#FútbolSoccer: Stories Beyond the Ball

FC Harlem’s Irv Smalls and Roj Rodriguez participate in an event hosted by WNYC/NJPR.

Watch the Full Event Here:


Source: The Greene Space youtube

Description:

Fútbol lovers will delight this June when Copa Centenario, a month-long gathering of the best fútbol soccer national teams in the Americas, begins in the United States.

Before the likes of Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar travel north to play in stadiums across the U.S., we explored the game of soccer and how it is disrupting the American sports landscape with a night of storytelling and conversation on May 26.

Colombian-American World Cup player and coach Carlos Llamosa, FC Harlem executive director Irv Smalls, sports writer Jessica Lopez and youth sports advocate Ana Sameke shared their personal tales of how they came of age in the U.S. with soccer. The evening is co-hosted by WNYC/NJPR reporter Sarah González and sports journalist Gustavo Martínez Contreras.

About the Presenters

Carlos Llamosa is an assistant coach with the New York Cosmos. He immigrated to the United States in 1991 after playing five years of professional soccer in his native Colombia. Once an American citizen, he played in 29 matches for the United States National Team between 1998 and 2002, including the 2002 World Cup victories over Portugal and Mexico.

Irv Smalls is the executive director of FC Harlem, which offers intramural and recreational leagues for boys and girls. Through its Leaders In Our Neighborhoods (L.I.O.N.S), a soccer and leadership program for the children of immigrants in Harlem, FC Harlem strives to improve personal outcomes for youth.

Jessica Lopez is a sports writer for Remezcla and team liason officer for U.S. Soccer Federation. Curious about the intersections of sport, history and culture, her passion for using the beautiful game to raise hope and build relationships with people from all over the world has taken her from Ohio to Belgium, Madrid, Nicaragua, the Guyanese and Colombian National Teams and beyond.

Ana Sameke is a recent immigrant from Mali. When she arrived in New York, she had hoped to play soccer but attended a high school where no sports were offered. She helped organize a student movement to fight for access to sports in New York City’s small schools. She is now attending Antioch College in Ohio.

About the Moderators

Sarah González is the northern New Jersey enterprise reporter for WNYC and NJPR. Her investigative and feature reporting has received national awards by the Education Writer’s Association, SPJ Sigma Delta Chi and PRNDI, and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

Gustavo Martínez Contreras is a Mexican-American sports journalist and at-large officer of National Association of Hispanic Journlists’ New York City chapter. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista, Spot.us, among others. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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Chase: Get Your Kicks: Bringing Soccer to an Overlooked Community

Below is an edited version of an original article published on Chase News
Click here to read the original post.

Get Your Kicks: Bringing Soccer to an Overlooked Community

Written By: Danielle Elliot

Credit: chase.com

Chase is a sponsor of the FC Harlem LIONS (Leaders In Our Neighborhoods) soccer club. As part of this sponsorship, funds from Chase and other sponsors will contribute towards creating the first covered soccer field in Harlem to help FC Harlem provide year-round youth programming. The covered field project has broken ground and is expected to be completed by September 2016.

In 2010, the FC Harlem boys’ soccer team drove from New York City to Chicago to compete in a national championship tournament. It was the first time many of the team members had left the New York area, packed for a trip, or stayed in a hotel. As they explored downtown Chicago, they were noticed in their maroon and gold club jackets with the custom-designed lion and shield logo on their chests.

A few of the boys told the organization’s executive director, Irv Smalls, that they felt famous, that they felt important. They’d gone to Chicago for the competition, but came home with so much more.

Founded in 1991 as Harlem Youth Soccer, the organization has expanded immensely under Smalls’ guidance. “Sport is the draw to bring them in, but [our program] is really mentoring,” he said. “It’s talking about giving back, exposing kids to more opportunities.”

Smalls, a former tight end for the 1994-95 undefeated and Rose Bowl Champs, Penn State Nittany Lions, grew up thinking soccer was corny. That changed when he watched the 2002 World Cup. “Soccer looked like life to me. … It was actually up and down, working with your teammates when it’s 0-0, coming back out to win the game,” he said. “It’s hard work. It’s working with other people.”

