SBU Alumnus Update: Gnim Bazim

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Gnim Bazim (center) with teammates.

Growing up, I always dreamt of attending college to play soccer and become a lawyer to help make a difference in my community. From my very first year of high school, college was something that felt a long time away. But time has quickly passed and I am proud to say that I have completed my very first semester at Kenyon College!

To be completely honest, the beginning of my first semester was rough. It was much harder than I expected. With the academic workload, grueling daily soccer practices and working a campus job, I was not sure I’d make it. Instinctively, I realized I had been through something similar in the past while at South Bronx United and boarding school. As a participant of SBU, I had a lot of commitments in and out of school. SBU taught me how to properly balance my time between school, late soccer practices, volunteering and work.

Through SBU, I was given the chance to attend Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania. Being there also taught me several lessons- some similar and some different than SBU. I look at it like this: SBU gave me the tools to succeed at prep school and prep school gave me the tools to eventually succeed at Kenyon College.

So far, my college career has given me even more opportunities to reflect upon my life and the people in it. I appreciate my mother even more for working hard every day so that I could focus on school and soccer. I appreciate the coaches, tutors, mentors and donors of South Bronx United who dedicate their time and effort to getting kids like me off the streets and into great universities. I appreciate Mercersburg Academy for all the friendships and memories I created while there.

Now, when I feel stressed, down, unhappy, or homesick, I think of the people in my life who love me and want nothing but for me to succeed; I think about all my former coaches, tutors, and teachers who helped prepare me for college; I think about what my mother goes through daily and I realized I am not going to college just for myself, but I am also going for the people who helped get me to this point and believed in me.

After the first month of my first semester, I was finally able to adjust to my new college life. I now find enjoyment in my classes, playing soccer and working a campus job. I am very grateful to be where I am today.

To those of you who are a part of South Bronx United, I have a message for YOU! First, appreciate those who work or volunteer to help you be a successful student. The coaches at SBU would love to see you go to a college and continue to play soccer at a higher level. Second, live in the moment. I was in your shoes not too long ago and, even though I have moved on and I am happy, I wish I still had the opportunity to play league games in the city with my brothers. And third, never give up on your dreams, whether its becoming a soccer player, a lawyer, or any other profession.

This dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of South Bronx United. I am very grateful to have found SBU and to have been a part of a life changing organization.

Written by Gnim Bazim. 

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One Evening, One Huge Impact: The SBU 7th Annual Benefit

benefit 2017

On November 16, 2017 at the Midtown Loft and Terrace, South Bronx United held its 7th Annual Benefit. More than 330 guests attended and the event raised $105,000, making it the organization’s first ever six-figure fundraising event.

The night was hosted by Roger Bennett, best known as the co-host of Men in Blazers with Michael Davies.


Bennett shared the stage with the evenings honoree, Jon Patricof, President of New York City FC. Patricof was named president of NYCFC in January of 2016 and recently completed his second successful season with the club. As part of his off-the-field initiative, Patricof and NYCFC has partnered with the New York City Soccer Initiative to build 50 mini soccer pitches in underserved communities throughout the five boroughs, including the South Bronx. Through that initiative, he visited an SBU after school program site to see firsthand South Bronx United programs in action.

2017 honorees

the organization’s 2017 Youth Honoree was South Bronx United Alum, Mohamed Camara (Watch his video). After immigrating to the Bronx at age 13 with his family to escape the civil war in Guinea, Camara joined South Bronx United as a way to feed his passion for soccer and stay busy to overcome the daily challenges of growing up in the Bronx. The 21-year-old junior at Sarah Lawrence College is an Honor Roll student, led the Gryphon’s Men’s Soccer Team in scoring the past two seasons, and was honored by Sarah Lawrence College with the Emerging Leader Award. In 2016, he served as the Youth Leader for the New York City FC’s City in the Community Program and the opportunity to attend the City Football group Global youth Summit in Manchester, England.

Camara, helped onto the stage while on crutches, explained that an injury prevented him from competing this season but he hasn’t slowed down. Upon graduation, this International Relations major wants to attend law school and dreams of working for the United Nations.

