Gonzo Soccer Receives U.S. Soccer Foundation Grant!

19 Dec

US-SOCCER-FOUNDATION

Chicago, Ill. (December 19, 2013) – The U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded a grant to Gonzo Soccer to support Gonzo Soccer’s initiatives as a soccer and leadership academy targeting girls aged 8-16 in underserved communities of Chicago, Illinois, and Houston, Texas. The young girls are provided soccer and life skills training from top female soccer coaches in order to improve health and fitness, boost academic standing, and foster personal development. Gonzo Soccer was founded by Monica Gonzalez, former captain of the Mexico women’s national team and current ESPN analyst, and Alyse LaHue, General Manager for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States, announced that it has awarded 37 grants totaling more than $1.8 million to non-profit organizations serving youth in underserved communities across the nation.

In its continued effort to grow the game of soccer and utilize it to improve the positive health and social outcomes for children, the U.S. Soccer Foundation awards grants to support soccer programming and field-building initiatives nationwide.  Non-profit organizations eligible to receive grant funding include those that provide children with the opportunity to play soccer and provide programming aimed at keeping children in under-resourced communities active, healthy, and safe.

“Our goal at the U.S. Soccer Foundation is to provide children with access to quality soccer programs that support both physical and personal development,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We are pleased to support organizations that not only help grow the game of soccer, but make a positive impact on the lives of the children and families in their communities.”

37 awards were distributed this grant cycle, with 19 bestowed as part of the Safe Places to Play program. The Safe Places to Play program seeks to build or enhance field spaces in underserved areas in order to provide spaces that are safe for children to play soccer. To date, the Foundation has helped create or improve over 1,000 safe places for children nationwide.

“We have been huge fans of the work that the U.S. Soccer Foundation does for local communities and are thrilled to be a part of their initiatives,” said Gonzo Soccer Co-Founder Alyse LaHue. “Gonzo’s program goals are aligned with the mission of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and this will help us to continue to grow and positively impact more young girls.”

Gonzo Soccer’s year-round program helps at-risk girls endure the perils of urban living, thereby growing into strong, healthy women who attend college and become productive citizens and leaders. Gonzo Soccer is also running programming for girls in Mexico and Colombia.

Support for the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s grant process is provided by the Foundation’s corporate partners, including, FieldTurf, Hunter Industries, Musco Sports Lighting, PEVO Sports, Soccer.com and Sport Court. Since its inception in 1994, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has now awarded more than $60 million in grant awards to non-profit organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

About the U.S. Soccer Foundation

The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth development programs for children in underserved, urban communities.  Since its founding in 1994, the organization has provided more than $60 million in funding to create and sustain innovative programs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Proven to deliver positive health and social outcomes, the Foundation’s affordable initiatives offer safe environments in which both boys and girls thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit http://www.ussoccerfoundation.org to learn more.

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Gonzo Colombia Officially Launched!

22 Nov

Thanks to the support of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Gonzo Soccer has now launched programs in five cities in Colombia: San Andreas, Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Quibdo. Co-founders Monica Gonzalez and Alyse LaHue were there the last two weeks setting up the programs.

See the photos on our Gonzo Soccer Facebook page!

Pancho Villa’s Army Makes Gonzo Soccer Its Official Not-for-Profit Partner!

26 Apr

villas army

We are proud to announce that Pancho Villa’s Army has made Gonzo Soccer its official not-for-profit partner. Pancho Villa’s Army is a nonviolent, family-oriented supporter group of the Mexican National Team that strives to unite people of all races and cultures in support of El Tri and Hispanic soccer. Women and young adults are highly encouraged to join and be part of Pancho Villa’s Army.

Part of Pancho Villa’s Army’s mission is to support Hispanic youth soccer and Hispanic education in the United States and in Mexico, and because of these common objectives, sought to partner with Gonzo Soccer. We are excited for what we will accomplish together!