From Football to Soccer

After seven years working at Major League Soccer, he made the jump to Harlem Youth Soccer. He spent hours walking around the community at first, seeking an empty patch of concrete that he could potentially convert into a soccer field. The process raised plenty of eyebrows.

“My own community was like, ‘What are you up to? We don’t play soccer. You’re trying to change the neighborhood. You’re coming here in your suit, trying to change the community,'” he said.

When Smalls heard the name FC Harlem was part of the club’s early identity, he had the name officially changed. The next step in the rebranding was a new logo and jerseys, then partnerships with the Premier League’s Chelsea FC. When the team was invited to an event in Manhattan to see David Beckham, Smalls instead convinced Major League Soccer and the stars to come to Harlem.

“It helps encourage [our boys] to be really future-minded and to think about what they can do, what the possibilities are just by seeing [Beckham and others] coming to the community,” said Smalls. The boys have also visited the JPMorgan Chase headquarters in New York, the Google headquarters in California, and elite high schools across the country for a look at the doors that are open to them.

Heartbeat of the Community

“On any given Saturday in Harlem, you may stumble across a crowd of young men in their soccer uniforms waiting for Irv, their director, mentor, and friend,” says Victoria Dillard, whose son played for FC Harlem for seven years. “To me, this is the most valuable part of the league. This is the heartbeat, because it nurtures our young men and supports their right to dream. There is a connection between Irv and his players that for many of our youth doesn’t exist at home.”

Late next year, they’ll unveil the biggest addition yet: A year-round covered soccer facility in the heart of Harlem, thanks in part to support from Chase.

“Supporting community programs is a big part of what we do at Chase,” said Frank Nakano, head of Sports and Entertainment for JPMorgan Chase. “We have made a direct impact on the participants on and off the field under Irv’s leadership and is meaningful to the Harlem community. We’re really proud be a part of a team that provides these kids a facility like this.”

“I can’t even tell you everything that we’re planning on doing with this facility,” Smalls said. “These are the sort of things I’m looking to do through soccer, through this organization, and positively impacting this community, and [Chase] is going to be a major player in that. Their commitment on the new facility is just incredible.”

Smalls plans to expand the program in the coming years, adding a clubhouse and an afterschool program. For now, though, he is concentrating on the new facility.

“These kids deserve the best, like everyone else,” Smalls said. “We have this thing with the three Cs: Be confident, competent, and caring. That’s really what they should get out of this program.”

The new field, he added, is “a place they can call their own, and that’s so important.”


Danielle Elliot is a freelance journalist based in New York. She has written features for National Geographic, The Atlantic, Grantland, Vice Sports, Yahoo Sports, and other outlets. She has produced for NBC, Fox Sports, and others.

BBC Sport: FC Harlem and the football revolution in the US

FC Harlem and the football revolution in the United States

28 November 2015

BBC Sport takes a look at how Chelsea’s football partnership with FC Harlem is benefitting young African-Americans in inner city New York.

Click here to view the Video.

BBC Sport Feature: FC Harlem

Chelsea FC: Foundation coaches head to Harlem

Below is an edited version of an original article published on chelseafc.com
Click here to read the original post.

Chelsea FC: Foundation coaches head to Harlem

Coaches from the Chelsea Foundation will fly out to New York this week to assist our partner club FC Harlem with a variety of coaching projects and outreach programmes.

foundation coaches head to harlem

FC Harlem and the Foundation have been officially working in partnership to develop community initiatives for young people in New York since July 2013, while our coaches first held sessions for local young players during the summer tour to the United States a year earlier.

This month’s visit will see the Foundation coaches assisting with FC Harlem’s annual trials for their Under-15 and Under-17 Young L.I.O.N.S (Leaders In Our Neighbourhoods) teams as well as working with younger players at the club aged 6-12.

