.

Who didn't love the USWNT from '99?

Admittedly, I was fully gripped in 99 and like a lot of people fell in love with the USWNT, but my interest (like a lot of people) waned and I was only a casual observer for the next two cups. Leading up to this cup and writing for TSG, I became more involved with the USWNT as well as the English team’s path to Germany.

The first thing that struck me is that the world has caught up in many ways to the traditional powerhouses of Women’s soccer. England beat and mostly outplayed a strong US team in a friendly. Mexico beat the US and forced the number 1 ranked team in the world to play a 2 game playoff in order to book their ticket to the land of bratwurst and beer. China, quarter-finalists in the past 2 cups and finalists in 99, didn’t even qualify, finishing behind Australian, North Korea (Dear Leader must have been proud and I do wonder how he took credit for it) and Japan.

Making babies cry and milk curdle, Franck Ribery and Carlos Tevez.

Watching most of the games (going to school and working for oneself does have it’s privileges), I’ve noticed that amazing athleticism is not just reserved for the best teams, but is prominent on every team, especially the keepers (Hope Solo is just out of this world). The supreme skill level, the deft touches, the sophisticated tactics and tip top fitness (Brazil aside) is pronounced on every team.

So this is a long winded path to get to my main point (if you know me personally this shouldn’t surprise you) – but I think that we’ve come to the point, where the women and the women’s game can teach the men how to make football beautiful again, and this goes beyond making Carlos Tevez and Franck Ribery wear bags over their heads.

Less handbags, more play.
The most noticeable difference is the general flow of the game. There is end to end action and the ref’s whistle is often silent for prolonged periods of time.

True Grit!

Why is this you ask? Well aside from the Brazil V. USA quarter final, there is no blatant bitching or disrespecting of every call or Oscar worthy theatrics to deceive the referee. Women footballers, don’t get in skirmishes or “throw handbags” like some of their male counterparts.

They respect each other, their opponents, the referee and the game. If a hard challenge is administered, the attacking player gets up, dusts herself off, “sacks up” and gets on with the game, versus squirming around in agony desperately trying to remember which body part to clutch onto, so that their injury is more believable.

The ref’s on their part let the game flow, as they aren’t concerned if every tumble is real or a dive, because no self respecting woman’s player (not named Erika) would feign injury, as they posses more pride in their skill and toughness and believe that’s “not part of the spirit of the game”.

The referee’s also let many tough tackles and fouls go, as they know that the players are not going to bitch and moan, but instead will continue to play.

There is no “me” in team

The team that dances together, wins together.

The overall team camaraderie and pride is also more prominent in the women’s game. Everyone celebrates the goals, the teams huddle and offer support during tough moments, and there is very little petulance directed at teammates and coaches. Are there instances of this? Of course – please step up Birgit Prinz and Marta, but those are rare exceptions.

Yes, men’s teams huddle and celebrate goals (and sometimes very homo-erotically), but you don’t always get the feeling that it’s genuine. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but the men’s game is often less about team and more about the individual – hell, Ronaldo has more product in his hair then the entire USWNT.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
There also seems to be a greater respect for one’s opponents in the women’s game. Maybe it has to do with the fact that each player recognizes that they share a common struggle to gain respect and earn a living playing a sport they love in a male dominated game.

5 times in row women's player of the year, is only just getting the recognition she deserves in her home nation.

Brazil offers very little support to their national team and women’s soccer was still banned in Brazil in the 80’s. This from arguably the greatest footballing nation in the world, when every time their men’s team play, it’s declared a holiday.

In the States, the WSP is struggling, though they have just added two teams to the league. Hopefully, the World Cup will increase support, but don’t count on it.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are doing something they truly love, and so do their opponents and after all it’s just a game. That their opponents are people too, who deserve respect and for 90 minutes and in some cases 120, they will battle, but they will do it within the laws and spirit of the game and competition.

Whatever the reason, it’s a pleasure to see the women treat each other, their team mates, opponents and referee’s alike with dignity and respect. It makes the game better, makes it flow smoothly and offers us a chance to see some real skill and athleticism.

US soccer

Rampone - could you please teach the USMNT to defend

Specifically, I believe US soccer can learn from the women.

