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26 June 11:28 am

Several members of the FC Dallas family are traveling to Brazil this summer to take in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have agreed to share their experiences with FCDallas.com to give our readers a first-person perspective of the festivities. Erika Cook and Melissa Janetta work in Business Development and Partnership Marketing for FC Dallas. They've traveled to Curitiba along with FC Dallas Foundation Director Melissa Reddick to do volunteer work with Lionsraw (and watch a little soccer). Give them a follow @2SoleSisters on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with them on Tumblr.

It didn’t take long for me at all to fall in love with this project and the people of Parolin. I felt immediately connected to the kids through our mutual love for soccer and their endless enthusiasm to learn. While all the other projects are outside the city of Curitiba, Parolin is in the inner city. The favela community (our version of inner city projects) is a harsh upbringing for the kids as the drug ridden streets and crime rule the community. We’ve spent time coaching and mentoring the kids of this favela as a reward for those that are attending school and church on a regular basis. This formula has been put into place in this community as a way to instill discipline and structure.

Our project is based in a 3G covered field house where just a few streets away from the pitch lies the worst favela that Lionsraw has seen as a team. Our kids are ages six to about sixteen and about 98% are boys. We have morning sessions with the little ones and then more technical afternoon sessions with the older kids. These kids are amazing soccer players! They are mini versions of Neymar dancing their way around each other like you wouldn’t believe. And tough…some of them play barefoot or in socks. If they get knocked down they don’t whine or complain and quickly get back up and get involved. They are so eager to learn whether it’s a new foot skill or to simply count to ten in English. The children have great respect for all of the coaches and volunteers on the project. Each morning they’ve greeted us with smiles, handshakes, and fist bumps and thank us before they leave in the afternoon.

Aside from soccer, we were lucky enough to spend last Sunday attending church with the kids and their community. It was a great experience to see them outside of the pitch engaging with each other on a different level. Most of them attended without their parents knowing their incentive was that they got to finish the day on the pitch. Their church provides a great support system for the kids so I hope they continue to participate and attend.

The short time that I’ve spent here I can say have been some of the happiest moments of my life. My team of fellow coaches, the kids and the community have warmed my heart forever. My hope for these kids is that they can find enough inspiration to continue on their paths of education and pave their way towards a brighter future despite the struggles of the Parolin community.

Melissa

 

23 June 1:48 pm

Several members of the FC Dallas family are traveling to Brazil this summer to take in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have agreed to share their experiences with FCDallas.com to give our readers a first-person perspective of the festivities. Today's entry comes from FC Dallas Foundation Director Melissa Reddick, who traveled to Curitiba in conjunction with Lionsraw to do volunteer work in Brazil.

When I was hired four years ago to rebuild the FC Dallas Foundation, I was inundated with calls and emails from international groups wanting to partner in an official capacity. The game of soccer (or football, or futbol) is its own unique international language. It breaks down barriers to facilitate social change. Children will line up for their vaccines when the prospect of playing with an actual ball versus a can or coffee bag appears. So, I knew the Foundation would need to partner with a stable, efficient and effective international organization to make its mark in the world by using sports philanthropy for change. 

Through a mutual relationship, I met Jon Burns, founder and visionary of Lionsraw. Based out of the UK, Lionsraw mobilizes soccer enthusiasts to create "Chances for Change" locally and globally in countries that host soccer tournaments such as Poland and South Africa. Their mantra is 'harnessing passion & belief' and they are doing just that on three separate continents right now. When I met Jon and his team three years ago, they were already on the ground in Brazil preparing for the 2014 World Cup, scouting the right legacy project.

Two pieces of Lionsraw that were important for me were first, that they believed in local work as much as global work and second, that they were in a project area building relationships prior to and long after the tournament had ended. This is exactly what makes Lionsraw unique. They are in a country years before their 'legacy tours' begin and stay well after. They build relationships with hosts and organizations on the ground as well as their volunteer base. This year's legacy tour in Brazil brings over 250 volunteers to the Curitiba area. 