Away from FC Harlem directly, our coaches will also visit local schools within the community and put on a session for New York children’s charity The Children’s Aid Society.

The LIONS concept is a fantastic one with the selected players also committed to doing work in the community and this year they have extended it and included an Under-17 side so the project is continuing to grow.
—Andy Ottley, Chelsea Foundation international technical support officer

Chelsea Foundation international technical support officer Andy Ottley, who has been visiting FC Harlem since the partnership began, said: ‘It is great to be going back and helping out with selection for their teams.

“The LIONS concept is a fantastic one with the selected players also committed to doing work in the community and this year they have extended it and included an Under-17 side so the project is continuing to grow.”

“We are always well received in Harlem by the players, parents, schools and those involved with Children’s Aid so it is a pleasure to be returning and continuing to make a difference.”

Ottley last visited Harlem in July and he was joined by some famous faces from the Chelsea first team including Diego Costa, Oscar and Eden Hazard.

The players were in town to celebrate both the launch of our kits for the 2015/16 season and a project to make a major addition to Harlem’s soccer infrastructure with adidas and the Chelsea Foundation inviting teenage players, both boys and girls, onto a specially constructed blue pitch court to exhibit their skills in a 2v2 knockout contest.

“Having the players visit in the summer was huge,’ added Ottley. ‘They had been before but we have new players now so showing the ties to the club as well as the Foundation is another way to inspire the kids and the coaches who we work so hard with.”

“I think the standard impressed the players! A current FC Harlem player was a winner of the 2v2 contest, so the coaches must be allowing the players to express themselves in the right way.”

“This is a project the club and the Foundation are committed to for the long term and hopefully the players witnessed that and enjoyed seeing what we have been doing for the past few years in Harlem.”

Chelsea FC Dedicates “Blue Pitch” site for FC Harlem Training Ground

Below is an edited version of an original article published on theoriginalwinger.com.
Click here to read the original post.

CHELSEA FC DEDICATES “BLUE PITCH” SITE FOR FC HARLEM TRAINING GROUND

Written By: isps |Jul 22, 2015


Chelsea Football Club executives, manager and first team players stood alongside representatives from affiliate club, FC Harlem, to announce the launch of an iconic new Blue Pitch training facility in Harlem that will serve as a revolutionary, year-round community hub for local youth soccer players.

Representatives from Chelsea FC and FC Harlem were joined at the dedication by partners Chase, Yokohama Tire, Delta Air Lines and adidas.

Christian Purslow, Managing Director, Chelsea FC, Hideto Katsuragawa, President of Tyre Company, Yokohama Rubber Company, Eden Hazard Chelsea FC player, Nubia Murray Senior Associate Sports Marketing, Chase, Irvine Smalls, President, FC Harlem, Bruce Buck, Chairman, Chelsea FC, Claus Peter Mayer, Vice President, Global Sports Marketing, Football, adidas, Frank Jahangir, Head of Sales UK, Delta Airlines, Carlo Cudicini, ex-Chelsea FC player and now Chelsea FC ambassador  during the FC Harlem Blue Pitch Announcement on 21st July 2015 at the FC Harlem Training Ground in Harlem, New York, USA.
Christian Purslow, Managing Director, Chelsea FC, Hideto Katsuragawa, President of Tyre Company, Yokohama Rubber Company, Eden Hazard Chelsea FC player, Nubia Murray Senior Associate Sports Marketing, Chase, Irvine Smalls, President, FC Harlem, Bruce Buck, Chairman, Chelsea FC, Claus Peter Mayer, Vice President, Global Sports Marketing, Football, adidas, Frank Jahangir, Head of Sales UK, Delta Airlines, Carlo Cudicini, ex-Chelsea FC player and now Chelsea FC ambassador during the FC Harlem Blue Pitch Announcement on 21st July 2015 at the FC Harlem Training Ground in Harlem, New York, USA.

The relationship between the two clubs began in July 2012 when the Chelsea FC Foundation ran a clinic for members of FC Harlem as part of the club’s visit to New York.

