Summer is officially here! Time for Fair Trade iced tea, ice cream and soccer! That's right, soccer. We are proud to introduce you to a new parter, Senda Athletics , a Berkeley-based company that sells Fair Trade Certified soccer balls .
Fair Trade standards ensure that soccer ball producers meet social, economic and environmental criteria (the full standard is available here ). These include ensuring that all workers in the supply chain – factory workers and stitchers – receive at least the national minimum wage; that there is no child labour involved in production; and that the health and safety of workers is safeguarded.
Furthermore, producers receive an additional sum of money – the Fair Trade Premium for community and economic development projects. Through the Fairtrade premium, workers and stitchers are able to improve the lives of their families and their communities’ health, education and livelihood opportunities.
To tell us more about Senda Athletics, here is a Q&A with the company's founder and social entrepreneur Santiago Halty:
What is the Senda Athletics story? How did you get started?
Senda Athletics was born out of true passion for soccer and Fair Trade, and the desire to expand the benefits of sports to as many young people as possible. Soccer is king in Argentina, where I grew up. I don't remember a time when I didn’t play: in school, at home, in the streets, at the beach, even in classrooms!
But soccer was more than a game. It was a way to spend time with friends, a path to self-confidence and the mean to learn discipline. It is from that foundation that Senda –which means “path” in Spanish – grew.
I got started right after finishing college at UC San Diego California  (a Fair Trade University!) in 2009. I decided to start a company that not only made high-quality products respecting workers and the environment, but also had a strong and honest commitment to promote sports as tool for social change.
Senda's mission is to make high-quality Fair Trade soccer balls that connect and benefit athletes, and to support grassroots organizations that use soccer as a vehicle for change
Senda partners with organizations that use soccer to improve lives in the United States and abroad, with the goal of providing them with soccer equipment on an ongoing basis.
Why is Fair Trade an important part of your business?
Fair Trade is one of the main reasons we started Senda! As a soccer player, whenever I had to buy a soccer ball, I did not know the conditions in which it was made.
Respecting and embracing the fair trade standards sets us apart from the rest of the sports companies. Many people in the soccer community do not know about the existence of Fair Trade soccer balls, but when we explain to them what it means, they immediately support us, and ask us how they can get a ball.
When did you first learn about Fair Trade?
After moving to the US in 2002 to go to college, I discovered the concept of Fair Trade, as well as the amazing coffee, tea and chocolate which are made respecting people and the environment. I immediately fell on love with the concept. Back then I did not know I would start my very own Fair Trade company.
How much labor really goes into making a soccer ball?
Making a high quality soccer ball is a labor intensive process. Senda's soccer balls are made in Pakistan, and hand-stitched to ensure durability and performance. On average, an experienced worker can stitch a high quality soccer ball in about two and a half hours.
Do the soccer pros like Senda?
Yes! One of them was Kim Yokers, who played for the FC Gold Pride in Women Professional Soccer. She really liked the design, durability and weight of the Senda soccer balls. You can see what she said here:
Natalie Spilger, who played professionally for the Chicago Red Stars, is also a big supporter and has used Senda soccer balls in her soccer camps. Natalie does some amazing work, educating young people on environmental issues through soccer. Watch this video to see what she said about Senda:
We are also talking to several Major League Players, who will be testing the balls with us in the coming weeks.
Where can we get a Senda Fair Trade Certified soccer ball?
Senda Soccer Balls are already available in the United States! Anyone can get a ball on our website www.SendaAthletics.com , and we will start shipping them out June 15, 2011. We have already received several orders from teams, leagues and individuals, who are excited to be among the first ones to get Senda Fair Trade Certified balls.
We have three types: practice, match and premier balls, depending on individual level of play. They are all priced competitively, and can be used for players of all ages, since Senda soccer balls come in sizes 3, 4 and 5. We are currently developing an indoor and turf ball too.
Senda offers bulk prices for teams, leagues and clubs that order larger quantities and can make fully customized balls for them. One of my favorite custom balls we made was for the Albany Berkeley Soccer Club!
After two years of hard work, research, and talking to hundreds of players and coaches, we are confident we have come out with top quality soccer balls that are as good, or even better, than any ball in the market.
We continue to work closely with coaches and players to develop our soccer balls, and to explore ways in which Senda can partner with grassroots organizations changing communities through soccer. We would love to include everyone who uses our equipment in this ongoing process, and have them be part of the conversation.