SBU Academy Class of 2016

The SBU Academy Class of 2016 is graduating this month! Our graduates have committed to the following colleges, so far:

Ousman Ceesay, Morrisville State
Abou Diaby, Suffield Academy (Post-Graduate)
Samba Doukhansy, SUNY Potsdam
Nourou Gaiya, University of Albany
Edward Gbekie, Ithaca College
Destiny James, Fairfield University
Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene, Bates College
Musa Konteh, Siena College
Mohamed Ndour, Wabash College
Brandon Paniagua, SUNY Purchase
Salim Sidique, Loomis Chaffee School (Post-Graduate)
Owen Smith, Sarah Lawrence College
Mamadou Traore, University of Bridgeport
Abdoulie Waggeh, Wabash College

This list will grow as several students are completing their New York State Regents Exams this week and next with hopes of scoring high enough to gain admission to four-year colleges in the City University of New York system.  Otherwise they still plan on attend community colleges within the New York City.   Check back here for updated commitments.

To learn more about their individual stories, follow #SeniorsOfSBU on the South Bronx United Instagram page.

Congratulations to all the SBU Academy graduates!

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SBU 6th Annual Literacy Day: The Joy of Reading Comes to the Soccer Pitch

02BRONX, NY — On Saturday, May 14 families and students of all ages gathered at Macombs Dam Park to participate in South Bronx United’s 6th Annual Literacy Day, an event that coincided with the organization’s soccer Recreational Program.  The event, held to promote literacy and motivate youth to read, provided an opportunity for families to take home free books.

From Dr. Seuss to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, families could choose from a wide variety outlitday of the over 1,500 books that were donated. This year’s donors included Penguin Random House, Better World Books, Candlewick Press, Abbeville PressThe Association of American Publishers, Hachette Books, and Peachtree Publishers.  Literacy Partners, a nonprofit that carries out literacy and ESOL programs, also contributed by informing participants about the importance of families reading together.  As she was gathering books for her children, one mother said, “This is so wonderful, this is just great, I’m always pushing my kids to read, and now I have the books to help them do so.”

litday2Additionally, Literacy Day also incorporated reading circles as a part of the Recreation activities.  Before each game, players and coaches sat down to read a story and talk about its significance.  For younger groups, players read Goal by Mina Javaherbin.  The story follows a group of boys in a South African Township and the bullies who try to steal their only soccer ball.  Older groups read soccer stories from author Fred Bowen or an article from the Atlantic on how, in soccer, a player’s size doesn’t restrict him or her from playing.  Girls teams had the chance to read excerpts from Alex Morgan’s autobiography Breakaway: Beyond the Goal and her youth fiction series, The Kicks.  The reading circles were designed to show kids how reading can help kids relate to and understand the experiences in their own lives.

About the event, one of the SBU youth leaders, Matilda Kojac, who volunteered at the event said “I feel this is important because literacy is the foundation of learning. We are helping people obtain books in a world where not everyone has that opportunity.”

South Bronx United is grateful to all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible. Contact info@southbronxunited.org for information on how to support future events.

View more photos from the event on SBU’s Facebook page

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South Bronx United named a Sports 4 Life Grant Recipient by the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW

Sports4Life_201604_2x1New York, NY (May 5, 2016) – The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) teamed up with espnW to announce today that South Bronx United, based in Bronx, NY, is a 2016 recipient of a “Sports 4 Life”program. In a national effort to increase participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in youth athletics, WSF has awarded $194,250 in Sports 4 Life funding to 40 organizations this spring and is estimated to serve more than 10,000 middle and high school students. Meet the 2016 grant recipients here: http://bit.ly/26UvmKL.