First, the USMNT should take some ball control lessons from their women counterparts. I’m not talking about dribbling and trying to beat 3 players on the run (but talk to Cristiane from Brazil who could show Jozy a thing or too), but more about trapping the ball (entire US womens team), precise passes (Chaney and Lloyd), smart and gutsy defending (Rampone and Krieger) and not relying on your superhuman keeper to bail you out of every situation (even though Solo could should she want).

Yes, I get there are differences between the men’s and women’s game, namely speed and power, but the gap in skill has very much narrowed, if it is still even existent. Did you seem some of those long range howitzers? Those precise delicate chips over the keepers and the penalties!

Everyone of the 9 penalties shot in the quarterfinal shootout between the US and Brazil were very well taken, accurate, and sometimes thunderous shots (Daiane’s penalty was actually quite good, but was just amazingly saved by Solo). How I would love it if the English mens team (the English women could use a tutorial as well) would sit down with Wambach and Lloyd and ask “Oy…how’d you do that love?”

Ali Krieger..."Will you marry me? No seriously!"

Also, how much would I love to just sit down with Ali Krieger…sigh!

Finally, I think US soccer commentary could learn a thing or two from Julie Foudy. She’s not perfect, but she is streets better then Harkes, Lalas and Dellacamera put together (the thought of a morphed version of those three made me shudder uncontrollably).

Time-keeping aside, she offers very astute and insightful thoughts about the match, the tactics and the overall play. She doesn’t feel the need to overwhelm the viewer with stupid facts or personal stories (though the occasional one she does tell are appropriate to what’s going on) and she’s fair and mostly unbiased. She’s enthusiastic, yet sophisticated and incredibly well spoken.

She’s developed an excellent report with Ian Darke and has clearly learned from him, something Harkes failed at.

In 6 days the women’s World Cup will be over. 6 months ago, after winning the WPS championship, the FC Gold Pride folded due to financial struggles. The Premiership and the rest of the European leagues will commence in just over a month. The Champions League, Euros and 2014 world cup qualifying, as well as the European Championships will all commence within two months to a year. The chances to see women’s soccer will be few and far between.

I hope every mens player is watching the Women’s World Cup and taking notes. I hope they are realizing that the women “have more stones”  then the majority of them, that they have more pride,  love and respect for the beautiful aspects of the game. I hope they understand that football is best played when it flows, without the constant tweeting from the referee. I hope they understand that they can learn a thing or two…

The Beautiful Game: The Other MVP In Dallas

The Beautiful Game series explores how soccer makes a difference around the globe.

Update: Target RAISED. Groundbreaking on the field begins shortly.

There’s Another MVP In Dallas You Should Know (from November 2010)

Support for this piece from Communications Chair of the Freddy Fund, Mike Anderson

Imagine having a good friend.

Freddy Garcia

Imagine enjoying playing a sport–this time it just happens to be soccer–with your good friend. In fact, it’s the fabric of your friendship.

Imagine being almost good enough to make that sport a living, but more than passionate enough to play for a reserve club, like the FC Dallas reserves, and to keep soccer as central to your life without it being a paycheck.

Now imagine that good friend–the one in the group who brought the energy, manufactured the sunshine–was taken from you.

They passed away….

Without warning, no time to prepare…..

For unknown reasons….

And right before they were to graduate from college…

For some, understandably, something as playful as a sport may become a burden.

“Oh man, I remember when I used to pass it to him….right…there.”

“I kind of don’t like having an extra space in the car on the ride to the field.”

You might recoil into yourself or need an extra push just to get back to even, to attain balance.

Or in the case of the friends of the late Federico “Freddy” Garcia–whose father once donned the Stars and Stripes–you do the exact opposite.

You use the cruel event that left a hole in your life and you rally. Big time.

You galvanize support.

You reach into the depths of the energy that Freddy once showered on you and you return that energy…to the community in homage to your fallen teammate….

In the form of a soccer field, erecting a place to play the sport that was more about friendship and much less about competition.

A field, layered with turf and lines, for the neighborhood where Freddy grew up; a neighborhood where the median household annual income is $17,000.

