Monday, July 21, 2014

Blog Update by Leslie: Post World Cup Blues

The World Cup 2014 has sadly come to an end. All of the drama from this year's tournament emotionally drained me to the point where I felt sluggish and empty for a solid week as I realized one of the best moments of the decade has passed. The days following the World Cup, I monitored the news every hour to see if anything soccer related would pop up, and then I'd realize that the tournament was over and I still had 9 hours of work to do. This was the worst emotional hangover since I read the last Harry Potter book.
What was I going to do with my time? What will I talk about with strangers? Will I ever wear my USA, Germany, and Argentina jerseys again (I will not tell you which jersey I wore during the final... let's just say, it did not bring the team any luck...). 
 
LUCKILY the FIFA Women's World Cup will be in full force this time next year, so I will have an excellent excuse to wear my USA jersey and watch soccer for a solid month straight without any shame (thank you, all mighty soccer Gods). As I'm sitting here in my room writing at 10:55 on a Sunday night, I am posed with the question: who will win it this time around? Germany won in 2003 and 2007, while Japan won the last World Cup. Will Germany play like their male counterparts and destroy every team in their wake? Or, will the USA carry this year's fan's momentum into the World Cup and win their first championship since 1999? These are very serious questions people. I highly encourage that you ponder this question whole heartedly and watch as many qualifying games as humanly possible. 
Many of the next qualifying rounds will take place in October and November, so it will be interesting to see what players make it on the roster, what players start, who the stand-outs are, etc. If you just so happen to see me during this time, don't be surprised if I'm taking detailed notes about each player and each team, as I'm sure I will be competing in another World Cup bracket (I got second place in this year's World Cup Bracket Challenge, I have a reputation to uphold). 
 
Cheer for your country's team, partake in your country's rivalries (always makes the games more competitive, and therefore more enjoyable), and spread the soccer cheer for all around! The best of luck to the USA team this year. My ego is riding on you winning, so don't let me down! 
 
Posted by Leslie

Monday, July 7, 2014

A new week, a new game.

At the age of ten, we were told that watching one professional soccer game a week would make our
game better. Unfortunately, I did not adopt this advice until I was 22 years old and my college days
had come to an end. But once I began watching teams like Barcelona, Arsenal, and Manchester City, I
realized that my skill level, field awareness, creativity, and overall confidence in my decisions increased.

As the 2014 World Cup has finally reached the semi-finals, this advice has never been easier to adopt. Watching the greats play for the pride of their home country can come in handy when you want to learn a new move, practice your first touch, perfect your final shot; you name it, and watching the likes of Christine Sinclair, Homare Sawa, and Abby Wambach, will do wonders for your performance.

Do you want to emulate Messi’s goal in the 91st like to try in your next game? Learning these new skills can be accomplished by following some very easy steps:

  1. Go to youtube.com to pull up whatever highlight you’d like to learn. 
  2. Watch the video repeatedly until you have memorized every minor technique and movement.  After watching the video, you should be able to dream about it. 
  3. Grab your soccer ball and one of your girlfriends and go outside! It’s the summer time; time to take advantage of the beautiful weather and practice to become the next Marta or Alex Morgan. 
Becoming good at soccer is hard and it takes a lot of time and determination. If you have the will power and the ambition to accomplish your goals, the entire world can open up to you, and not just in the soccer community.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Introducing our new Goals for Girls Blogger: Leslie Cabe

Goals for Girls is really excited to announce the newest member of our team! Leslie Cabe will be the lead Goals for Girls Blogger!!!
 

About Leslie:
 
Leslie Cabe is from Nothern Virginia and has been a lifelong lover of soccer, playing for her high school and college, as well as her national finalist club team. Leslie has been able to travel to Germany with her Olympic Development Program team and to Brazil with her college team to promote the opportunities that soccer can give to a player. She is an avid Barcelona FC fan, enjoys playing with her co-ed indoor and outdoor teams, and traveling the world.  Currently, Leslie works for a consulting company supporting the public sector.

Goals for Girls Clinic at Santa Clara University

On May 24, Goals for Girls traveled to California for a soccer clinic at Santa Clara University with US women's soccer icons Cindy Parlow, Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, and Ally Wagner.

Brandi, Cindy, Leslie, Ally
 

The clinic was an incredible success thanks to these (and others) wonderful people that volunteered their time!!

Poster showing Goals for Girls trips in the past.