The Sports 4 Life program is serving an unprecedented 40 organizations this year. The 35 latest grantees will join five programs that have previously been awarded funding, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Pueblo County (California), Girls in the Game (Illinois), The Charm City Youth Lacrosse League (Maryland), Detroit PAL (Detroit), Play Like A Girl! (Texas). These community programs demonstrate how this national support can be used to grow sports participation for girls who are underrepresented in athletics.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation has seen time and again the positive impact of sports in young girls lives, whether it is teaching them how to be leaders, how to solve conflicts and work in a team, or how to care for their bodies and minds in a healthy and balanced way,” said Angela Hucles, WSF president and two-time Olympic and World Cup medalist in soccer. “We’re proud to partner with espnW in our mission to provide girls in underserved communities the opportunity to play sports. Cost, safety or transportation will no longer be an obstacle for these girls to get in the game.”

By making sports more accessible, Sports 4 Life allows young females the chance to learn the foundational benefits of sports, such as leadership, confidence, self-esteem and perseverance. Survey results from girls in organizations receiving Sports 4 Life funding in 2015 found 92 percent felt confident or somewhat confident about their body and 93 percent felt their body was getting healthier.

Laura Gentile, senior vice president, espnW and Women’s Initiatives at ESPN said, “Across ESPN and the industry as a whole, we see the significant impact that sports can have on women’s everyday lives. Urban girls, especially girls of color, face unique barriers to sports participation so we are proud to expand opportunities to young girls around the country through our partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation.”

2015 Sports 4 Life program participant Aliyyah Miller said the additional confidence she’s gained from playing sports “has given me a reason to have faith in myself, and to believe that I could be successful. The first time I scored a goal I couldn’t believe it. Then I kept practicing and it kept happening. It’s a good example of what can happen when you put in the work.”

The vast majority surveyed (95 percent), plan to be involved with sports and exercise as an adult, placing themselves at a lower risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular diseases. All of these conditions are more prevalent among African-American and Hispanic females who display lower athletic participation rates and higher barrier to entry in sports.

Since the inception of the program in 2015, there have been 82 total grants awarded to 77 organizations, with five repeat grant recipients.

The Foundation will begin accepting applications for 2017 this fall. For information and timelines about the 2017 grant cycle, please continue to visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.

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The Women’s Sports Foundation — the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports — is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, our work shapes public attitude about women’s sports and athletes, builds capacities for organizations that get girls active, ensures equal opportunities for girls and women, and supports physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles. The Women’s Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and is recognized globally for its leadership, vision, expertise and influence.

espnW serves women who love sports. espnW.com provides an engaging environment that offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and shares a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women. Founded in July, 2010, espnW lives across television, films, events, digital and social platforms. The annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit is the leading event of its kind in the sports industry. The Women’s Sports Foundation is a charity of choice for espnW. 

Contact:

Ryan Oliver,  Zeno Group/Women’s Sports Foundation, at Ryan.Oliver@zenogroup.com  For SBU, email Sara Conley at sara@southbronxunited.org

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SBU Hosts annual Literacy Day on May 14th

literacy_day_girls

BRONX, NY–South Bronx United will hold its 6th annual Literacy Day to encourage children and youth to become active readers. Over 450 boys and girls aged from 4-16 years old are expected to attend the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 14th at Macomb’s Dam Field across from Yankee Stadium.

In previous years, Literacy Day has allowed children in the community to take part in raffles, games, and reading sessions where over 1,000 books were available for families to take home. Reading groups were sectioned by teams, with specific soccer related books being read to each group by youth leaders. Books that were featured in the past have been Young Pele Soccer’s First Star, The Wild Soccer Bunch and Mia Hamm’s Winner’s Never Quit.

Families sorting through donated books to take home.

Families sorting through donated books to take home.

The tradition will continue with this upcoming Literacy Day where high school students in the SBU Academy as well as coaches will hold reading circles with elementary school children.  After the reading circles, children will be able to take home the featured books for free and will be able to engage in various games and activities. This year, books have been generously donated by Penguin Random House, Association of American Publishers, Candlewick Publishing, WorldVision, Abbeville Press, Better World Books, as well as individual donors.