There are two projects occuring at the same time - the build portion and the football portion. The build project is located in Tangua, north of Curitiba and will provide a community center that will host 500 people a week for education and sports programming. This project began months ago and will be completed in July.

While this is happening, there are three football projects in different favelas around Curitiba. The projects will deliver nine days of community football during June. Each project site has a skilled coach that leads volunteers with a wide range of skills and experiences. 

Where does the FC Dallas Foundation come in? Through its Gear Up Project presented by Albertsons, the Foundation donates new and used soccer gear to Lionsraw to be distributed locally as well as globally. The Foundation also partners in local Dallas projects such as a school refurbishment in West Dallas, a number of camps and will be involved in the soccer academies that Lionsraw and another local non-profit, the Fifty-Eight Foundation are establishing to teach leadership through soccer to middle school-aged students. 

This year, I joined the volunteer team in Brazil. Arriving in Curitiba last Thursday, I have had the honor of experiencing the other side of the World Cup. It's the side that you don't see while you are watching the chanting crowds and painted faces at the matches all over the country. For the past two days, I served with a team in a small favela north of Curitiba called Almirante Tamandare to lead drills to 30 or so boys from the ages of 5-16.  Our community host is the patriarch of the favela, Pastor Rondinely (pronounced Hon-din-eli). Rondinely himself played for a professional club here in Curitiba and has a 16-year-old son in an academy program on the other side of the favela.  His English is minimal but we were able to talk about the FCD Academy program and the similarities to his residency. 

Not only have my language skills been tested, but my soccer skills as well. I am usually hosting soccer clinics in an administrative capacity and only play the game in the annual staff tournament when some unlucky team of co-workers draws me in the draft.

The boys are so positive, grateful and respectful. They walk in to the pitch shaking every volunteer's hand when they arrive and depart with a handshake, or for me, a kiss on the cheek. There were some incredible skills on the old turf pitch that is completely fenced in with a net roof.  It has been 55 degrees out; however, most were in shorts and some played barefoot. The team of volunteers, consisting of Brits and a couple Americans did a wonderful job of engaging the boys.

Most of the volunteers have worked with the kids for a few weeks now, so seeing the relationships between them and the kids that come regularly is touching. Michael, our leader, has a wonderful relationship with the host and speaks incredible Portguese considering he has only been here for two months. I interacted with a number of the kids, but especially a small boy named Andres (right) who played on the side. He was clearly the youngest in age, but not in skill. He would dribble and motion for me to follow. Once after a cartwheel, he looked at me with a challenge in his eyes. Of course, I did it; however, I passed when it came to walking on my hands. Andres was proud of his victory. 

Fabian and Rafael (left) are about 9 years old. Clad in matching outfits of green and gold, they played in the morning and the afternoon sessions with bare feet. Their sweet smiles quickly turned serious when they took on me and another volunteer with their long spider-like legs. They dominated. 

The first work day was spent coaching the two sessions on the pitch; however, the field was being used on the next work day so we spent the day at the church that Rondinely runs. After a positive message from Rondinely, we played FIFA, table tennis and hosted a round of soccer/bible trivia. I had brought a bunch of FCD gear along with me and the boys were excited to receive jerseys, hats, bags and tees. The kids are just happy to have this group of engaged adults to play with each day.

Today is a day off since Brazil is playing. I'll head to the stadium to see the Spain-Australia match before joining a watch party for the Brazil match. The Ecuador-Honduras game was an amazing experience on Friday. I'm sure today will be no less. I do have a feeling that watching the Brazil game surrounded by Brazilians will over shadow the in-stadium experience. The city is abuzz and feels like a holiday.

-Melissa

20 June 12:57 pm

Several members of the FC Dallas family are traveling to Brazil this summer to take in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have agreed to share their experiences with FCDallas.com to give our readers a first-person perspective of the festivities. Erika Cook and Melissa Janetta work in Business Development and Partnership Marketing for FC Dallas. They've traveled to Curitiba along with FC Dallas Foundation Director Melissa Reddick to do volunteer work with Lionsraw (and watch a little soccer). Give them a follow @2SoleSisters on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with them on Tumblr.

