Archive for the ‘The Beautiful Game’ Category

Update: Little Feet, Big Goals…

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


When last The Shin Guardian talked to Little Feet As part of our The Beautiful Game series it was April…and they weren’t embarking on an amazing journey of completing fundraising on and building a soccer field in Honduras.

They’ve done it….or nearly so.

Take a step back from the World Cup hype to realize just how beautiful the game can be when it makes a social impact.

Little Feet just netted a big goal.

Well done...

As of June 1, 2010, we have completed the entire field and are now waiting for the grass to mature. As you have probably seen on the news, heavy rains in Honduras lately has caused a few problems. For us, it’s mostly with seeds being washed out but we will replenish them when weather permits. The good news is all the drainage we created for the field appears to be working as planned. Due to these heavy rains, we estimate that we need at least another month for the grass to fully mature. For this reason we are keeping the field closed off and are hoping sometime in July or August we will be able to open the field for play. We will have another update towards the end of June.

Original story below…..

…It’s Really That Simple

The people I admire most are those that see a need, have an idea and then start working hard to make a difference. One such person is Trevor Slavick an airline pilot and co-founder of Little Feet; a charity trying to make a difference through the power of soccer.

Some may be familiar with Little Feet by way of this t-shirt. For those that are not, Little Feet’s charitable model is straightforward:

Little Feet does not just send soccer balls overseas, they hand deliver them. Back in January I had a conversation with Trevor about Little Feet and his experiences personally giving ut these incredible gifts to kids. There is plenty of great information and footage on the Little Feet website, but the story of the first ball Trevor gave away is worth sharing here as it is seemingly out of a movie.

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The Dark Horses

Who would have guessed they would have won before the tournament started

With the exception of Brazil, it’s rare that the pre-tournament favorite(s) win(s) the world cup. Whether it be the weight of expectations, an unlucky bounce or deflection, poor refereeing or just a bad game, a lot of favorites don’t even progress to the big game. In the last world cup, one would be hard pressed to find someone who would have bet that the nations with the two oldest squads would have met in Berlin.

Italy were fresh from a domestic match fixing/referee scandal and the French were having managerial and motivational issues (again). Both started out slowly but gained momentum as the tournament went on. In 2002, both hosts South Korea and Turkey were the big surprises, but their Cinderella runs ended in the semi’s.

Once a team makes it to the semifinals all bets are off. Its just one game and anything can happen. Like most sporting events these are usually the best games as the teams have nothing too lose and go all out.

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Movie Review: Pelada


Last night Matt and I went to the Victorian Theater ( a lot fancier than it sounds ) to see the documentary Pelada.

The movie follows two former college stars a few years removed from undergrad as they try and figure out what to do with their lives. Luke is being pressured by family to go to law school and Gwendolyn is trying to write a novel. Both frustrated and missing soccer they plan a worldwide whirlwind trip to play pickup footie.

They start off in Brazil and make their way to Argentina and other places in South America. They play with elderly folks, they play in dodgy sections of Buenos Aires and even play in a prison pickup game.

They then make their way to Europe and Africa and then to China and Japan. The film ends with them in the Middle East.

I really enjoyed this documentary. It was a good mix of interviews and stories with some of the people they played against/with, as well as a snapshot of the places they were visiting. Both Luke and Gwendolyn were incredibly friendly and respectful to the people and situations they came across and in turn were treated in similar fashion. There is a lot of humor in the way it was shot and the camera people/directors (Rebekah Fergusson and Ryan White) did a wonderful job of capturing the fun with the intensity of each pick up game.

Austins Field in Methare Valley, Nairobi - Kenya

As someone who has done a lot of traveling and often migrated to any area where there might be pickup, I recognized the nervousness and awkwardness of speaking an unfamiliar language while trying to communicate that you would like to join their game. Most everywhere they went, they were greeted with welcoming arms and curiosity. Both could hold their own, though pretty much everyone playing was surprised and impressed with how good Gwendolyn was.

