4th Annual Benefit Raises $54,000 for South Bronx United Youth Programs

Alumni Speaker Aicha Fofana with SBU social worker Samantha Norris

BRONX, NY – South Bronx United held its 4th Annual Benefit at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in New York City on Tuesday, November 11th, raising $54,000 in net proceeds.  100% of the funds raised will go towards sustaining and expanding the nonprofit organization’s youth development programs that combine soccer with mentoring, academic enrichment, college prep, leadership development, and support services.

The evening was kicked off by emcee Jared Max, a multi-award winning sportscaster and talk show host currently be heard on WCBS-880 and read on CBSnewyork.com, and featured speeches from Board Chairman Dave Hahn and South Bronx United’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Andrew So.  However, the star of the night was alumni Aicha Fofana who currently attends the City College of New York.  Aicha was born in Sierra Leone in the middle of the nation’s civil war.  Her family fled to Guinea where Aicha lived until moving to the Bronx in 2008.  She joined South Bronx United and the SBU Rising Stars in 2011.  Aicha graduated this spring valedictorian from Bronx Latin High School .  This fall, she began her first semester at City College thanks to $4,000 from the South Bronx United College Scholarship to support her tuition and expenses.  The scholarship is awarded every year by the organization’s scholarship committee to deserving graduates.

South Bronx United's 4th Annual Benefit was held at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in New York City

Over 200 guests attended the event, which was sponsored by Dos Toros Taqueriathe Bronx Brewery, Two Sigma Investments, and InterFysio LLC.  Numerous other businesses and institutions contributed to the evening’s success.  A live and silent auction featured teams donated from New York City FC, the New York Yankees, Relish Caterers, the Late Show with David Letterman, and more.

South Bronx United has served community youth since 2009 through its mission of using soccer for social change.  Currently over 600 boys and girls participated in programs that help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond. Among South Bronx United’s goals are the promotion of educational achievement, health and wellness, and character development through activities on and off the soccer field and to unite a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals.

Video:  SBU Youth Impact 2014: Aicha

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South Bronx United to host 4th Annual Benefit on November 11th

BRONX, NY –  On November 11th, South Bronx United will be holding it’s 4th Annual Benefit at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in Manhattan (267 Fifth Avenue).  The event will raise funds for South Bronx youth programs in education, mentoring, social services, and soccer that serve over 600 children in the community.  Doors open at 7 pm.

The evening will feature presentations from the organization’s Executive Director and SBU alum, Aicha Fofana, the most recent recipient of the SBU College Scholarship.  Thanks in part to the scholarship award, she currently attends the City College of New York.   The participation of several sponsors highlights the evening.  Dos Toros Taqueria will sponsor a full taco buffet, the Artuso Pastry Shop sponsors dessert.  The Bronx Brewery, one of two businesses brewing beer in the Bronx, returns as well by contributing to the open bar.   A silent and live auction, both crowd favorites, will liven up the evening and feature items from New York Yankee tickets to a Maine vacation to a private team coaching session with former US Men’s National Team captain and 2013 honoree Claudio Reyna.  Radio personality and former ESPN 98.7 host Jared Max will serve as the evening’s MC.

All proceeds from the evening go towards South Bronx United youth programming. The organization’s mission is to help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership skills so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond, and to united a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals.  South Bronx United also does significant work with immigrant youth and the immigrant community as a whole.   At the benefit, the organization will be celebrating and sharing its considerable growth over the past year along with the significant results it has seen in enriching the lives and expanding outcomes for youth participants. In the past three years, 100 percent of seniors in the program graduated high school and 92 percent have enrolled in college. In comparison, the graduation rate in the South Bronx overall is just 56 percent.

Tickets for the evening start at $100, with $200 partner tickets including gift bags.  75 percent of the ticket cost is tax-deductible. Full details are available at www.sbusupporters.org/benefit.  Businesses interested in sponsoring or advertising or individuals interested in reserving group seating should inquire by emailing benefit@southbronxunited.org or calling Brendan Davis at (718) 404-9281.  South Bronx United is thankful for the generous support of sponsors Two Sigma Investments and InterFysio who have help make the Annual Benefit possible.