After a few hiccups trying to get on wifi, @2solesisters is officially connected! This will be our second night in Curitiba and things are just getting started. Yesterday was mostly a day of travel and as we arrived in Curitiba we had no idea what to expect but the anxiety was shortly laid to rest when we were greeted by the friendliest people. Everyone was in such good spirits and the hospitality from the airport, to the taxi driver, to the hotel staff was awesome. Thank goodness the one word that we learned before we came was obrigada because we’ve used it a lot! As we walked into our rooms we were excited-ish?? to find out that we have bunk beds.. so much room for activities! We finished our first night by meeting up with a few other fellow volunteers from Lionsraw. They were all so nice and we were able to play a couple friendly games of pool. Melissa and I tried not to hustle them too hard. ;)

Game days in Curitiba are off days for Lions Raw so we were able to easily go get our tickets for the match we attended tonight. After shockingly no lines or hassle to get the tickets we ventured out to get our first meal.. only to find that we literally could read nothing off the menu and our communication with the adorable waitress was extremely lost in translation. Somehow we ended up with burgers and fries and we were ok with that.

After lunch we taxied over to the FIFA Fan Fest, which we jokingly said looks a lot like the Byron Nelson. We were able to watch the Italy game on the big screen, but found ourselves in the middle of anxious Ecuadorians everywhere we turned. After Fan Fast we headed to our very first World Cup game at Arena da Baixada. It’s a beautiful stadium for the beautiful game. The energy we were able to experience tonight is something we will never forget, so tonight before we head off to bed to get ready for our busy day of coaching futbol clinics tomorrow we find ourselves chanting “vamos Ecuatorianos que esta noche tenemos que ganar!”

Ciao for now,
Erika

02 June 12:03 pm

In preparation for their August 9th game against the Colorado Rapids, our FC Dallas Special Olympics Texas team came up to Toyota Stadium for an afternoon of fun and practice on Thursday, May 28.

The day started out with a media day round of pictures and video capture exactly like what our professional players go through before the season starts. Each of the players took headshots and filmed intros that will be used before their game on August 9. After that, each member of the team joined FC Dallas President Dan Hunt to sign official contracts naming them as official FC Dallas players.

The players then headed out to the field to begin their training session led by Oscar Pareja, Stephen Keel, Nick Walker and David Texeira. The training session quickly became a heated game as both sides played to a draw that ended with a penalty kick shootout!

Join us on August 9th as our Special Olympics team plays the Colorado Rapids directly following the match between the FCD and Rapids MLS teams!

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO ALBUM FROM SPECIAL OLYMPICS MEDIA DAY & PRACTICE

27 May 3:14 pm

We're still a few weeks away from the big tournament in Brazil, but a mini-World Cup comes to Toyota Soccer Center this weekend with the third-annual MoneyGram Nations Cup.

The MoneyGram Nations Cup was organized in 2012 to promote outreach and unity in the local DFW community through the game of soccer and in 2014 we will celebrate the third year of the tournament. 16 teams have been drawn into four groups in a World Cup-style tournament that will determine the 2014 MoneyGram Nations Cup champion.

All group stage games will take place on Saturday, May 31st throughout the day leading up to the FC Dallas vs. San Jose game, and the knockout round semi-finals and finals will be on Sunday, June 1.

Admission is free to all games and we encourage all FC Dallas fans to come out early on Saturday afternoon to take in a little bit of the soccer carnival atmosphere! There will be plenty of fun for the kids with face painting, balloon artist and a soccer-shaped bounce house as well as pizza from Cici's sno-cones and other treats!

On Field 10, the Ultimate Soccer Experience will be set up with different interactive stations including soccer bowling, soccer basketball and a 1-on-1 competition while an EA Sports FIFA 14 station offers the chance to win bragging rights over your friends.