1 v 1 with Brandi Chastain
Soccer in Slow Motion joined us, and lead technical sessions with the girls!


At the end of the clinic, we had the girls "ditch their shoes and balls" to play like girls play in the developing world...shoeless, and with makeshift balls.

Barefoot soccer




 
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT HELPED MAKE THIS DAY SUCH A SUCCESS!!!!!
 
**Pictures taken by Solheim Photography:  www.solheimphotography.com

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Goals for Girls coming to Santa Clara, California!!

Goals for Girls is coming to California!! We will be holding a soccer clinic at Santa Clara University on May 24 from 9am-noon with Olympian and US Women's National Team Players including Aly Wagner, Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow, and Leslie Osborne! This clinic is open to girls ages 5-15 years of age. If you, or someone you know plays soccer, we would love for you to join us!!! And please....spread the word! It will be a great opportunity to learn about the work we do all over the world with disadvantaged girls your same age, as well as meet some US women's soccer icons and meet new friends. All proceeds that we bring in through this clinic will go towards Goals for Girls projects that will focus on empowering young girls through soccer. 


Find the registration form here: http://adobe.ly/NfbfSD. It will answer most of your questions. If you are able to make it, don't forget to bring your soccer ball and a water bottle. If you have any additional questions, I would love to answer them for you. Feel free to reach me at jackierskinner@gmail.com.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sarah's Reflection on her experience in India with Goals for Girls

This reflection was written by Sarah Furth:



There hasn't been a day since I got back that multiple memories from India have crossed my thoughts. The trip was so incredibly amazing and beautiful and exceeded all my expectations. It has been about three weeks since we returned to Portland and I am still overwhelmed with everything I was fortunate enough to experience with the Goals for Girls program. Not until I got home was I able to completely digest what had just happened. The emotions that I felt during those two weeks are still so raw in my mind. India was a humbling and rewarding experience beyond any words.  I have laughed, cried, and smiled as I have reflected on the trip. The first week in India was spent at the Rising Star campus in Kanchipuram. Rising Star is  like a boarding school, mainly one that reaches out to kids whose families are affected by leprosy.

The girls from Rising Star broke the walls we (the American girls) had up. As the week progressed, were all laughing, holding hands, telling jokes, playing soccer, exchanging stories, and learning from each other. We were able to go out into a leprosy colony and help a mobile clinic treat the patients. We helped build a road, named Goals for Girls Avenue, on the campus for the new medical building and planted banana plants, eggplants, and peppers in the fields. We participated in countless life skills activities with the girls. We tie­dyed t­shirts, made color team flags, competed in a mini­ Olympics, and learned traditional Indian dances. Conversations about goal setting, the future, and self­confidence were frequent. Each of the girls had big dreams of becoming a doctor, PE teacher, or a part of the police force. And I hope each of then beats the stigma associated with leprosy and fulfills her dreams. They all have the skills to do it.            

We scrimmaged a boys’ soccer team called Pathways from another nearby non­profit organization. Girls versus boys. Not something that is necessarily expected in India. Every afternoon consisted of soccer. We taught the girls basic dribbling, passing, and shooting through our own organized clinics. We later did the same for the other kids at the school. The younger kids would grab me and ask my name, where I was from, what my family was like, what we were doing at Rising Star...ask to take a picture.  I can still see their smiling, curious, innocent faces. So much The girls we worked with were teaching the other kids how to play soccer. They were telling me how they were going to start playing with the boys. They all had changed so much within the week, growing more confident in their soccer skills and their desire to be heard. I shared
 my experiences in front of the entire Rising Star School on the day we left. This was by far one of the most overwhelming, beautiful, emotional, and empowering weeks of my life.

Next stop was Bangalore. The main event was a soccer clinic in the middle of the city. We partnered with several programs, the main one Dream A Dream that does similar life skills trainings with many schools throughout Bangalore. There was no grass on the field, just dusty dirt. But it was decorated with circus­like banners around the field and was prepared to host about 500 people. Ian and Cindy ran a coaches clinic in the morning and we demonstrated as the team being Girls from all the schools began arriving in their team uniforms. We did large group life skills activities. The Oregon and North Carolina girls were divided into groups and paired to play with an Indian team. The cement bleachers were packed with other students, boys and girls. The round robin tournament began. My team, the Sparkling Rainbows, made it to the final game. My team had played a little soccer before, but I we played in more games with them and won, it was obvious they wanted to win. They all absorbed what I suggested they do on the field. We didn't win, but it was amazing to be a part of this city tournament for the long, hot day. It was a really big deal for Dream A Dream, and my adrenaline didn't stop until dinner time.

