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Neven Subotic: How to Defend


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In soccer, defending is key to winning games, and championships. It’s a crucial aspect of the game, and if you don’t know how to do it properly, you and your team can struggle. I’ve been working on my defensive game lately and looking for tips and pointers on the right and best ways to defend. As I was watching some YouTube videos I thought, “Wait, who better to ask than one of the best defenders in the world: Borussia Dortmund’s, Neven Subotic.”

I caught up with Neven and asked about the keys to successful defending. Here’s what he had to say:

My biggest tip would be to watch the ball and follow its movement. If the attacker is running at you fast, you have to run backwards fast to keep pace and most importantly push him to one side. If you close him down so that he can only go to one side then half your job is already done. Then you know that if he pushes the ball out in front, you can get in his way and take the ball. But, if he decides to go towards the side that you closed down, then he has to slow down or push the ball back. Also, don’t try and stab unless you are 100% sure you will get the Ball, most of the time the opponent makes a mistake and almost “gives” you the Ball.

Thanks Neven for the awesome tips! Hope this helps all you soccer players out there who are looking to improve your defensive game as well!

Fox 17 News Interview

CharityBall-Fox17News
You gotta love it when the news invites you to share your story on the air. This morning I was given the opportunity to speak on Fox 17 Morning News about Charity Ball and how we’re giving kids in poverty-stricken communities new soccer balls.

The two anchors, Tim Doty and Leigh Ann Towne interviewed me for a brief 5 minutes on air and asked me how Charity Ball got started and how people can get involved.

Here’s a link to the interview.

This was an awesome experience. On a separate note, I finally understand how the meteorologists do the weather on the green screen. :p

Hero Round Table Conference

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I had the opportunity to speak at a conference in Flint, Michigan about Charity Ball a couple of weeks ago. The conference was called the Hero Round Table and people from all over the world came to present.

In one of my previous blog’s I wrote about Matt Langdon, who heads up the Hero Construction Company. The conference was an idea that he had been developing for a long time. With the help of a few people and some sweet sponsors, the idea become a reality.

My role in the conference was to give a 12 minute speech about Charity Ball and how it started with one small act of kindness. I got some great feedback on my talk, which was awesome. There were about 400-500 in total attendance, and about 1/4 of them were teens.

It was an amazing to meet and hear from a bunch of stellar people who are out there making a difference in world.

If you didn’t go this year, be sure to check it out next year. You won’t want to miss it!

The Real Heroes

Ethan and Brooke Babbitt (pictured above) from Grand Haven, MI 

Let’s just be honest, Charity Ball wouldn’t be what it is without the help of some amazing people. The real heroes are the ones who sacrifice by doing things like giving up their birthdays, donating their allowances, collecting bottles, organizing tournaments and inviting friends to do things bigger than themselves.

This post is a shout out to some of the people who have recently something with Charity Ball to make the The Beautiful Game even more beautiful.

  • Brooke Babbitt – For her 10th birthday, Brooke hosted a party at a local bowling alley. She sent out a letter to all her friends and soccer teammates before the event that she would be requesting money to donate to Charity Ball instead of gifts. Brooke felt inspired to use her birthday to share soccer with other kids around the world. “I already have a ton of stuff,” she said.
  • Lawrence Kaplin – Traveled to Haiti a few weeks ago and hand-delivered balls to kids
  • Grant, Mickey, Bryce, Alex, and Colton – Played in an Illinois soccer tournament on behalf of Charity Ball
  • Leo Adams – Hosted a soccer game for his 10th birthday and asked the kids who came to make donations to Charity Ball. He raised $525, enough for 21 soccer balls.
  • Jeremy Hurd – Charity Ball advocate extraordinaire organized his youth soccer team to promote Charity Ball at (Region I) regionals
  • Leigh Sears and Hope College Women’s Soccer Team– Secured finances to help fund the Play [well] Cup
  • Garrison Mast, David Krapohl, Bryce Eggers, and Andrew Keizer – Played in a tournament on behalf of Charity Ball
  • Amelia Leopold – Created a Bat Mitzvah project to purchase kids new soccer balls
  • Drew VanAndel – Raised finances for the Play [well] Cup Tournament in Mozambique
  • Zach Kammeraad – Rallied people, spread the word and made phone calls to potential sponsors
  • James Los– College student who has financially invested in Charity Ball on a regular basis since the beginning