In addition, everyone who attends the MoneyGram Nations Cup will have the opportunity to win a brand new 2014 FC Dallas jersey by Tweeting your most creative photo from the 2014 Nations Cup using #NationsCup14 and here at FCDallas.com we have a special contest where you can win an FCD prize pack featuring a Raul Fernandez signed ball!

Don't forget to RSVP on the Facebook event!

 

10 April 1:20 pm

Veteran Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin featured rookie midfielder Ryan Hollingshead (right) in his column this week. Gosselin wrote about Hollingshead's decision to postpone starting his professional career in favor of spending a year helping his brother start a new church in Sacramento.

“When I said I was going to go help start that church and forgo that year of soccer,” Hollingshead said, “I did not expect to come back [to soccer]. Not because I didn’t want to or that the desire wasn’t there. More because I thought that was my chance — either you come and play now or it’s off the table.

“I wanted to play. But I wanted to plant this church first. That’s what God was calling us to do. Once they left the offer on the table, I took it.”

Read the full article HERE.

12 March 4:17 pm

It's just about time for our first Budweiser Party at the Pubs Watch Party of 2014! Join us this Saturday at Varsity Club Frisco a few miles west of the stadium on Main Street in Frisco as FC Dallas battles defending champions Sporting KC at 7:30PM.

Like last year, if you attend all eight of our Party at the Pubs in 2014, you'll be entered to win two 2015 Budweiser Beer Garden tickets and as with every watching party, we'll have lots of great FCD gear to give away.

Bring your friends, RSVP on Facebook and come out to the first watching party of 2014 on Saturday night in Frisco at Varsity Club!

 

04 March 10:50 pm

Whew, #DigitalTuesday was a busy one!

In our second day of FCD Week, we chatted with FCD President Dan Hunt, forward Blas Perez, goalkeeper Chris Seitz, head coach Oscar Pareja & Technical Director Fernando Clavijo. Let's recap the day! 

Our favorite Facebook chatter FCD President Dan Hunt, kicked off the day joining the fans for one of his famous Facebook chats!

After a little break, FC Dallas forward Blas Perez took over our Twitter to answer questions on a wide range of topics in just 140 characters! 

Up next, Chris Seitz hopped on Reddit for an AMA (Ask me anything) with the ever-growing Reddit.com/r/MLS community. 

After a break for MLS Commissioner Don Garber's YouTube Q&A, we were joined by FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja for an engaging chat with the fans on our brand new Red Alert blog

And finally, late in the afternoon, technical director Fernando Clavijo took some time out of his busy schedule to answer your Twitter questions live on YouTube! 

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the awesome chats! Less than four days left until opening day! 

 

04 March 2:48 pm

On day two of FCD Week, we will hold #DigitalTuesday, an all-day celebration of everything FC Dallas digital.

Throughout the day, we’ll be holding live chats with FC Dallas players and staff on a variety of digital channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and FCDallas.com. In addition, we’ll be releasing FCD themed backgrounds for your desktop/Facebook/Phone/Twitter backgrounds as well as running flash deals on social media for merchandise & tickets.

#DigitalTuesday schedule:

All Day – Giveaways & merchandise/ticket deals on social media

11:00AMFCD President Dan Hunt live Facebook chat

After practice (approx. 12PM)Blas Perez Twitter Takeover

1:00PMChris Seitz Reddit AMA

2:00PM - MLS Commissioner Don Garber live Q&A

3:00PM – Oscar Pareja FCDallas.com live chat

4:00PM – Fernando Clavijo live streaming YouTube Q&A

 

03 March 2:36 pm

It's #FCDWeek and the countdown to opening day is down to just 5 days left!

You'll see FCD out in the community all week and be sure to tune in as goalkeeper Chris Seitz will be on TXA21's The Fan Sports Show TONIGHT, March 3rd at 7:20PM.

But that's not all, two of our biggest fans are Chris Jagger and producer Josh Hart of The Jagger Mafia on from 6-10AM on 102.1 The EDGE. Tomorrow, March 4, Stephen Keel and Andrew Jacobson will join the Jagger Mafia at 7:45AM, a definite must-listen for anyone on their way to work.

#DTID