In addition to the reading circles, the older children will engage in discussions based on specific articles and topics.  The Bronx branch of the New York Public Library will also be in attendance, hosting an info table and leading various literacy workshops. At the end, children of all ages and parents will have the opportunity to take home a variety free books courtesy of our many generous donors.

Girls reading group.

Girls reading group.

If you have books you can donate, please bring to Macombs Dam Field (across from Yankee Stadium, map to 1 E 161st Street, Bronx, NY 10451) on Saturday, May 7th or May 14th between 9am and 2pm, or contact us at info@southbronxunited.org or (718) 404-9281. South Bronx United thanks all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible.

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My Freshman Year

kevin

Kevin (bottom right) with a group of LIU freshmen.

My first day at Long Island University was exciting not only because it was the first day of my college career, but also because it was my birthday. I never celebrate my birthday in the morning, but I had to make an exception this year because I needed to move in quickly before classes started.

Moving into a dorm wasn’t easy emotionally.  At the beginning of the college process, my parents had wanted me to choose a school where I could still be living at home. I wanted to experience something new while attending a higher educational institution. Talking to them and convincing them was the hardest part of it all, but now I’m glad they support the decision I made to leave home.  Even so, it was difficult realizing how fast I was growing up and that living on my own would be a huge responsibility. No one will be there to wake me up, make sure I eat breakfast, or make sure I do my homework.

Meeting my roommate was something I was looking forward to.  Before actually seeing each other, we communicated through email.  And when we met in person I was relieved that there was still a great connection.  After all, this wa the person I would be sharing a room with for the next six months. We talked about the college process, our likes and dislikes.  

Transitioning from a high school mindset to a college mindset is a difficult process and, after six months, I’m still going through it. It definitely requires more time in studies and less time in things I like to do for fun. For example, I like to be fit and play soccer and basketball, but it’s difficult to do these things when you stay up late doing homework or studying for a test only to wake up early in the morning. After classes are done your body feels drained, and I want to take a nap. English and Math require a lot of time outside of the class. It all matters how well you can manage your time. I thought having a job would affect my studies, but I actually was able to do my coursework on the job. I worked in the weight room, which was a laid back job.  I would get up every 15-20 minutes to walk around and put things where they belong, and then I could go back to my studies.

In my first semester I took classes in five departments: English, Math, Economics, Psychology, and Post 101. I met a lot of people from all over the world who shared interesting and amazing stories with me. Although, some classes I found more difficult than others, such as Psychology.  I persevered, though, and continued with the class, improving my grade at the end of the semester. I’m really looking forward to starting my next semester because I challenged myself to take difficult courses.  Classes have also helped my discover what I’m interested in as a career.  I felt that declaring a major was a life changing decision, and it’s very difficult to know what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 17 or 18. But throughout the college process I got a chance to talk to people who work in a particular field. I feel like that was a huge help as I explored options.  So far, I have decided to major in finance and minor in fashion merchandising.  I want to seek in joining a business group next semester and be more active on campus.

Overall, my college experience as a freshmen has been overwhelming. From a financial point of view, it was a big decision for me and my parents, and every little amount counts.  This is why I want to give a big thank you to PlaySoccer2Give for the scholarship. It has helped me cover car expenses, and will help me cover other financial problems I may face during my college career. I also want to thank South Bronx United for making a scholarships available to me and my teammates.        

xxx

Kevin Anchundia graduated from the High School for Computers in Technology in 2015. He is a recipient of the SBU – PlaySoccer2Give scholarship, that honors one South Bronx United graduate who demonstrates the power of soccer to do good.