To the real heros…

2013 Charity Ball World Tour: Tom Bearor

Many of you know that Charity Ball’s first World Tour kicked off January 9 and lasted almost 4 months. The tour was an amazing success. It was led by Tom Bearor, a University of Maine student who helped us integrate the project into his Semester at Sea. Over the course of the tour, he and a group of students #teamcharityball hand-delivered 500 new Charity Balls to kids in China, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, 
India, Myanmar, 
Mauritius, South Africa, 
Ghana and 
Morocco. Tom had limited access to internet, but still was able to email a picture of his travels from time-to-time. I was really cool knowing that Tom and a handful of students were out there traveling the globe sharing The Beautiful Game with kids in challenging situations. He recently sent us a final update on the project. You’ve got to read the whole thing. It’s really inspiring.

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From Tom…

The day had come, January 9, 2013, the day I had been anticipating for the last six months, the first day of my Semester at Sea (SAS) voyage and of the Charity Ball World Tour. This was the start of my most life-changing experience, the day that would truly jump-start the rest of my life.

The day started with an early alarm in my hotel room in San Diego. I hopped in the shower unknowingly washing away the life I once had. I grabbed breakfast and found my group for the 8:15 a.m. bus to En Senada, Mexico. I was toting a backpack, a duffle carrying what I’d need for my four-month voyage, and another duffle stuffed with hundreds of soccer ball pumps.

We crossed our first international border as we entered Mexico to board the MV Explorer, the ship that would become my sanctuary, my community, and my home. My time in Mexico was strictly business – off the bus and onto the ship. As soon as I found my room and dropped my bags, I went to the Deans’ offices to introduce myself, “I’m Tom Bearor, the one doing the soccer ball project, and I’m wondering where the balls are.” The response I received was great. Dean Kevin and Dean Craig both jumped up, shook my hand, and responded, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Soccer Ball Tom.” I enjoyed this appellation and similar ones (e.g., Charity Ball Tom, Soccer ball kid, Charity Ball guy) on this ship carrying 700 college students. It identified me as part of a project that was big, special and definitely noteworthy.

Two weeks and many waves later, I had my first opportunity to deliver balls as part of the Charity Ball World Tour when two friends and I visited an orphanage in Japan for the first ball delivery. We enjoyed the children’s smiles and chatter as we pumped up the balls and then played with them.

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But it was that night at dinner in Japan that I realized what this project’s most significant impact might be. I overhead a shipmate talking about an SAS service trip she had participated in. The trip visited a rural community and school, and the trip leader brought Charity Ball soccer balls at my request. The shipmate was excitedly describing her experience, and she said that playing soccer with the children was the best part of the service trip. It was as if a whole new world had opened for her – a world that brought different communities and ethnicities together; a world where language wasn’t a barrier; a world that can be made better by simple acts of kindness and generosity; a world where every kid deserves a ball. I sat back and smiled large. The World Tour would not only bring joy to the dozens of communities and thousands of people who would play with these balls after we left. It was impacting the students I was living with, most of whom want to make a positive change in the world.

CharityBall_Ghana2

An example of this was a story my friend Andrew told me as the ship pulled out of port in Myanmar, headed for India. He and another shipmate had been wandering the streets in Yangon and passed a few boys playing marbles on a dirt soccer field with broken down nets. It looked like soccer had not been played there in a long time. Andrew continued his walk and happened on a shop that sold soccer balls. He bought one and returned to the field for an impromptu pick-up game with the boys. As he turned to leave, they offered the ball to him. As well as he could, he explained that the ball was for them, and they were astounded and then overjoyed. As he told me the story, he explained that he would never have thought to do this had it not been for the Charity Ball World Tour. It was one of the highlights of his whole trip.

CharityBall_Ghana

The last experience I want to share reminded me of Ethan’s first experience gifting a soccer ball. When I was in Ghana, I had an amazing opportunity to travel with Agua, a company that uses plants to create drinkable water. We went to Obo, a rural village along the shores of Lake Bosumtwi which is a meteorite-impact crater, stretching 5 miles wide, the largest natural lake in Ghana. Fifty thousand people live around Lake Bosumtwi in about 30 different villages. We chose Obo simply because it was the first village we came to off of the major road. The purpose of the expedition was to run tests on the lake water, speak with townspeople of the health problems related to the water, and become a part of the community for a few days.