Since that initial event, the relationship between the organizations has continued to grow, with Chelsea Foundation coaches making regular visits to FC Harlem to educate and inspire a new generation of local coaches.

“The new pitch will positively impact youth not only by instilling in them core life skills such as resilience, integrity, responsibility and teamwork but also by providing employment and internship opportunities for participants, becoming a beacon for FC Harlem’s ground-breaking community work.”
FC Harlem executive director Irv Smalls

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The Blue Pitch training facility will form part of Chelsea FC’s “Here to Play, Here to Stay” philosophy – the club’s initiative to make a long-term commitment to the development of football at the grassroots level in the places we visit, leaving a long-standing legacy in those countries. Site highlights include:

  • The new state-of-the-art, permanent community soccer facility will be New York’s first covered soccer facility and will be floodlit, enabling year-round use and for longer hours each day
  • Working with state and city authorities, FC Harlem identified a site which would allow for complete regeneration of a plot of land to the west side of Harlem
  • The site, located at Riverside Drive and 145th Street underneath the Henry Hudson Highway, will be an anchor venue to support FC Harlem and other community programs year-round

Construction work on the $3 million facility is due to begin in early 2016, with the ambition of creating a world class inner-city soccer program that will become the blueprint for further community facilities across the United States.

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Soccer has global appeal, and Harlem is Manhattan’s most culturally diverse neighborhood.
FC Harlem executive director Irv Smalls
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Irvine Smalls, President, FC Harlem  during the FC Harlem Blue Pitch Announcement on 21st July 2015 at the FC Harlem Training Ground in Harlem, New York, USA.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Irvine Smalls, President, FC Harlem during the FC Harlem Blue Pitch Announcement on 21st July 2015 at the FC Harlem Training Ground in Harlem, New York, USA.

FC Harlem Alumni Spotlight: Akil Howard

Akil Howard, FC Harlem Alumni 2010 -11 was recently crowned 2013 Big Ten Champions along with his Penn State Nittany Lions teammates.  Akil plays defender for the Men’s soccer team and is the son of Neil Howard, FC Harlem’s Head of Coaching. Akil’s Nittany Lions are ranked in top 10 on the NCAA Men’s Division I soccer poll. Akil is considered one of the top 20 players in the Big Ten.  Akil graduates in December 2013 with a dual degree in Psychology and African Studies.  Upon graduation Akil hopes to get the opportunity to play in Major League Soccer

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Related: Penn State Athletics feature on Akil Howard

“It was late summer of 2011, and everything was going well for Howard as he settled in at Penn State, his third academic institution since graduating high school. Prior to training with the Nittany Lions, all he needed was a sports physical exam, a simple and routine matter.

This one wasn’t very simple or routine.”

Read full article

Blues Show the way in Harlem

Blues Show the Way in Harlem

This is our training field to develop kids, not just on the field but off it as well. We do enrichment programmes which focus on academic support, leadership skills, career development and all-round healthy living.
–Irv Smalls

Chelsea players including Petr Cech, Demba Ba and David Luiz joined Foundation coaches and youngsters from local club FC Harlem for a coaching clinic in New York on Friday. Also attending were Nathan Ake, Jamal Blackman, Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, at the facility in west Harlem visited by former Blue Graeme Le Saux on our tour last summer.

The pitch, an artificial surface suitable for small-sided games which is located near the Hudson River and below one of this part of Manhattan’s iconic, raised railway lines, was converted from a parking lot, and is one of two FC Harlem use. Their executive director Irv Smalls was delighted to welcome Chelsea stars to the coaching clinic.

“Today was an amazing day with Chelsea Football Club here, ”he said. “We wanted to see how we could use football to have a positive effect on the community.”

“Having a club like Chelsea here, having the players and the coaches, is really important because it helps the children feel a part of something big. This is our training field to develop kids, not just on the field but off it as well. We do enrichment programmes which focus on academic support, leadership skills, career development and all-round healthy living. “

“ Having a top club like Chelsea come here and showing those values helps cement things in the minds of the children. “

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Cech, who like his team-mates spent time playing games and signing autographs with the 25 kids, spoke of his pride to be involved in the visit.