Pancho Villa’s Army has pledged the following:

“We will be launching our official donation drive and targeting $1,000.00 as our 2013 goal! Additionally Pancho Villa’s Army will be donating $5.00 of every Adelita Membership to Gonzo Soccer! We will also be working with sponsors and other partners to seek opportunities to promote this great organization. So stay tuned and help Gonzo Soccer mentor young women and perhaps find the next great Mexican or U.S. women national team player.”

For more on Pancho Villa’s Army, visit www.panchovillasarmy.com or follow them on Twitter @VillasArmy

Gonzo Around the World

25 Jan

by Marisa Brown

As one of the coaches with Gonzo Academy I had the opportunity to train and teach a group of energetic and committed girls who showed up every Monday or Tuesday ready to play and learn new skills. It was interesting for me to journey into a new neighborhood (Pilsen area) to work with girls whose parents are for the majority, Mexican Americans and whose first language is spanish. I enjoyed the time with the girls and the time also speaking with their mothers, fathers and siblings who would often accompany the girls to the trainings. It was so amazing to be a part of this new community and to see the support for the girls to continue playing soccer. A couple times I stayed afterwards to either play with or watch girls from our trainings playing in the league games and in these instances I had the opportunity to see the high level of support that the girls received from their community, particularly from their cheering and proud mothers and fathers. It was an inspiring atmosphere to be a part of and helped to prepare and encourage me for the programs I would be leading for girls like those in Gonzo but in different parts of the world.

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My former organization works with soccer organizations and schools in many countries in Africa, Asia and more recently South America, and through my position with the organization, I was able to travel to many countries and work with many coaches, teachers and even young soccer players. One of my first programs was with a group in Kenya and the young participants were both players and aspiring coaches. The organization worked in a region where families survived on agricultural production and where religion, both Islam and Christianity played an important role in the society.

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Many of the female coaches were 15 to 20 years old and were starting so young so that they could possibly avoid the obstacles that they would most likely face later in their lives, such as early marriage and dropping out of school. The organization purposely aimed at younger and younger girls to help to teach them skills such as developing their voices, teaching them their rights while alongside providing a safe space to socialize and play sports. During training it was encouraging for me to look out at the young and energetic faces while teaching a new game or coaching a new skill because I knew that they were absorbing the information and were eager to apply the learnings in their own spaces. It also reminded me of some of the older Gonzo girls who had started to help with the coaching and who could relate so well to the players because they listened well and understood where the girls were coming from, all of which are important skills for coaches.

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Another program that stood out for me and one of which also connected me back to Gonzo was one which took place in Chamwino, Tanzania. My colleagues and I had a great opportunity to spend a week with a local girls team. We taught the coaches in the morning and then often were accompanied by the coaches in the afternoon at the girls session. The girls had the biggest smiles stretching across their faces on the first day of training and it lasted until the end of the week program. The team had a fabulous male coach, Nico, however, many of the girls were excited to have three female coaches to teach them new skills and to share with them about the opportunities football can bring in one‘s life. The girls showed up to the fields wearing their school uniforms and never with actual soccer equipment. It didn’t matter one bit, as the girls played with so much determination and energy, that it was rare to ever see a girl fall and stay on the ground. It was amazing to look into their eyes and see that they were yearning for more skills and for more opportunities to play. When the coaches were present and even sometime bystanders at their trainings, it reminded me of the nights at Chitown with the community supporting the girls games and the mothers eyes glued to the pitch, hoping their girl would make the next pass, shot or tackle. It was an encouraging environment and reminded me that the sport has so much potential to help those involved and if the coaches are trained well on how to use the space, then many great learnings can take place.

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I have read recently on the Gonzo blog about the current activities and it is encouraging to see that the life skills section is really expanding. I see many of the same faces in the photos and I am certain that there has been a lot of joy, learning and development at the GONZO Academy.

New T’s & Hoodies In Stock! Free With Donation.

12 Dec

Donate $25+ to Gonzo Soccer and receive your very own grey Gonzo Soccer t-shirt with either hot pink or light blue design!

GonzoSoccer_PinkTshirt_FrontBack copyGonzoSoccer_BlueTshirt_FrontBack copy

Donate $45+ and receive your choice of Hoodie! (Blue print also available).