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On the first night after dinner at the Lake-Point Guesthouse, we decided to go “into town.” It was dark, and we used small flashlights to light our way down a dirt road. Sure enough, after a 10 minute walk, we came upon the only street light in Obo around which students were studying for their exams, adults were working, and kids were playing soccer. It was the only light in town. I befriended the children and started kicking around the small “ball” with them, only to realize after about 5 minutes that we were playing with a very beat up lemon!

The next day, I accompanied the Agua team to a meeting with the mayor and council of Obo. Agua was given permission to run tests on the water, and I was given permission to make a gift of balls to the two schools of Obo. We immediately headed to the first school where I made a presentation to the children and their teachers. When I explained that the balls I was carrying were to be left for them, a roar of cheers went up. In Obo, I experienced the true power of the Charity Ball World Tour. The night before, I had played soccer for hours with old lemons that had fallen from a nearby tree. I played the only soccer that the children of Obo have ever played. Now the children had quality soccer balls and pumps that should last for years – or at least a lot longer than citrus fruit!

The balls that Charity Ball let me bring around the world changed the lives of many. They brought SAS students closer to those we were visiting. They knocked down the barriers of language and allowed us to experience cultures as friends rather than foreigners. The balls brought us together as one team, playing not for a win, but for the love of the game. The love that was spread through Charity Ball will undoubtedly live on. While Charity Ball keeps playing it forward, the world will be a happier place.

Huge thanks to Tom and his team for the great work. Our world needs more people like you.

CharityBall_Morocco

Charity Ball and Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic Team Up to Help Kids in Africa

Mocimboa Da Praia, Mozambique
Four and a half months of hard work and preparation finally paid off.

After spending a week and a half in Mozambique hand delivering over 1000 pieces of new Adidas soccer gear (including 500 soccer balls) hosting a skills training clinic, installing a new water well for a village and organizing a regional youth soccer tournament, I realized the PLAY [well] Cup project had been a success. With the help of some amazing people, we were able to create a once in a lifetime opportunity for many poverty-stricken kids in Mozambique.

First of all, I’d like to say thanks to the crew who traveled to Africa and helped make the project happen. These guys are amazing.

  • Dan Covert and Andre Andreev, owners of Dress Code, a design production firm out of New York City specializes in motion graphics, video production, and branding & design. Dan and Andre are two incredible guys who work so well together. They are encouraging and also share a monster passion for soccer.
  • Veronica Balta, a freelance producer out of New York who met the Dress Code guys when they all worked together at MTV a few years ago. She is highly organized and super sweet. If you ever need someone to get something done really fast, and you want it to look cool, she’s the girl.
  • Adam McDaid, the master camera man. Adam is a dedicated cinematographer and actually helped film Indiana Jones: The Crystal Skull. Jade and I were both jazzed to have Adam along on the trip and capturing the project.
  • Randy Krallman, AKA Randog, commercial/film director and soccer fanatic who has a great sense of humor. The fact that the only pair of shoes that he brought to Africa was a pair of Van’s says it all.
  • Ian Allen, the calm, collected photographer from San Francisco and owner of Ian Allen Photography. When you see his shots you’re going to be blown away. His luggage was lost on the way to Africa and he managed to survive without a complaint.
  • Neven Subotic, professional soccer player for Borussia Dortmund and founder of the Neven Subotic Foundation is one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet! Just the fact that he was with us, sharing the beautiful game with less fortunate kids, shows how big his heart really is. He is super confident, and believes in himself which allows him to be one of the best defenders in the world. Neven is awesome.
  • Bogdan Ivanovic, AKA Bobo is a great dude. So encouraging, so positive, and so fun to hang out with, he should have his own talk show. The trip wouldn’t have been the same if he wasn’t around. Bobo helps give leadership to the Neven Subotic Foundation.
  • Brent Kowalski is my coach, trainer and founder of Heart Soccer Academy. Brent is passionate, organized and likes to get the job done. He works hard and spends a lot of time creating unique training environments so young players can grow.
  • Samuel Tinho and Jose Nsuca, the PLAY [well] cup coordinators on the ground. Both Tinho and Jose provided the in country connections, leadership and translation. We couldn’t have done it without these guys.

