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Soccer Culture

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

 

25 June 3:01 pm

Need help getting out of work tomorrow to watch the all-important USA vs. Germany World Cup match? Dr. Tex Hooper has you covered! Just print and fill out the doctor's note below and turn it in to your employer and they'll have no choice but to excuse your absence on Thursday.

And in case you're wondering, the best location to treat WorldCupititus tomorrow will be at the AT&T Plaza at American Airlines Center. See you for treatment tomorrow!

24 June 4:30 pm

This is it. Your United States World Cup team battles Germany on Thursday morning at 11:00AM in Brazil & our FCD World Cup Tour pres. by McDonalds is set for the AT&T Plaza outside the American Airlines Center. If you were at Klyde Warren Park for our USA-Portugal watch party, you know what a special event it was and if you missed it, well just watch this.

Here's your FAQ's for Thursday morning's watch party:

When should I arrive?

The match kicks off at 11:00AM, but Klyde Warren was packed 90 minutes before kickoff. Arrival by 9:00AM should get you a good spot. Should. We had close to 5,000 show up for Sunday's watch party and we expect that many to be here for this final group stage match.

How should I get there?

There is parking available in the Audi Garage on the east side of AAC for $5. We also encourage all attendees to take Dart Light Rail to Victory Station for Thursday's event.

Can I bring food and drinks to AT&T Plaza?

You are permitted to bring a small, sack-sized cooler with non-alcoholic drinks. Beer will be available for purchase outside in the plaza as well as food, soda and water both from outdoor vendors and concession stands inside the AAC.

Can I bring folding chairs?

Yes, folding chairs are permitted into the AT&T Plaza.

Will the Portugal-Ghana game be on?

Yes! We're going to have the USA-Germany match on the big screen attached to the front of the AAC and Portugal-Ghana will be on one of the massive screens on the side of the AT&T Plaza. This is seriously going to be awesome.

What happens if the weather is bad?

We've been getting some much-needed rain around DFW over these last few days which has been great, but it's also made predicting the weather almost impossible. If inclement weather is imminent for Thursday's watch party, it will be moved inside the American Airlines Center...which actually would be pretty cool.

How can we make this an event that unites the whole city?

Invite your friends via our Facebook event, talk it up, get all your friends who live down in that area to come out. Every media outlet in town should be there so let's show DFW that Dallas is a soccer city!

 

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

16 June 11:05 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. Today's entry comes from Mobile Sales Team Manager Ryan Hurtado from Rio de Janeiro.

Yesterday was hands down the most incredible experience as a sports fan. As we stepped into the Maracana for the first time to see our seats were 19 rows from the pitch, I couldn't help but just scream. I think I know how Kevin Garnett felt now in his "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE" moment! Haha.

As a college football player and some one who has really been into soccer for four years, it has been a process that has transformed me. If you said five years ago that I would enjoy soccer more than a football or basketball game, I would have spit my drink out in laughter. So submerging yourself in a sport and culture, working and seeing tons of matches from USMNT live, Brazil vs. Mexico, MLS matches, College and Youth Soccer to now see THE Messi live and have him score a matter of 100 feet away from you in the World Cup, I guess you can say this was my baptism in the religion of footy.

To explain how wild the Argentina fans were would be an understatement. The impromptu chants that took over the stadium were somewhat baffling! Only to have every Brazilian in the crowd respond to their chants to support Bosnia, it made for an atmosphere like I've never felt before. To only think this was game one. I'm not sure how this will compare to today's USA match as we won't be in Natal, but look to join tens of thousands of US fans at the FIFA Fan Zone.

This morning I took in Ipanema with a workout to mentally get ready to be as proud as possible to be American in a foreign county. I have been outside the U.S. before, but this will be the first time where I get to don the Red, White and Blue while also rewriting perception on Americans not only as a culture but as soccer fans. Prepping my full Popsicle Away kit and board shorts should really help the pompous American views!