The night continued with a silent auction, live auction, live raffle drawing, and call to action for guests to support SBU’s programs for immigrant youth. In his Remarks, Executive Director Andrew So emphasized that the organization’s work has become more important over the past 12 months as their youth and families have become threatened by changes in federal laws and statements from the oval office. He alluded to new federal policies on immigration (particularly DACA and TPS) actions to silence social justice activism on the athletic field, and the end of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

raffle auction

The night was a success due to guests who believe in the mission of South Bronx United. The funds raised will help South Bronx United continue to promote educational achievement, health and wellness, and character development through activities on and off the soccer field, and provide integral services to immigrant youth and families.

The night’s sponsors included New York City FC, Two Sigma, Bregal Partners, Barclays, The Third Rail, Dos Toros Taqueria, Pimco Foundation, InterFysio, Seat Geek, NYCFC Nation, Ellenoff Grossman Schole LLP, Open Society Foundations, and PJT Partners.

To see more photos from South Bronx United’s 7th Annual Benefit you visit the SBU Supporters Club Facebook page. You can learn more about the SBU Supporters Club at

For more information on South Bronx United, and how you can support our mission, please visit or call (718) 404-9281.

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Moving and Passing: Soccer, Poetry, and Social Justice collide


Performance Artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph partnered with SBU Summer Soccer Scholars program to create Moving and Passing, an intersection of community, education, and art that enabled Bronx youth to explore themes of social justice and immigration through poetry and their passion for soccer. This project was made possible by the Guggenheim Museum Social Practice Initiative.

Joseph’s curriculum was piloted as a five-week course for high school students facilitated by poet and teaching artist Mahogany L. Browne. The curriculum—titled M-PACT—is based on themes borrowed from Joseph’s performance /peh-LO-tah/ and uses art and poetry to focus on contemporary social and political issues. /peh-LO-tah/ shows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from October 18th through October 21st.

The artist, students, and teaching artist share reflections on the program in this video.

Students worked either alone or together in groups to create the poems. They chose social and political issues that resonated with their own lives.  Students had the opportunity to use soccer as a metaphor for real world issues and social justice. They skillfully related positions on the soccer field to represent roles in life, like “positions of power and oppression and positions of rebellions and revolution,” says Ms. Browne.

Anyone interested in learning how to bring these ideas and concepts into the lives of more kids should read about the curriculum in the teacher guide for /peh-LO-tah/. It is intended to help students respond to and form their own opinions about the important themes explored in the performance.

South Bronx United thanks the Mahogany L. Browne, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Guggenheim Museum Social Practice Initiative for making this possible!


/peh-LO-tah/ creator, Marc Bamuthi Joseph


Teaching artist, Mohogany Browne








Here are a few samples of the students’ poems:

Right Back
The right back is like a train track,
It helps the team get back on the attacking map,
They also defend and come quick like the flash.

Center back
Is usually the guardian,
The warrior of the field,
like a soldier in a war ready to give it all.
The man who gives it his all and gets the fans to applaud.

Left forward
The one who runs when long passes are given,
And the one who follows all the shots.
The one who tries to score when they can and
Put the ball in the back of the net.
The hard worker like a single mother.

By: Brisa, Roberto & Johnny


People all over the world sees/know,
about the famous sport
Not everyone has a chance to achieve there
Dream. But at least everyone has them.
It’s not easy & at least everyone gets to enjoy the sport.

The new generation allows both females and males to
Play, this sport that everyone enjoy. This sport
Brings, Trust, Responsibility, and Family.
Everyone being able to count on one another. This sport seems as
A community to most people.

Everyone has a weakness, and everyone has
Strengths as well. People will try to bring you
Down, hate on you and even try to lower
Your self-esteem.
It’s your job to show them that You’re
The better person and stand up to them.

This sport is not as easy as it seems, as everyone
Continues to play they learn to trust each other as a team. Teammates being As
A new family.
Everything might seem like a really big risk
When achieving something. Some might even say that the
Field is like their home.