PLAY [well] Team in Mozambique

Prior to the semi-finals, Neven, the team and I, accompanied by the president of Mocimboa da Praia, hand delivered dozens of balls to kids in appointed schools and villages. Neven would show some of the teachers and leaders how to inflate and deflate the balls and we’d take turns giving a little speech to the kids. The children loved it.
Soccer ball delivery, Mozambique, Charity Ball

For two days we hosted a soccer clinic for all the teams that participated in the tourney. Brent and Neven ran the clinics and Jaden and I helped. To see Neven and Brent teaching the basics of soccer to the kids was fantastic. If anyone deserves to learn to kick or head a ball from a professional player, it’s these kids. Most of them don’t have parents or even their own shoes.
PLAY [well] training clinic, Mozambique, Neven Subotic, Brent Kowalski

The Tournament was called the PLAY [well] Cup because the goal in soccer is to play well. In order to play well, you need to have quality equipment, skills, an understanding of the game, and good health. One of the ways to help kids stay healthy is by providing access to clean, safe water. So installing a brand new water well with Vox United made sense. So that’s what we did. The new well below is the only contained, clean water access point for the village (about 7000 people). More wells are needed.
new water access point, Mozambique, Charity Ball, Vox United, Neven Subotic Foundation

The semifinals and finals were unbelievable. Not sure what the final numbers were, but my guess was about 3000 people showed up for the closing game of the tournament. At the finals the atmosphere was electric. People were cheering and blowing vuvuzelas. There were ceremonies, presentations, traditional African singing and dancing, and the players took the field like professionals. The players were really engaged and took the competition seriously. You could tell that it meant a lot to them.
PLAY [well] Cup Finals, MozambiquePLAY [well] tournament final, MozambiqueEthan_playwellcup-9622

The two finalist teams were both from the Milamba village, and Milamba #1 was victorious, winning 1-0. Once the final whistle was blown hundreds of fans rushed the field. The crowd got so thick on the field that you could hardly move!
Charity Ball, Play [well] Cup in Mozambique

In a matter of time, all of the participating teams lined up on the field for the awards and presentations. None of the players were aware that they were about to receive their own new Adidas soccer kit and ball. When the gear came out and we began to present it, the kids went ballistic. Nothing like this had ever happened in Mocimboa da Praia. The best moment of the tournament was when I was given the honor to present the cup to the winning team. I watched Neven gather with the guys and jump up and down in celebration, it was magical!
PLAY [well] Cup, Mozambique, Ethan King, Neven Subotic

I was asked by the guys at Dress Code what the best part of the project was. I told them that the best part was when we were leaving town and we saw village after village with the kids wearing their new jersies and playing with their new soccer balls.

The whole mission of Charity Ball is helping kids in poverty stricken communities have a ball. That’s exactly what we did with this PLAY [well] Cup project. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Will I do it again? Stay tuned…

A video documentary and a book about Charity Ball is currently in the works. We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

Special thanks to Play Well Cup sponsors

One Good Thing: Matt Langdon

The Hero Report is a weekly online video podcast on the subject of heroism. Matt Langdon is the host and the founder of the Hero Construction Company. He recently used his show to do an interview with Jade and me on Charity Ball and the Play [well] Cup. Here’s a link: http://vimeo.com/63109801

I asked Matt if he would return the favor and put together a little post for Charity Ball on giving back. Here’s what he sent over…

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It is often used as a motivating quote. He tells us that to achieve success we just have to start working on it.

It is also a good reminder that that anyone you see doing big things also started with one step. It’s easy to imagine the players we see in the Premier League got there through some freakish gene or luck. It’s not true – they all started with a single step. The world’s biggest singers and movie stars had to take a first step. One step can change your life – or the lives of others.

Ethan took one step four years ago. He gave away his soccer ball. It was an easy thing to do. For him, it was something he barely considered worthy of a second thought. But this single step led to a long journey; one that sees him organizing a soccer tournament in Africa, providing balls to thousands of kids around the world, and befriending an international soccer star. The journey that began with that step has inspired many others, including his brother and you (and me).

It could have been very different. Ethan could have just left Africa on his plane and never looked back. Many ten year olds would have done that. But he chose to do one good thing. Often, one good thing is all it takes to change someone’s life. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget that in the hustle bustle of our own lives.

Ethan’s story reminds us to look for the opportunities around us. It reminds us that we all have the power to do good. And it reminds us that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Shout out to Matt for all the encouraging and positive remarks. Matt has invited me to be one of the speakers at the Hero Round Table Conference this November. Looking forward to it. Be sure to check it out at http://www.heroroundtable.com/speakers/

E

The Charity Ball Classic

A few weeks back Jack Andrews hosted a soccer tournament in Iowa to support Charity Ball. He and his team played in the tourney and sported some Charity Ball Tees to raise awareness. I asked him to write up a quick overview of the event. Here’s what Jack had to say…

My name is Jack Andrews; I am from England and currently play soccer and go to school at AIB College of Business in Des Moines, Iowa. I am always trying to find ways to give back through soccer. When I found Charity Ball, I knew I could help in someway.