Just like all situations in life everyone had a story. The film often concentrated on the idea that while things are tough either through poverty, politically or what have you, that everyone enjoys a game of football and that it transcends all. We are often led to believe based on various feel good stories that come out around any major tournament time that football can bring peace, stop wars, end conflict (which they do) etc… and it was refreshing though sadly interesting that their experience in Jerusalem did not follow these feel good paths.

Jerusalem is home to three different religions and close to various violent attacks and conflict from many sides. They play a pick up game where the division between teams is between the Jews and the Arabs and it is very obvious. In the interviews it is clear that they don’t like each other and when a conflict arises over whether a goal is scored, things get heated. It seems from the film that the game just ends after this situation.

Gwendolyn and Luke

The film is careful not to take any sides politically and it does it best stay away from showing anyone in a negative light (apart from a guy in a “Robin Hood” hat who deserved it). Its very respectful of every situation they are in, which mirrors the attitudes of both Luke and Gwendolyn. They’re both wonderful people and their joy and excitement with every game they play is infectious. As mentioned they were former college stars who didn’t make it professionally. Luke has made peace with this (he comes across as one of the most patient and easy going people in the world) and his calm demeanor is mirrored in the way he plays the game. Gwendolyn is having a harder time as she wrestles with her current situation versus her life long dream to be the best.

This is an excellent movie that captures the joy of kicking a ball around with old friends and neighbors whether in competition, for exercise or just something to do. It reminds you that regardless of how tough life can be, that people do find joy and release in a pick up game of football, that the game is important to everyone and in most cases brings people together.

Check out their site here and if there is not a screening being shown near you, buy the DVD, watch it and then go out and find a game.

It will rain tears of sorrow in the plains of Spain

Will he lift up the World Cup Trophy July 11th?

The other Guardian publication came out with this article a couple of weeks ago about 6 great teams that never won the world cup. It’s a good read and it got me thinking about other great teams, club and country that had it all but couldn’t capture the big prize. Most recently Barcelona came to mind in this years Champions League. They were an incredible team but couldn’t get it together nor break through Mourinho’s well orchestrated defensive tactics and lost over two legs in the semis.

Spain are a fantastic team. As of now they are the favorite amongst most pundits and bookies to hoist the cup on July 11th. They won Euro 2008 beating holders Greece, Italy and Russia en route to a 1-0 final against Germany. Between the end of 2006 and the summer of 2009, Spain went unbeaten in 35 international matches until they lost to the US in the semis of the Confederations Cup. Since that 2-0 loss in South Africa they have won their last 9 games. That is 1 loss in 45 games!!! This is a great team and a great team that will not win the world cup in 2010.

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The Beautiful Dunk

Kind of cool to see this coming out of a high school dunk competition in the midwest. I would have imagined Steve Nash doing this first but either way, great pass and great finish!

Help Brian Ching Build Houses Now…

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

Brian Ching might be resting his hamstring–for a month or more–but he’s not resting on his laurels….

I had a chance to converse with Clark Haptonstall on Monday night. This post was due out earlier today with Brian’s announcement, but the day got away from TSG.

The House That Ching Built

Anyway, Clark is a player representative for Brian Ching, Stu Holden, and Rico Clark among others.

If you’ve read the publication since it’s inception, you know that Clark was the first rep to grant The Shin Guardian an interview…with Stu Holden after his Gold Cup theatrics nonetheless.

In short the thing I know about Clark is the players he works with always, “do good” outside the game and Brian Ching today is just another example.

Brian is attempting to raise of $25,000 this weekend through a ticket promotion for the Dynamo’s match against the Galaxy. For more on the promotion, visit Brian’s web site.

More impressive? Since Ching announced this past December that he wanted to raise over $75,000 for Habitat for Humanity, he’s already raised or had pledged $40,000. Wow. “The House That Ching Built” is scheduled for construction in October of 2010.

There are few times when The Shin Guardian posts a press release from a player or team. This time, it’s the in the name of a good cause and for a good effort.

Thanks Brian, for showing the reason why it is called, again, the beautiful game.

(Stay tuned for another great Beautiful Game piece Wednesday.)

The Shin Guardian’s Interview from February with Brian.


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