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U17 Boys Columbus Cup in Review

by Kevin Anchundia

The 2014 Brooklyn Italians Columbus cup is a tournament where all soccer clubs around the country are invited to compete. South Bronx United 97 Strikers have been playing in this tournament for the past three years and this year we were lucky enough to join the tournament once again. South Bronx United 97 Strikers history in this tournament hasn’t been good.  Our overall record is 3-0-3.

On the first day we arrived to the tournament, our focus was singular.  We needed a win; it was as simple as that.  In the locker room, my teammates and I had our game faces on.  We knew if we played around we wouldn’t accomplish our goal.  As we were ready to leave the locker room and warm up for our first game, our new coach was ready to say his first speech to the team. Everyone was excited to hear it!  Coach Andrej made a powerful speech that inspired us.  For the first time it was nice seeing me and my teammates warm up together as a unit and organize. The warm up made a difference on the pitch. The first game we played was against Commack SC Academy.  The team played well but not as well as we wanted to.  The first ten minutes of the game we were playing awful on the pitch and Commack was taking advantage and attacking high. Commack had a few opportunities but couldn’t put it away and we got very lucky.

Warming up for our first game

Then we changed the game around and started attacking and playing better until half time.  Both teams looked even on the pitch.  We had good opportunities but couldn’t finish.  At the start of the second half, we played the best football that day.  We kept the ball moving from the middle to the wings and with one-two touches controlled the game pretty well.  In those 15 minutes, we got two goals which gave us the lead. The two goals were special to the team because they were goals which came from Ebenezer and Daniel, two of our newest players.  With 20 minutes left in the game we got too comfortable, which led to us giving up a goal.  Commack got momentum going which forced us to play more defensive.  Finally, the whistle was blown, and we were happy with the result.  We played as a team and supported one another.

On our second day of the tournament, the team had an early morning game, with a 10:50 am kickoff.  We woke up early and meet up in front of Yankee stadium at 8:00 am. Meeting each other in one place before every game is something our teams are known for. Waking up three hours before our morning game is standard, as we usually take the subway to our games. For our second game we took a van. We still had to wake up early just in case there’s traffic or any delays.

As our team headed to our second game, we knew we needed another win to have a better chance to advance to the next round. We all knew the team we were facing wasn’t going to be easy.  Met Oval was our opponent, and we had played them before in the league. We have a history of us playing Met Oval in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, but not since we were in the Under-14 division, when we finished second place behind them.  We still had confidence in each other that we would win.

Both teams attacked back and forth, with lots of fouls and good scoring opportunities in the first half. Met Oval opened the game with a goal in the latter forty minutes. We were down one to zero; we still fought through the game and try to even it out. Met Oval scored again in the second half with 10 minutes left. We manage to get a goal with five minutes left, with a lay off from our tall striker, Mamadou Traore, to attacking midfielder Brandon Paniagua, who shot outside the box into the top left corner. In the last five minutes we  pressured the ball. Met Oval played more defensive and held on until the final whistle was blown.  Despite the loss, we played well and had fought hard through 70 minutes of play.


Preparing before our final game

On our third day of the tournament, we knew we needed a win, in order to advance to next round either as the winner of our group or the best second place team.  We were ready to play our third game of the tournament, when we heard that a second place team from a different group, Toronto Lynx (of Canada), had won 5-0.   This meant we could would need to win by six goals to finish as the best second place team on goal differential.  Assuming Met Oval won its last game, this presented a huge obstacle.

At game time, it was South Bronx United Strikers versus Synergy Football Academy of Vermont. We started dominating the game in the first 20 minutes just moving the ball around, testing their goalie, making good runs.  Then Synergy started pressuring the ball, which started to turn the game.  But right when they started pressuring, we scored a goal off a fast break before the half time to go up 1-0 on a nice goal by Ebenezer Asante.  We came back stronger second half.  In the first 15 minutes we got another goal which led to Synergy to start playing poorly and gave us an advantage.  Then later on when ten minutes were left, we scored another goal which gave us a 3-0 lead. Our team became too confident and started making silly mistakes, which led to a goal from Synergy. At the end of the game the result was 3-1.   We took the win but didn’t advance.  The game went well for us almost throughout the whole game, until we made a mistake which allowed them to score which made things our goal more difficult.