GonzoSoccer_PinkHoodie_FrontBack_Cropped copy

All options available in sizes YM, YL, YXL, YXXL, and Adult S, M, L, and XL.
Please note the youth sizes run small. Shipping is FREE and your item will be sent upon completion of donation.

*Please put your color and size request in the comments box when you checkout.

*We can’t guarantee shipping in time for Christmas, but will ship as quickly as possible!
 
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF OUR GONZO SOCCER GIRLS!

*All donations are fully tax deductable via our 501c3 status.

A Halloween Challenge

31 Oct

Monday during Lifeskills, we decided to present a Halloween challenge to the girls.

Each player ‘trick or treated’ a piece of paper from the pumpkin and was presented with one of two assignments for the upcoming week:

1) Give out fruit to some kids on Halloween instead of candy. What is their reaction? Why do you think they reacted that way? What would Halloween be like if everyone handed out fruits/vegetables and NOT candy?

2) For every piece of candy you eat this week, you should eat a piece of fruit. Keep a record on this sheet and bring it back to GONZO next week with your tally marks. Underneath the score, tell us why you think it is important to make sure you are eating MORE fruit than candy.

We have a feeling there are going to be some very interesting responses to this homework assignment when we meet with the girls next!

 

Have a Great Week!

22 Oct

We just loved this photo from practice and wanted to share =)

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

27 Sep

 

Monday night at training Coach Olivia held a lifeskills lessons that was entirely about ‘RESPECT’.

She presented questions and allowed the girls to answer:

What is Respect?
Treating others like you would want to be treated.
Being kind to others.
Not making fun of others.

What Can You Do to Earn Respect?
Always be nice to others.
Help other people.
Doing what your family asks you to do (mainly parents).

What/Who Should You Respect?
Family
Teachers
Coaches
Property (we discussed treating all of the soccer equipment and the facility with respect!)

How Can You Show Respect When Playing Soccer?
Don’t say bad things to the refs.
Don’t curse on the field.
Don’t push anyone on the soccer field (on purpose!).
Help people up or ask them if they are ok if they fall or get hurt.
Play as hard as you can.

If Someone Isn’t Giving You the Respect You Deserve, What Would You Say to Them/How Would You Handle the Situation?
Tell them!
Tell your teachers, coaches, or caretaker if someone is treating you badly. Don’t be AFRAID to tell someone if you are being treated badly.
Continue to be nice to the other person.
Don’t yell at them.

We will be following up at the next session to discuss situations that involved ‘respect’ during the last week whether it was at home, school, or at soccer and see if the girls are becoming more aware of this very important intangible.

Inspired by Olympian Shannon Boxx

9 Aug

The following is in an entry by Monica Gonzalez:

“Going into the gold medal match of the 2012 London Olympic Games, the U.S. women’s national soccer team is more popular than ever. Full of young ladies who are fascinating the public, others simply have fascinating stories to tell. Shannon Boxx has not seen action since the opening game of these Olympics due to a hamstring injury she suffered in the 17th minute against France, but she may still be called upon in today’s gold medal game against Japan, and her story is one little known to the mainstream but well worth repeating given the importance of this day and the importance of Shannon Boxx to the women’s national team. Back in April at halftime of a 1-1 draw versus Japan, ESPN aired an interview in which Shannon shared for the first time on-air about a disease she has been coping with for 10 years.

“Boxxy” and I were college teammates at Notre Dame, but her revelation caught me by surprise.  When I pieced this in with what I already knew of her career I realized that the two-time gold medalist epitomizes attributes common to the greatest of Olympic stories: mental fortitude, persistence, and courage. More importantly, she is a hero that blazed a new trail for those who didn’t think sport was an option given their disease.

In 2002, at just 24 years old, Shannon was experiencing unusual amounts of fatigue and went to the doctor thinking it may be mono.  She was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands.  Even upon figuring out what was wrong with her and adjusting her diet and exercise regimen to protect the load on her joints, life threw her yet another curve ball.  She had been on the WUSA’s San Diego Spirit and was traded to the New York Power. Her confidence was busted because she spent the final stretch of the 2002 season on the bench after having been a regular starter all year.