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2016 City Showcase and Symposium Coming in March

South Bronx United and DUSC players after the Boys U17 final

South Bronx United and DUSC players after the Boys U17 final

BRONX, NY—For three days in March, South Bronx United will once again turn all attention to showcasing its high school student-athletes on the soccer field and connecting them with resources around college athletic recruitment and college admissions at the City Showcase.  South Bronx United hosts the 2016 City Showcase Tournament and Symposium on March 24-26, 2016.  Almost 2,000 boys and girls, ages 15-19, are expected to compete in the tournament, representing 100 teams from the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, and Canada.

2015 City Showcase Symposium panel

2015 City Showcase Symposium panel

The mission of the City Showcase is to provide inner-city and minority youth, who are underrepresented in higher education and college soccer, a platform to be recruited by college coaches and the information needed to access college.   In addition to two days of games on the Friday and Saturday, the Student-Athlete Symposium will welcome participating youth and local high school students to the City University of New York on the evening of March 24th.  The event will feature panels, workshops, and informational tables on college soccer recruitment, college access programs, college admissions, financial aid, and more.

Former South Bronx United goalkeeper Tony Villegas, now attending Alfred University in upstate New York, highlights the importance of combing college prep with the soccer aspects of the event: “Being the first to go to college in my family is a very big deal; Soccer taught me discipline, taught me team work, helped me become the person who I am right now, and I never gave up and that is something soccer has a lot to do with.”

This year, the tournament will also feature a New York City FC goalkeeping clinic featuring instruction from U.S. Youth National Team Goalkeeper Coach, Ruben Martin Garcia.  The clinic presents an opportunity  for goalkeepers participating in the tournament to gain additional exposure to college coaches

Claudio Reyna speaking at the 2014 City Showcase Symposium

Claudio Reyna speaking at the 2014 City Showcase Symposium

South Bronx United’s first college showcase tournament was held in 2010 on Easter Weekend at Macombs Dam Field moving to Randalls Island one year later. In 2014, South Bronx United partnered with Downtown United Soccer Club (DUSC) and rebranded the event as the City Showcase Tournament.  Last year, the event attracted 96 boys and girls teams including some of the top youth teams from New York State as well as teams from Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Canada.  South Bronx United fields 4-5 teams in the bracket each year.  Over 90 college coaches registered to attend.  The Student-Athlete Symposium has also featured guest speakers including former USA Men’s National Team Captain Claudio Reyna and New York City FC player and Fordham University graduate Ryan Meara as well as panelists varying from admissions officers to college coaches at all levels.

The City Showcase is one of the most affordable college showcase tournaments in the Northeast.   Teams interested in the event can apply until February 29th at www.cityshowcasetournament.org.  College coaches can register to attend online as well.  Sponsors include the City University of New York, CUNY Athletic ConferenceGrowth Through Sport, SoccerRecruits.comAB Sports Zone, and Westchester Square Physical Therapy.

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Young and Muslim

youngandmuslimIt is Monday morning at 4:30 am and the sun is hardly up.  But, if you are a dedicated Muslim, you’ve already risen to take your morning ablution and prayer, and gone back to bed.  If you are a dedicated Muslim child, like Kalifalah Kenneh, you have done all of this and still have to get to school on time.

Kalifalah is an 8th grader living in the South Bronx. He has one brother and one sister.  He plays soccer for South Bronx United and plays drums in his middle school orchestra.  He enjoys video games and staying true to his Islamic faith.  We interview Kalifalah during Ramadan to ask about his experiences being young and Muslim in the Bronx.

Kaliflalah said that some of the biggest social challenges he faces are “…the usual terrorist comment, going outside in religious attire, and not fitting in with your friends who are most likely one ethnic group.”  He explained that as he grows up he is learning to deal with these challenges as well as new obstacles that come with age.

Kalifalah was brought up very religiously.  His mother, who moved to New York from Guinea, and father, who moved from Liberia, are his biggest influences.  His father is an Iman, a Muslim leader or chief for the local mosque.  He is one of the most respected Imans, if not the most respected, in Kalifalah’s community.  This puts a great deal of pressure on Kalifalah’s shoulders.