Overall, the South Bronx United Strikers 97 worked and played as a team finishing with a 2-1-0 record.  We learned how to win and lose as a team. We also got a chance to showcase to some college coaches which was a big opportunity. Even though we didn’t advance we learned new things from this tournament that we can use to become a stronger team in the future.  I know that for me some things I can improve in is my speed and long passes. I realize that if I can improve in these things, I would become a stronger player over time.  I know my teammates learned things as well.  After this tournament, I believe the team can win the season this year.  Perhaps we can even make it to the state cup finals.

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Sports Journalism at SBU

by Ethan Back

I am a rising Junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying History and Spanish. Outside of the classroom, my passions are sports journalism and soccer, so I was very much looking forward to my summer as part of South Bronx United.

Students shared articles they wrote and received peer feedback.

I prepared as best as I could for the summer, but only when the students arrived on the first day and the program began did I truly realize what was in store for me. Almost immediately, I made relationships with the students as their mentor, teacher, and coach. I taught a class in Sports Journalism to both 7th and 8th graders and 9th and 10th graders, and used the students’ passion for soccer to improve their writing skills. We watched World Cup highlights, read game recaps, and eventually delved into more controversial topics such as racism, gender equality, and corruption in FIFA. Using these for inspiration, I watched each and every student get better at writing week by week, regardless of their starting abilities.

As a final project, each student wrote about their summer experience at SBU, ranging from special events (attending the Manchester City/Liverpool game at Yankee Stadium, meeting David Villa), to the soccer part of the program to what they learned in the classroom. It was rewarding to see how much the students developed as writers during the summer while simultaneously having them reflect on the five weeks they just enjoyed.

SBU’s summer program is a great way for kids to hone their soccer skills while also keeping their minds active and ready for the school year ahead. I hope that I made a lasting impact on the students I worked with this summer, because I know they have all made a lasting impact on me.

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What SBU was for Me

I taught Magazine Journalism during the Summer Soccer Scholars Program

By Ama Adutwiwaa

When I was introduced to South Bronx United (SBU) I was given the idea that the program was soccer oriented.  With extensive research, I realized that its not.

As part of my marketing role, I worked on the 2014 SBU Charity Cup where these board members helped raise money for SBU youth programs.

SBU is a program that uses soccer to enforce change in the lives of youth from the South Bronx. The organization uses soccer as a tool to implement the essence of education and help the youth build character. And as the youth build character they are also learning the true essence of community building and giving back to their community.

As a staff member I would honestly say that I have seen both the outside and the behind scenes to the organization. This summer I was an intern at SBU for the public relations/marketing department, a tutor for a short period of time and a magazine journalism teacher.

When interning for the public relations/marketing field I honestly really didn’t know what to expect because that was my first time stepping into the field. It started off with me editing grants, looking for media outlets and etc. which ended up becoming something that I truly enjoyed doing. I learned how non-profits gain money for their organization and learned how social media affects the brand of an organization. For when establishing an organization you must live up to your brand and SBU does exactly just that.

Teaching and tutoring were positions that I’ve held before in high school so they weren’t too new to me. But I would say that I learned how to have patience and that’s what you need when dealing with kids. A teacher must understand that this is not a one-person class but a class of 20 students with different opinions.  Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed but all you need to do is breathe. And that’s what I did everyday. I would say it wasn’t easy but I cherished every moment of being with them because they honestly became my siblings.

This summer, SBU pulled out the big kid in me and turned me into a role model for these students and I’m glad that I got the opportunity to work with them. I hope to see the organization to continue to grow and as the years go by became more and more successful. It was a pleasure working with the SBU family and I’m glad I was given this opportunity.

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A Summer Home

By Gurjinder Singh

I started working with SBU eight months ago in January as a social work intern. I had a marvelous experience tutoring many enthusiastic SBU students that I decided to continue for the summer. Growing up attending New York City Public Schools it never occurred to me how much our education here lacked until I was in the classroom teaching. Having realized that I knew I wanted to work in a school setting to help create social change and education reform.

After two weeks of intense training, I was nervous to be back in a classroom as well as ecstatic to see several of my former tutoring students. This was also the first time I grasped the soccer aspect of the program/organization, which was the reason why I joined. Though, I do not play soccer I do share the same passion for it, as do the students. My favorite aspect was watching the student’s transition from the classroom environment to the soccer field. It was as though I was watching them from a different light; they were comfortable and showed their full competence and passion for the sport. It was pleasing to watch the students practice and play against each other in SBU style World Cup matches. Secretly, non-coaching interns also had their favorite teams. It was heartbreaking when Guam lost. It was quite fascinating to see coaches playing in the matches as well, watching Coach Jamaal frolicking against the younger students like little Cristian.