This was a critical juncture, a point where undoubtedly her mind, body and soul were out of sync.  Shannon made a couple of decisions that would shape the rest of her career.  One, she kept her disease private.  She didn’t want anyone to use it as an excuse, herself included.  Second, she decided to push herself harder than ever before. If her body was struggling, she would train it to get stronger and last longer. Her mind and spirit took control of her body, not the other way around.  In the off-season, Shannon hired two personal trainers, Jim Herkimer and Craig Bennett. She told them “I will never say no to anything you tell me to do.  And I will never quit.”

I remember her next season very well.  She was one of the best players in the league (WUSA). I remember seeing her my rookie season with the Boston Breakers when we played each other. I said, “Foxy Boxxy!!!”  And I meant it.  Since I had last seen her in college, she had literally transformed her body—she was so lean and completely ripped.  That season, Boxx was the center-mid that tore teams up…you couldn’t get by her and with the ball she could beat you just as easily dribbling, passing or shooting. It was no surprise when she got called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team.  She’s been a starter ever since.

In the ensuing years, Shannon saw several doctors to find one that could help her deal with Sjogren’s and ensure the disease wasn’t progressing.  In 2007 she saw a rheumatologist who found her blood work to be abnormal and believed she had something more than just Sjogren’s.  It took a little trial and error to finally figure out she had Lupus. Lupus is like a self-allergy, the antibodies that are supposed to keep you disease-free instead attack your healthy tissues. It causes fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, and at a progressed state can result in the destruction of vital organs. Nine out of ten people who develop Lupus are women. There is no cure.

I spoke to Shannon after her interview came out on ESPN in April. I wanted to know why she didn’t tell her teammates all these years. Wouldn’t she want their support?  She said she had all the support she needed with her family and close friends.  She reiterated that if everyone knew, then she would have an excuse to not perform to everyone else’s level.  She did share with head coach Pia Sundhage and the national team staff. They were incredibly supportive and told her to sit out whenever necessary. Despite the fatigue and awful joint aches, Shannon had never missed one single training session going into these Olympics.

After the ESPN feature came out in April, Shannon said the best feedback she received was from others with Lupus who thanked her for giving them the courage and motivation to exercise and live an active lifestyle despite the disease.

I will share with you something that Shannon may not like. My sophomore year at Notre Dame (1998) Boxxy was a senior and our team captain. She came in from summer break out of shape and throughout the season regularly came in toward the back in fitness.  Even though she played every single game of her collegiate career, she wasn’t even selected to the All-Conference team her senior year.  Flash forward two years, she finds out she’s sick. Because of her mindset and courage, Shannon took what most would consider a weakness that could possibly end her career and used it as a catapult to become stronger than ever. How do I know that?  Flash forward two more years and she’s an Olympic Gold Medalist. One year after that, she was third in voting for 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year.

Shannon has never been a spotlight kind of person. Even with the pressure to get a Twitter account after the 2011 World Cup hype, she refrained. It wasn’t until she became involved with the Lupus Foundation that she decided a Twitter account could do some good. The Lupus Foundation of America works to improve the quality of life for those affected by lupus through research, education and advocacy.  Worldwide, Lupus is more common than leukemia or muscular sclerosis, yet so many are unfamiliar.

In November, Shannon stood up in front of a roomful of young girls and their families to share her story for the first time.  It’s on YouTube and worth watching.  At various points her voice trembles as though she is fighting off tears.  I think as Shannon spoke out loud about her struggles and triumphs during the last ten years, she heard her own story and realized, maybe for the first time, how remarkable it really is.”

Shannon’s Twitter: @ShannonBoxx7

The Gonzo girls watched the Boxx video and here’s their reaction:

Monica Appears in Interview for ‘ESPN Front Row’

24 Jul

Monica put on her ‘sideline analyst’ hat and sat down for a chat with ESPN’s Front Row, where she discusses a bit of her history with the Mexican national team, being a media member now, and even has a Gonzo Soccer shoutout in there!

Read the full article by clicking <<HERE>>

And we love the ‘Monica the Analyst’ picture also 🙂