We asked Kalifalah if his expectations for his future differ from his father’s expectations for him? He explained, “since we were brought up during different times and in different countries, what he has planned for me contradicts my ‘American Dream’.  But we settle it out by having many periodic talks and making compromises.”

Being young and Muslim is not easy, especially during Ramadan, when you have to fast all day and stay active at school.  “Your faith is challenged when you have to make certain choices.”  He said, “In my case, I had to decide if I wanted to go to my 8th grade prom [during Ramadan].  After evaluating the pros and cons, I decided not go to for the sake of my faith.”

Kalifalah has many goals and aspirations for his future.  Among them, is to go to college in America and finish the Quran after graduation.

Photographs and story by Ayouba Swaray and Kalifalah Kenneh.  Kalifalah is now attending Clinton High School  and living in the Village of Clinton, New York as part of the Community School Program through A Better Chance.

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Adjusting to College

Estefani after receiving the 2015 South Bronx United College Scholarship, with SBU Executive Director Andrew So.

Estefani after receiving the 2015 South Bronx United College Scholarship, with SBU Executive Director Andrew So.

My first semester at Bronx Community College was not really what I expected college to be. After being in high school for four years, I had grown accustomed to having the same schedule everyday and seeing friends in every class.  College was not like that. I picked my own classes, including the times and then it was all up to me.

Even though I had already taken college courses in high school, I had this weird feeling in my stomach.  I knew college professors were not like high school teachers.  When my first professor walked into the class, she was so happy and smiling it made me wonder if I was in the wrong class, but she took attendance and called my name.   I also hadn’t expected college to be so diverse.  I was in a classroom full of people I never imagined I would be in a class with. Some people were already parents,  and some were going back to college for the second time. I was actually one of the few that just recently graduated high school in my class.

This semester I’m taking four courses. Sociology, Art , pharmacology and my remedial reading class. I want to get in to the nursing program but, first, I have to take all the prerequisite classes. Nursing is one of the hardest programs to get into. You have to push yourself to get in the program, and, if you get in, the program itself is very intense. My pharmacology class was one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever taken. Many people asked me, “Why are you taking that course in your first semester of college?” Well, I’m always up for a challenge.

I’m the first generation in my family to ever go to college. I want to make my family proud of me, and I want to be proud of myself as well. My mom was excited that she finally was able to tell family members and friends that her daughter is a college student.  My mom has really impacted my decisions in school.  The reason I’m majoring in nursing is because of her and my younger brother.  My brother was born three weeks premature because of a medical condition my mother had. He ended up being taken to the NICU.  I saw how the nurses took care of my brother and realized I wanted to do the same for other babies.

While there are challenges to college–I used to play soccer everyday, for example, but now I’m so caught up in my school work that I barely have time to play or practice–I am so happy and fortunate to be in this position.

Estefani graduated in 2015 from University Heights High School and the SBU Academy.  She is a recipient of the South Bronx United College Scholarship.

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South Bronx United part of Cityzens Giving Campaign

CityzensGiving

South Bronx United youth leaders carry out a Cityzens Giving program in May 2015.

BRONX, NY –South Bronx United has been announced as one of six projects taking part in Cityzens Giving, a global charitable initiative that uses the power of soccer to change lives.  The initiative helps create a fund that is split between six organizations chosen from around the World.

South Bronx United first partnered with Cityzens Giving in March, 2015.  One of the South Bronx United youth leaders who helped initiate the program, Mohamed Camara, reflects on it’s inception, “I grew up in the South Bronx, which has one of the most diverse immigrant communities in New York City.   It is home to many West Africans and South Americans, basically people who are most familiar with the game of football. For this reason, I believe that football can have a big impact on my community, because it’s one thing that truly brings people together. Besides, having this program in my community is a good way for kids to have fun and stay healthy.”