Off the field, I taught a class called Life Skills. I worked alongside with Samantha Norris, the social worker and with Jessica and Jasmin from Changing the Odds. Together, we worked on a curriculum defining their social standings, and their community. As well as empowering students to start thinking about the transformations they would want to see happen in their communities by articulating themselves and working together.

Students had come up with some motivating project ideas; we had a Violence Prevention Day after they identified violence as an issue in the Bronx. We in addition, had a heartfelt discussion regarding bullying. Another concern they had had to do with loitering and air pollution. As a service project with the high school students, we did a park cleanup with the organization The Bronx is…Blooming. We removed weeds from around trees, aired the soil, and positioned mulch above the soil. Then swiped it clean as well as painted the poles around the park. I did not think the students would find this remotely interesting; nonetheless, they enjoyed getting their hands dirty.

After having developed new and prior relationships with the students and staff, I know I will stay well connected with this organization. SBU as the students call it is a home. SBU is a place where you are family regardless of your background; you do not have to know what an offside is to fit in here. I too feel I am part of this family.

I wish these students the best, which they all deserve.

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My Summer as an SBU Teacher

by Grace Feinman-Riordan

This summer during my break from studies at NYU, I was lucky enough to be able to come teach at South Bronx United. Having played and loved sports since I was in high school, I was excited to combine sports with academia. I’m not a soccer player, but I watch enough games and am well-informed enough about the sport to keep up with the kids. What’s more, this program was important to me because it especially caters to kids like my brother, who are really passionate about soccer but could be doing better in school.

From the first day, I knew I had made the right decision. It was immediately clear from the way the kids interacted with each other that they were very close, that they had known each other for a long time. Seeing the kids so comfortable with each other somehow made me more comfortable, and before long I felt like I was part of the group, that my role as a mentor made sense, which was a great feeling, especially right off the bat.

I think what makes the program really effective and special is the way that it incorporates both sports, which the kids already love, into academics and inextricably links the two. It was also very powerful to see the kids respond the way they did to a positive adult influence in their lives. It didn’t take much, just small kindnesses and respect, but you could tell that it mattered to them.  It made me remember having camp counselors when I went to day camp as a child — I always thought they were the coolest, and it felt good to be able to give that back. That might be the most influential and important part of this program — the ability to give kids that positive adult influence.

SAT prep

I taught SAT Prep. Rising seniors like Antonio spent a lot of class time writing.

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Summer Soccer Scholars Study Science, Journalism, and More

SBU Summer Scholars Canoeing at Orchard Beach Lagoon

For the fourth consecutive summer, South Bronx United’s Summer Soccer Scholars took to the classroom, the soccer field, and even the water.  The five-week program served 80 boys and girls, ages 11-18, most of whom participate in the SBU Academy program, and was held at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports on the Mott Haven High School Campus.

Studying for SATsEvery Monday through Thursday, the summer scholars attended three classes, including Environmental Science, Journalism, and Life Skills.  The Life Skills class was offered through a partnership with Changing The Odds at the Morris Heights Health Center and their Teen Outreach Program.  Classes were taught by college interns who spent seven weeks of their summer learning on the job.  The interns, who attended schools including Hunter College, Fordham University, New York University, Colorado College, SUNY Binghamton, and the University of Pennsylvania, took the opportunity to share their college experiences with their SBU students.

Fridays brought field trips that gave scholars the chance to bond and to travel beyond their neighborhoods.  Trips included Coney Island, Bear Mountain State Park, Orchard Beach, Six Flags Great Adventure, and Fordham University pool and field day.  Students with the best attendance for the entire program were rewarded with free tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park.

During classes, students produced a program news magazine and participated in service learning through the beautification of the DeVanney Triangle with the Bronx is Blooming.  In Environmental Science, students investigated human’s impact on the environment and experimented through soil and water testing.  The course culminated with a trip to the Tiorati Nature Center at Lake Tiorati, Harriman State Park.  The Bank Street College of Education‘s science director took students on an exploration of the natural environment and led the ensuing discussions.