Portugal vs. Germany kicks soon, here is to hoping for a 90 minute brawl that ends in a draw!

Tchau!

15 June 10:23 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. Today's entry comes from Mobile Sales Team Manager Ryan Hurtado from Rio de Janeiro.

After 20+ hours of travel, Bom Dia!

With a few hiccups before we even left and a couple changes on the itinerary, the trek to Rio only became more fruitful (Imagine flying from London to DFW, having three hours to drive to Love Field to take a flight to Houston to only fly north again to OKC. OKC and Rio aren't the right comparison, but you get the idea). After having to squeeze a cab ride through São Paulo to get to another airport for a connecting flight, we saw a hint of Brazil's diversity and culture in a 40 minute drive and this was just scratching the surface.

The first thing that was uncertain in my mind was the reception of my American pride. With the centennial crest on my chest through the whole day of travel and conversations in English, broken Spanish and Portuguese, the courtesies were amazing! All ethnicities were proud, excited and just wanted to joke and talk soccer.

Mexican fans said thank you for allowing them to be there (like we had anything personally to do with it) and we laughed over our shared love for Graham Zusi. To the French we met on the way to Porto Alegre who spoke of MLS, Michael Bradley and how they saw us as dangerous because of Jurgen. The theme was clear that soccer transcends language. Friendly banter was all around, especially as Ghanaians passed and we patted our chests while they chirped "you don't want it again." Well, I didn't have much response there!

With our plans getting us into Rio later than desired, we knew there was a night of Samba and Cachaça ahead of us that wouldn't allow my dumb grin to leave my face. This is all built up by the anticipation of seeing some matches live, which by the pace of the tournament should be wild and entertaining affairs.

I'd be at fault if I did'nt mention the night life in Rio. The night to say the least was incredible. We had some food in Ipanema Beach and proceeded to a botico to watch the Ivory Coast vs Japan match. This botico for no other reason than it was a Saturday turned into a block party, where the smiles, beautiful people and chope were endless. By the end of the night myself and two travel companions made a multitude of friends Brazilian, Dutch, American and in between. This city breathes a life and atmosphere that I've never felt before. Add in the fact it is 75 all the time without humidity and you can imagine why it's hard not to smile the entire time! I am off to the Maracana to see Messi live, time to cross that one off the bucket list.

Tchau, Ryan

02 June 1:49 pm

The calendar has turned and that means it's time to release the next edition in our Scarf of the Month line. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this month, naturally June's scarf has a World Cup theme.

The limited-edition scarf shows your support for club and country all at the same time. One side displays "USA" and "FC Dallas" in red, white and blue - the colors of the USMNT and FCD - while the reverse side reads, "One Heart, Two Teams" in yellow, green and blue - the colors of World Cup host nation, Brazil.

This is sure to be one of our fastest-selling scarves of the year, so order yours today before they sell out!

#DTID!

01 May 2:04 pm

May has begun, and that means it's time for a brand new Scarf of the Month! May's limited-edition scarf features an argyle pattern with clean white ends and red fringe. One side displays a white FC Dallas wordmark, with an all-white FCD shield on the other side.

The March Scarf of the Month sold out in a matter of days, and the initial order of April's scarf sold out in less than 24 hours, prompting a second, special-edition order that sold out just as quickly. So don't waste any time ordering this month's edition. After all, you want to have the complete Scarf of the Month collection at the end of the year, don't you?

#DTID!

16 April 2:58 pm

You could meet some of your favorite FC Dallas players this week with two Meet & Greets scheduled at local Fiesta locations this Thursday, April 17 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Homegrown players Victor Ulloa and Moises Hernandez will be at the Fiesta at 8060 Spring Valley Road and Colombian duo Fabian Castillo and Jair Benitez will be at the Fiesta at 1200 E. Parker Road in Plano.

In addition to the Meet & Greets, Fiesta and Budweiser are giving fans the chance to win a trip to Seattle to watch FC Dallas take on Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, May 7. Fans can enter to win by texting DALLAS to 839863.