Run in partnership with City Football Group, whose family of Club’s include New York City Football Club, Manchester City Football Club and Melbourne City Football Club, Cityzens Giving supports young leaders in cities around the world to tackle tough challenges affecting their communities.

Through this partnership, another SBU youth leader, Brenda Casimiro, had the opportunity to participate in the Global Youth Summit in Manchester, England this past June.  At the summit, Casimiro talked with other youth leaders about the general challenges the South Bronx community faces, and specifically about mitigating obesity by using soccer to motivate young kids.

To face these challenges, young leaders from South Bronx United deliver football based projects that promote youth leadership and health awareness in the community.  When asked why people should support South Bronx United, Camara replied, “soccer turns dreams into reality.”

By voting, fans have the power to decide how much funding each project receives. To make a difference in the lives of over 850 boys and girls in the South Bronx, cast your vote here.

xxx

Brenda Casimiro, 18, played for the SBU Rising Stars and currently attends Borough of Manhattan Community College. Read more about Brenda’s experience at the Global Youth Summit here.

Mohamed Camara, 19, played for the SBU Blue Devils and currently attends Sarah Lawrence College. 

They both in appear in the video that is linked above.

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Liberty Sport and South Bronx United Partnership

FAIRFIELD, NJ – Liberty Sport is excited to announce a sponsorship with South Bronx United to supply sports protective eyewear to the students and athletes while providing opportunities to educate them on the importance of eye protection. Striving to make a difference by engaging at-risk and immigrant youth through their passion for soccer, South Bronx United serves over 800 boys and girls aged 4-19 with a variety of programs from academic and leadership to recreational and competitive youth soccer.

As part of the sponsorship, Liberty Sport will provide custom ‘South Bronx United’ frames, with a complete Rx to the athletes and they will also be available for purchase. Liberty Sport will have a display at the Annual Health and Wellness fair to help grow awareness on the need for sports protective eyewear and provide educational materials to the students and parents. In addition, South Bronx United student-athletes will also have the opportunity to provide direct product feedback to the Liberty Sport Product Development Team.

 “It’s great to partner with an organization like the South Bronx United, in generating awareness and providing a service to the local community. We enjoy having the opportunity to support our advocates and athletes, and we are looking forward to a long-lasting partnership,” says Daniel Chang, Manager of Sports Organizations Outreach at Liberty Sport.

 The My Spex Collection from Liberty Sport provides ASTM F803 certified impact protection for several sports. Patented eye rim assembly and 6-base lens curve design allows for a wide range of prescription lens powers and the sculpted temple design has color coordinated inside padding. The customization program allows for the placement of a specific team name and number and is available in Matte Black, Matte Crimson, Matte Electric Blue, Matte Hunter Green and Matte Navy.

To learn more about outreach and sponsorship opportunities, contact Liberty Sport at outreach@libertysport.com.

To learn more about South Bronx United visit www.southbronxunited.org.

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About Liberty Sport, Inc.

Liberty Sport is the leading manufacturer and distributor of sports protective and sun performance eyewear and functions as the Complete Rx Sport Vision Resource. Our dedication to research, engineering and technology places Liberty Sport on the cutting edge of Rx’able protective eyewear solutions for sports of all kinds and continues to expand its reach into motorcycling. With distribution through eye care professionals and leading optical chains worldwide, Liberty Sport has been proudly servicing the optical industry since 1929. To view the full range of eyewear solutions, visit www.libertysport.com.

About South Bronx United

South Bronx United is a nonprofit, youth development organization that uses soccer to engage community youth and support the South Bronx community. South Bronx United serves over 800 boys and girls aged 4-19 combining recreational and competitive youth soccer with academic enrichment, college prep, mentoring, health and wellness promotion, leadership development, immigrant legal services, and other social services.  South Bronx United aims to make a difference in the community by engaging at-risk and immigrant youth through their passion for soccer. To learn more visit www.southbronxunited.org.

 

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