Many students looked forward most to afternoon soccer training.  This was particularly taxing for many  youth fasted from food and water during the day in observance of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fast which coincided with the first two weeks of the program.  Twice a week, scholars participated in technical-focused soccer trainings.  Each Tuesday and Thursday brought the much anticipated SBU Summer Soccer Scholars World Cup which pitted all the plays on the field against one another.  Nepal prevailed in a hard fought victory 2-1 over Guam in the finals on a stoppage time goal.  For the students, one of the most exciting days involved a surprise visit from Spanish World Cup player David Villa, the star signing of New York City FC, the newest team of Major League Soccer.

Over the next few weeks, check back at sbUNITE! for some first-hand experiences this summer from SBU youth scholars and summer mentors.  South Bronx United thanks everyone who helps make this program possible, including all the summer staff and interns who dedicated their time; individual, corporate, and foundation donors who continue to support SBU; the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports and Mott Haven HS Campus; the NYCDOE Office of School Food and Summer Meals Program; Changing the Odds at Morris Heights Health Center; the Bronx is Blooming; New York City FC; Fordham University; Bank Street College of Education; and countless others.

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My Year in Review: SBU Boys U12 Ups and Downs

by Joan Roque, 12

Our team won this trophy from our indoor league.

South Bronx United’s Under-12 Boys had a great year in 2013-2014.  It was our first year as a team. For some of my teammates it was their first year playing for a travel team.  Even though we had some bad games, we became better as a team.  Throughout the season, we had ups and downs.  We would argue and not communicate on and off the field.  But when we trained as a team, our season became a whole lot better, in my opinion.

This spring season, our best and most memorable game was the first.  It was our best game because this was the first time that the team played in Division A.  It was against Brooklyn Juniors.  We were 2-0 down trying to tie it up, but every time we scored they scored too.  In the last 5 minutes of the match we were 4-6 down, but in these 5 minutes we scored three goals winning the match 7-6.  It was memorable because we worked as a team.

Me in a game at Pier 40 (Photo by my brother, Rocky)

But we had downs too.  One of our lowest moments was when we faced DUSC.  We were losing 2-0 and then 3-0.  In the second half we tied it up 3-3, and we scored another so we were winning 4-3.  The worst part was them scoring two goals in three minutes causing us to lose the game.

During those games, I think Samuka was a solid defender even though he usually plays in the midfield.  He saved us a couple of times in games like the opening game with Brooklyn Juniors, and he came in and took the ball away cleanly.  Prince was our top scorer with 39 goals.  I can’t think of a game when he did not score this season.

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2nd Annual SBU Charity Cup Brings Soccer Players to the Bronx while Raising Crucial Funds for South Bronx Youth Program

2014 SBU Charity Cup Champions "Full Turbo" celebrate with three South Bronx United youth.

BRONX, NY – The 2nd Annual SBU Charity Cup was held on Saturday July 12th, bringing out 12 adult soccer teams and 130 players to compete for the purpose of raising money for South Bronx United’s youth soccer, education, mentoring, and health and wellness programs.  Macombs Dam Field at the doorstep of Yankee Stadium provided the perfect venue for the day.   The Charity Cup was organized by the organization’s Junior Board and the SBU Supporters Club, a community actively dedicated to the South Bronx United’s mission of using soccer as a tool for social change by raising awareness, attending events, volunteering and providing financial support.  The day raised over $8,000 for South Bronx United youth programs serving children and youth ages 4-19.

Competing teams including Major League Soccer’s front offices; Third Rail SC, an official New York City FC Supporters Club; and PlaySoccer2Give, a New York City organization that raises money and awareness for soccer-oriented charities through adult soccer games and tournaments.  The games were competitive throughout with both the reigning champions, the Fighting Pelicans, and the SBU Supporters Club team getting knocked out in the group stage on goal difference.  In the championship game, Full Turbo, featuring South Bronx United volunteer coach Ithti Ulit, met With A Vengeance, led by SBU Board Treasurer Wilson Calle and SBU Alum Mingoro Fanny in goal.  Full Turbo prevailed 3-1 in a hard fought match.

Westchester Square Physical Therapy, National Discount Tires and Wheels Bronx, and The Royal NYC all returned as partner sponsors for the the 2014 SBU Charity Cup.  For more information about the annual event, contact info@sbusupporters.org.

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