On April 27, I organized a small indoor soccer tournament in the name of Charity Ball to raise awareness for what a great job Ethan is doing as well as his family and friends. We had 6 teams from around Iowa competing in the tourney. There were 2 groups of 3, the winners of each group went to a final and the winner was crowned.

It was a great event and by providing T-shirts, flyers and stickers to the participants, I feel we raised great awareness for the kids who need it the most. A big thanks goes out to Carlos Acebey who is the Coach of Waukee Soccer Club in Iowa for getting the location sorted out, Lexy Rees (Utah) and Emma Barber (Iowa) for the tournament photos and organization. I would also like to thank Marc Hill, Jacob Richards, Nicky Poulter, Scott Jumeaux and Darren Marcelo for representing Charity Ball.

Jack, thanks for helping support Charity Ball and raising more awareness for kids around the world who are unable to play the beautiful game with a real, quality soccer ball.

If you would like to host a Charity Ball tournament in your community, drop us an email or tweet and we’ll help you get it organized.

Making it More Beautiful: Guatemala

Lindsay Weber spent some time in Guatemala this past February. Thanks to Brian Dunseth, Ben Hooper & Co, she first came across Charity Ball through a post on the The Original Winger. I’ll let her share the rest of the story…

In February 2013 I set out for my fourth annual trip to Guatemala. I travel with a team that is part medical, part construction. The year prior I had played soccer every day on our site with two little boys, brothers. I noticed over the years that most kids play with makeshift balls, either old and deflated or made of thin plastic and the size of a grapefruit. That year I spent $10 to get the two boys a real leather ball from a nearby market. The gift to them was such a prized possession that they went to hide their ball in a safe place instead of playing with it! When I returned home I looked into bringing more balls with me the next time and that is how I came across Charity Ball.

I ended up making space for 10 balls in my personal luggage. I tagged along with the construction crew on the day they were visiting a 4 classroom school in a rural village. We traveled up a winding dirt road to be met by jubilant children dressed in the traditional Mayan clothing. We installed stoves and water filters, played soccer and basketball with the minimal equipment they had, and enjoyed a dance performance they put on.

We finished the day with my presentation and I had kept the balls in a large black bag to keep it a surprise. By the time I pulled out the first ball I was completely swarmed. I felt like Santa at Christmas! The kids were all smiles and laughter and pickup games broke out in the courtyard right away. I included a pump and extra needles for maintenance and the teachers of the school expressed their gratitude. When we left, the kids rang alongside our bus and waved us off all the way out of the gate.

This kind of experience is just as rewarding when you’re on the giving end as it is for those receiving a gift. The country of Guatemala is so incredibly poor and yet the people are so resilient. Something as simple as a ball really can spread joy. It truly is the beautiful game, in more ways than one.

Lindsay, way to go. Thanks for sharing the beautiful game with others. Let us know when you’re going back and well set you up with some more balls.

E

FC Barcelona Camp: Youth Soccer

I’ve got huge respect for Barcelona FC. As a matter of fact, my room back at my old house was actually themed out in Barcelona colors. You can imagine how excited I was when the guys who represent their youth camp reached out to us. As a matter of fact, the official Barcelona Camp is now an official sponsor of Charity Ball and the Play [well] Cup Tournament in Mozambique. I got with the guys recently and asked if they would be willing to drop a guest post on the Charity Ball Blog. Here’s what they put together…

When we heard about Ethan’s commitment to giving kids around the world the chance to play soccer, we knew we needed to get involved. We are the Official FC Barcelona Soccer Camp, and we love soccer and what it does for kids — not only athletically, but in terms of understanding what it means to be a member of a team, learning to compete hard but fairly, and being able to have fun while working towards a goal. We grew up with a soccer ball our feet, and Ethan’s dedication to giving that opportunity to as many less-fortunate children as possible is inspiring. We see some incredible players come through our camps, but what I find amazing is that the best players come from many different backgrounds — rich and poor, from every corner of the world. By giving the opportunity to play with a real soccer ball to as many people as possible, Ethan is an example to all of us who want to see the game we love grow, as well as those of us who grew up with a ball at our feet.

If you looking for a specialized soccer camp to take your skills to the next level, be sure to check out the website.

Més que un club!

-E