We also visited a microfinance business in Bangalore, Janalakshmi, that gives loans specifically to women so they can start their own businesses. In groups, we were taken out into the field. My group went to a women's home in a Muslim community. We were able to go inside the house (6 by 7ft single room) and ask the smiling women and her daughter all about her business, which was selling the traditional Indian night dress to local women. All the neighbors came to see us, let us hold their babies, and told us more about the women's business. That is one thing I love about the Indian culture; the sense of family in a community. Everyone is so kind and welcoming and they will share what little they have with you.


Delhi was the final destination and we geared up for more soccer.  The main partners in Delhi were Anglian Football, CEQUIN, and YUWA. The first day we hosted a soccer clinic at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. This beautiful facility recently upgraded for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. With the Shakira Africa song playing in the background, it felt like an Olympic Stadium. The fog gave way to rays of sunshine as we set up the field and girls began to hop off the busses and pour into the stadium, lace up their cleats, and run onto the field ready to play. We ran different stations, working with girls of all ages to teach them a fun little game or a new move. We later divided into teams and scrimmaged each other. I met a girl who plays for the Indian youth national team. She has been to Sri Lanka twice and Europe to play. Overall, it was a very successful day.            

YUWA is a program that was started by a man, Franz Gansler, from Minnesota. He has been living in India for the last 5 years. YUWA is using soccer to combat human trafficking, female illiteracy, and child marriage in Jarkhand, India's most corrupt area. Franz and Rose had brought twenty two girls on a 48 hour train ride across India to come play soccer with the American girls. And were they quite the soccer players. They practice every day on the small field they have. They had never played on a regular soccer field before but you never would have guessed by the way they played together. Franz is hoping to bring the team to the United States next summer to play. We spent some more time with the YUWA girls later away from the soccer We attended an ICRW conference with other non­profit organizations that are working to empower women in India. The conference was mainly for Goals for Girls to share what we were doing. I was on a panel with several other girls that spoke about what we had experienced, what we had gained from playing soccer for so long, and how the game compared for girls in India. This was a really professional experience and it was neat to talk with these other business people about the work they were doing.

The final day was a tournament day back at the stadium before bittersweet goodbyes to everyone, especially the YUWA girls, who we had grown so close to in a matter of three days. As Ian writes, “When you peel back the superficial layers that make these American and Indian girls different, you find countless similarities between them; one in particular was the joy the game of soccer brings.”

 We were all changed in drastic ways. We toppled our walls and allowed ourselves to be completely open to all the beautiful chaos India has to offer. I had no idea how or if I was even going to be able to make a difference in a girl's life in such a short period of time, but now I know I did. I had to step out of my comfort zone at first, but within the first week it felt natural to be speaking in front of everyone, demonstrating a drill, or sharing my memories from the day. I was simply myself and I tried my best to lead by example. The movement I was able to be a part of with Goals for Girls that changed the lives of many Indian girls, and in return, changed my own.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for Goals for Girls and everyone who made this trip possible. The way the west coast and east coast girls came together during this trip was pretty cool. We didn't know each other at all but that initial awkward, shy feeling quickly changed to a sister feeling. We faced these uncomfortable situations together and were so focused on making the Indian girls feel individual and loved. And by doing so, we were able to gain new perspectives on life. I can watch a documentary about the struggles girls face in developing countries, but to physically become immersed in a country and its people and to talk with girls my age who have a much rougher life than I do, was almost unreal. I was inspired by each girl's strength, grace, and determination to take control of her own life and set high goals for her future. You'll never know how far you can go unless you try. I am not saying it lightly when I say that this was truly the greatest life changing experiences of my life. And I will never forget it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Goals for Girls Founder/President Perspective: Ian Oliver

The fog was heavy early the first morning we were at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. This beautiful facility recently upgraded for the 2010 Commonwealth Games sat quiet, empty, imposing but welcoming as the American and Indian girls exited the bus and headed up the long entrance stairs. As we set up equipment for the clinic, as all the partner organizations exchanged early morning pleasantries, and as the girls started to warm-up and shake off the cool morning, the fog began to lift from within the giant bowl of the arena, slowly making its way over the pillars in the far corner that pointed towards the sky. The start to the day couldn’t have been more perfectly scripted as the fog made way for rays of sunshine and team after team of young Indian girls eagerly made their way to the field for a full day of soccer with these special visitors from afar.