“We are all delighted to come and meet kids at a fantastic project like this,” he said. “The club takes very serious our work in the community and it is an important part of when we travel to different parts of the world. FC Harlem helps bring the spirit of football into this community which is great.“

Originally founded in 1990 as Harlem Youth Soccer Association (HYSA), the FC Harlem program offers kids a safe place to play the beautiful game, right in the heart of Harlem. More than 1,000 children participate annually in after-school soccer programmes, beginner clinics and competitive travel teams.

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Chelsea continues to build upon our ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay’ ethos by leaving lasting legacies in places we visit.

All year round we are active in the US via our Super Clubs programmes in Baltimore, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta, and we look forward to continuing our work with FC Harlem in New York.

Article from www.chelseafc.com

LIONS visit Google headquarters in NYC

This past April members of the FC Harlem travel team were treated to an exciting, educational and eye opening visit to Google Corporate office in NYC.  Tony Watkins, Googler ( term for employee of Google) and FC Harlem volunteer arranged the visit to what is considered one of the most desirable companies to work for.

LIONS visit Google headquarters in NYC

Tony and his Google colleagues took FC Harlem players and staff on a tour of the unique NYC offices and setup a Q& A session. In addition to being amazed by a cool interior design, googlers whizzing by on scooters and the gigantic game room, FC Harlem players had an opportunity to participate in an international video conference with googlers in Canada and got to see up close a pair of Google glasses.   “The google glasses were amazing!!” said Armando Larios. U19 player John Estrada headed to Syracuse University in the Fall commented on how many of the staff he met that had English degrees. “I was thinking if you worked here you needed a degree in computer science, math and engineering which I am sure many do but the staff explained that they hire people with a wide range of backgrounds.” The players ended the tour with a photo next to the Google sign and a view of the city from the rooftop.

Former Liverpool player Phil Babb visits FC Harlem

WEST HARLEM- On a  blustery Saturday morning in March, FC Harlem U19 players and staff were treated to a training session by former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland National Team player, Phil Babb.

Phil Babb (center black adidas hoodie) poses with players and coaches of FC Harlem U19 Team

Phil spent six years at Liverpool and at time was the most expensive centerback in the EPL. In addition to Liverpool he played for Sunderland and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. As a member of the Republic of Ireland National Team he had 35 caps including four matches in the 1994 World Cup. Phil works as a FIFA licensed agent

Phil provided the FC Harlem coaches with training tips and drills they can implement in training sessions with the players.  The players used the opportunity to ask Phil about playing at the highest level in the EPL and the World Cup.

You have to be ready to make the sacrfice and commitment to pursue your dream… You need to work hard on and off the field” Phil advised the players.
Phil Babb

Phil finished up the session with individual and group photos with staff and players.

AC Milan Donate 600 Footballs to FC Harlem

Harlem and Milan. With the handshake between Massimo Ambrosini and Irv Smalls, Executive Director   of the youth football project in Harlem, the Rossoneri donated 600 footballs to FC Harlem.
Harlem and Milan. With the handshake between Massimo Ambrosini and Irv Smalls, Executive Director of the youth football project in Harlem, the Rossoneri donated 600 footballs to FC Harlem.

Milan – At their visit to the New York adidas store, Milan donated 600 footballs to FC Harlem, a football association that aims to help youth in the quarter.

Present at the adidas store was FC Harlem executive director Irv Smalls. Having a victorious past in sport – Smalls won the prestigious Rose Bowl Game in 1995 with Nittany Lions – he is convinced that football, even if not the American variety, can bring the youth together rather than dividing them.

FC Harlem was founded in 1990 and believes in the positive potential of children and the strength of football to bring this potential to light, helping children’s development on their path to becoming successful adults.

And it is thanks to initiatives like FC Harlem, encouraged by the gesture from Milan, that Harlem has changed face since the mid-90s – and continues to change for the better.