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Juggling….For The Beautiful Game…

The Beautiful Game Series at TSG examines how soccer

has a positive social impact on the world around us.

It’s not too late.

Every 45 seconds a child dies from Malaria. You can help!

You can help by participating in the OSA World Juggle-a-thon to benefit Nothing Buts on World Malaria Day which is today, April 25th!

Soccer players, fans and coaches everywhere are juggling to get better, juggling to save lives at 6pm their standard time anywhere in the world they have a soccer ball. The OSA World Juggle-a-thon is put on by OnlineSoccerAcademy.com for Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets is an MLS partner charity and for every $10 raised they provide a life saving bed net to a person in need in Africa.

How do I participate?

1. Download a pledge sheet on the “OSA World Juggle-a-thon” page of OnlineSoccerAcademy.com

2. College pledges or flat donations prior to juggling. The minimum suggested amount to raise is $30. Do that, you save 3 lives and you get a shirt!

3. Juggle for your juggling record by yourself or with friends at 6pm your time! After follow directions on pledge sheet and mail in your funds raise

Love This: Timbers Graduate In Style

Update: From September 3rd of last year. We give this some run today at TSG. Congrats on your MLS home opener Rip City.

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I wish someone would have told me about this beforehand.

Those who visit TSG know Miss TSG and I used to do the long distance thing between SF and Portland.

I’ve got a professed love for Rip City, what with its unfailingly friendly citizens, overrated coffee (sorry :>), phenomenal food (in fact a few months ago I mentioned Portland had the best food of any MLS town and Screen Door is my favorite restaurant), Short Sands surf break (just a skip out of town) and heavy porters.

Tuesday night represented the final USL game for the Timbers as they motor into MLS.

As a tribute to the team, the supporter group came prepped with a host of sunflowers–see the reason below, even cooler.

Having been to a host of Trailblazer games, I’m excited for MLS in Portland (and that has nothing to do with the product on the field yet.)

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Just learned this, at this site too:

“You are my Sunshine” is part of Timbers lore. It is sung at every Timbers game as a tribute. Timber Jim’s daughter, Hannah, was killed in an automobile accident in 2004, and in her memory, the Timbers Army made a tradition of singing “You Are My Sunshine,” often led by a tearful Timber Jim.

The Beautiful Game: On Koh Panyee

TSG’s The Beautiful Game series explores how soccer makes a difference around the globe.

This is a promotional video for TMB Bank. But it’s great. First “PR” piece I’ve run in…in…quite some time. But worth it.

This film is based on a true story. In 1986 a football team that lived on a little island in the south of Thailand called “Koh Panyee”. It’s a floating village in the middle of the sea that has not an inch of soil.

Take a look

Re-Publish: Turkish Delight

When in Rome...er Istanbul.

A few years ago, in an effort to find myself, I quit my job and decided to work for myself; so that I could travel the world. Leaving potential clients hanging in the wind, skipping town in the beginning of a relationship (that ultimately failed), and avoiding general responsibilities wasn’t the best idea, but I was youngish and stupid!

My travels took me to Istanbul, Turkey and as a huge soccer fan, I had to go to a couple of games. My goal was to watch a game at the famed Ali Sami Yen stadium, where Galatasaray play. I had read stories and seen pictures of manic fans wielding cutlasses with fires a blazing behind them, and I wanted to see this for myself. Sadly, the only game they were scheduled to play during my time there, was a Champions League game against Bordeaux at the Olympic Stadium (where Liverpool won in 05 in a thriller against AC Milan), as Ali Sami Yen was deemed too small to host a Champions League match.

European side of Istanbul, taken from the Asian side docks.

Below are my experiences at a Super Lig game and at the Champions League group game.

Fenerbache vs Antalyaspor
Around 6pm, I proceeded to buy a ticket to Kadikoy which is on the Asian side of Istanbul. I still can’t get over the fact that I went from Europe to Asia in 20 minutes to watch a football game, but there you are. According to the website the game was supposed to start at 8pm, so I wanted to get there early and take some pics of the more fanatical fans. I expected the boat to be full of Fenerbache fans in their blue and yellow striped jerseys, but surprisingly they weren’t…more on that in a bit.

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