India is a land of beautiful chaos. Somehow through unwritten rules millions of people, bikes, motorcycles, cars, trucks, dogs, and cows make their way through the cities. With over a thousand political parties, over a thousand languages, and countless subcultures, nothing is simple or done in a small way.

Similarly, the challenges young girls face in India are numerous and complex. But what we saw was a new generation of Indian girls with greater expectations for what their futures will hold. When you peel back the superficial layers that make these American and Indian girls different, you find countless similarities between them; one in particular was the joy the game of soccer brings.


Soccer is poised to grow rapidly in India which will soon become one of the world’s largest markets for the sport. As we ran clinics and tournaments it was clear that there is demand for more of this beautiful game across the country. Whether as a tool to improve lives of young people, a recreational activity, or a high-level competitive pursuit, the attraction to the game was strong.

In particular we saw the beginning of what could be one of the most transformative cultural phenomena for girls in India. It is easy to take for granted how much this game has done for all who play it here in the U.S., but to see the immediate positive impact the game has on a young girl in India is priceless. In such a short time we were able to bring out a whole different side of the girls we worked with, all through the simple gift of soccer.

I have read all the beautiful words of this year’s team and coaches. I feel honored to have spent this time with them, watching them and all of us grow together through each interaction and experience. And I can’t help thinking about that one morning at the stadium and what it represented. Out of two weeks of sun-up to sun-down activities, logistics, briefings & debriefings, interviews, clinics, events, and visits…after an incredibly successful program with so many independently wonderful and powerful moments…that one morning, with so many magnificent metaphors, brought into focus for me what Goals for Girls India was all about.

Watching the teams of young girls arrive at the stadium like a pilgrimage, drawn to the excitement that awaited within gave me hope that this next generation of Indian girls are driven to pursue brighter futures. And that fog lifting was like clearing the air of uncertainty and bringing into focus their collective goals, both on and off the field. As these young girls eagerly laced up their shoes in Kancheepuram, Bangalore, and Delhi, we saw the power of the game to motivate, inspire, and make change.

One day soon I know I will be back in India and when I return to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the players stepping off the bus will be a top Indian women’s team arriving for a match, headphones on to block the nearly unbearable noise from the 60,000 fans cheering their entrance, and ready to inspire the next generation of girls there to watch.

Monday, January 20, 2014

G4G Coach's Perspective: Danielle Foxhoven

Months ago when I was first asked to be the "professional player" representative for the 2013 Goals for Girls trip to India I was really only interested because India has been at the top of my bucket list since I can remember. But that exclamation point was quickly followed by a lot of question marks because I didnt know if I wanted to be a chaperone to a group of 17 year old girls (most of whom have never travelled out of the US) in a country that even some of the most travelled people struggle to be in. The decision took me a few weeks of debating to come to the conclusion that I did in fact want to go to India as a part of Goals for Girls.

As this trip was approaching I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was fresh off a two month trip doing similar nonprofit work in Africa. The difference was that in Africa I only had to watch out for myself. But I was now responsible for all of these girls who had no idea how to travel. We were all nervous, unfamiliar with each other and completely out of our comfort zones. And now that the trip is over, the loud noises of India have left my ears and I have had some time to reflect I have found many things that I appreciated from the trip. And when I say appreciated, I mean, I have found some things that have truly become a part of me and have changed me. 

I am going to preface this with a bit about myself... growing up I was a part of the youth national teams. I was always on the brink of being on the roster and being cut. I was always so excited to be going into camp because I knew I could play with them, but when I thought about having to be a part of the team I was scared to death. I was so self conscience about who I was and felt so uncomfortable around all of these super confident girls. It was my biggest struggle and the reason why I probably didnt reach my goals with the youth national teams. Realizing this weakness and dealing with it through college has been a real ride and has paid great dividends to the person I am now. 

I tell you this about myself because meeting everyone at the airport and taking off to India brought me back to those national team camps. Only a few of the girls were familiar with each other, some were friends. We were coming from all over the country and we were completely unsure of what the next two weeks possessed for us. The first week I was in charge of the green team and in the room we were staying in it was almost silent. No one spoke, everyone was shy and pretty reserved. I knew exactly how all of them felt. I knew the uncomfortable feeling they were all experiencing, and although I tried to bring up the mood of the household, I knew it would take time to break through the walls we all had up. 

But the girls at Rising Star took over that role and broke down all of the walls that our American girls had up. By the end of the week our girls and the Indian girls were holding hands, hugging, playing soccer and laughing. The group of our American girls, east and west coast were a real team... a group of friends laughing, exchanging stories and making memories together. We did things none of us were comfortable doing before coming to India. But we were all in the uncomfortable situations together and that grew a huge bond. I know we all went to the India with the idea that we would be changing the lives of the Indian girls, bringing soccer to them... but what happened to our group of girls was equally as impacting, equally as amazing. 

Over the next week after leaving Rising Star Outreach program the group just continued to grow more and more comfortable with each other and with the uncomfortableness of India. The group was truly an incredible group. I dont say it lightly when I say it was the most pleasant and amazing group of girls that I have ever worked with. I got to talk to and know every single one of them and I cant say enough amazing things about all of them. This trip came at a pivotal moment in their lives because as they all go off to college they will have a new perspective about the world and how they can change it. And I cant wait to see what they will do in the future, because I know its going to be amazing. 

As I said going into this trip I was selfishly excited to go to India but I was nervous about taking care of these girls. I knew we were going to be changing the lives of a lot of Indians, but I had no idea the kind of changes I was going to be experiencing. Not only did the work we did with the Indians change both their lives and our lives, but I got to watch our American girls see how they were changing the Indians lives and in return were being changed. I was equally as affected by both the Indian girls and our American girls. We were all changed in drastic ways. We allowed ourselves to be open and experience India to the fullest and that gave us all new perspectives. That is the most positive influence you can ever make for someone.  

I cant express my gratitude and appreciation for Goals for Girls and everyone who was a part of it. It was truly one of the best and most life changing experiences of my life. One I will never forget. 



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

G4G Coach's Perspective: Cindy Parlow-Cone

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning (thanks jetlag!), I have ample time to reflect on all the amazing people we met in India, the caring people in the organizations that we met, and the significant impact our group made in such a short period of time. More than anything I am struck by how beautiful India and its people are. A theme throughout our time in India, and the question that I put to our girls nightly was, “What did you see or experience today that was beautiful?” The answers ranged from something as simple as a smile, a gesture, or a kind word. As we continued our travels the awareness of each of us grew to the beauty in the world and its people, and we were all amazed at how easy it is to find the beautiful. While I had so many beautiful moments during this trip, I came home with four indelible experiences.

First, I’ve always felt that the greatest gift you can give the world is changing a child’s life for the better; this over the course of the past two weeks, I witnessed girls’ lives changing before my eyes. I watched girls gain self-confidence, learn to work as a team, find their voice, understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, learn goal-setting skills, and realize that they are important and impactful. There is nothing more beautiful than watching a child come to the realization that they are special, have tremendous potential, and are impactful in others’ lives.

Two, if you focus on positively impacting someone else’s life the exchange will inevitably change your life for the better. While our focus on the trip was to impact young Indian girls’ lives through soccer, I was amazed at the transformation that took place within the Americans as well. I watched the American girls grow into more confident, insightful, engaging, and empowering leaders as they realized that their age wasn’t a barrier to and that they were capable of impacting someone’s life. It was beautiful watching our girls grow more empowered directly through their work trying to empower others. We quickly became aware that we were learning as much from the Indians we worked with, if not more, than we taught them.

Three, I was continually taken aback at the time and care the Indians take into making the simplest of things beautiful. As I think about my life, and how I am often rushing from one activity, exercise, assignment or event to another, while I always want to do a great job, I am rarely concerned with how beautiful I make something look. The Indians on the other hand are amazing in the great pride they take in turning simple objects, assignments, and events into something absolutely beautiful. You can see this as you scroll through the photos of the trip.

Four, less is more! Comparatively, we Americans have a lot of “stuff,” certainly much, much more than the Indian people that we worked with. I became aware that there was little concern or want for something they didn’t have, only the pride and enthusiasm in what they have. The most important “thing” to them is family. This was evident in everything they did. While we all understand the importance of family, in the fast-paced world in which we live, it seems this is often too easily forgotten or taken for granted. The Indians taught me a new respect and appreciation for the importance of family.

This trip was an exceptional experience in my life for many reasons. I need to give a special thanks to Ian, Jackie, Dani, Amit, and all the girls on the trip for making this adventure so inspiring and fun. I absolutely love Goals for Girls because I get to see the immediate and long-term effects that it has on everyone who is involved!