By: Amaris Carrillo

soccer IS life

Soccer brings multiple people from around the world together,
It unites different cultures.
90 minutes filled with pure intensity,
Involving trust, faith, and communication.
In an atmosphere full of fans chanting your name,
Louder than a pack of roaring lions.

Once you step onto the pitch all your problems fade away.
Not worrying about anything but the ball.
There will be doubters throughout your journey wanting to see you starve,
There will be rough tackles, wrong decisions, and arguments,
But don’t let any of that get in the way of what you want most.

Prove those people wrong,
Make your people proud,
Because the day you hang your boots up,
Is the day you can say, “You made it.”
With or without motivation.

This all takes place in a stadium filled with fans wearing the team colors,
Chanting and signing,
Waving banners and flags,
Flares and confetti,
All for 90 minutes.
It’s, The beautiful game.

our community
the coach controls the team
he knows what is best
he might start off with a bad line up of defense like the protection system we have in our communities
this sport brings all different kinds of races together
just like our country
who now suffers for the discrimination of social class
coach tries to control the defense and the center mids
defense being the cops in our communities
the goalie being us, who can only use our hands to defend our goal
our goal being our home for many years
trying to protect it from our enemies the upper class
how can we the lower class go against the upper class
our mayor tries to control everyone so everyone may have a benefit

the ones with the most benefit are the forwards
forwards get all the fame from scoring the goal
the landlord gets all the money from scoring the goal on the goalie
who attempts to protect their home
once that goal is scored
they lose their home
the more the rent goes up
the more goals the landlord scores
the upper class the enemies make counter attack from this goal
now having an advantage

we are the goalies
we are the main ones affected by the forwards
the enemies then come to take over our home
where is the coach to help us
you expect us to have great paying jobs
to be able to pay this high rent for this old apartment in the city
you have raised the rent so high so the upper class can move in
now im without a home
well, the rent for this old apartment is too much
it’s a rip off
the government just places more obstacles in our way,
get a good pay job you say!

Its so easy to say
All these amnemities we have in our community
Are horrible and poor
Our education is bad
Our job oppurtunities are affected by it
So you tell me how!

You explain to me how!
What is our coach doing about this problem the goalie has
This field is so big yet so small
Its funny because
There is so much space in the suburbs but out of no where just because they wanna move into the city
Because they have the power they can

Why come take our homes?
The opponents really is counter attacking onto our side of the field
The coach doesn’t give us a plan to counter attack or help us
Even the goalie and the defense don’t get along so well
That’s a problem
This is the reason so many goals are being scored by our opponents

Bye bye goalie you’re moving to another team!



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SBU Health and Wellness Day 2017

BRONX, NY – On Saturday, September 9th, SBU kids and their families will gather at Macombs Dam Park to begin the first day of the SBU’s Recreational Soccer Program. This program has grown substantially over the past couple of years and now serves more than 900 boys and girls, ages 4-19, at  Macombs Field and two other sites, Mullaly Park and South Bronx High School.

Every year, this soccer-filled day is held in conjunction with the Annual Health and Wellness Fair. This year, 17 organizations will be present to deliver information about wellness topics ranging from legal aid and yoga to adolescent health and navigating through health insurance options. See the flyer below for all the organizations that will be in attendance.


Participating organizations include Hostos Community College, New York Road Runners, NYC Commission on Human Rights, Third Rail FC, Sauti Yetu, SBU Supporters Club, American Heart Association, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, Health People, Sweet Water Dance and Yoga, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, MASA, Community Service Society: Navigator Network, Bronx Children’s Museum, Grow NYC and Violence Intervention Program.

Join us for this health conscious day and begin taking steps forward to greater overall health and wellness. SBU thanks all the participating organizations as well as our generous sponsor, Fidelis Care, for making this day possible.

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SBU Annual Awards & BBQ


Bronx, NY – South Bronx United’s academic year ended with a bang on Thursday, June 29th, with the end of the year BBQ and Annual Awards Ceremony! Students, parents, coaches and staff members gathered in Mullaly Park for the festivities and enjoyed well-grilled burgers and hot dogs before the awards ceremony kicked off.

IMG_6180Multiple awards were up for grabs this year for our students, including MVPs, Scholar-Athletes and the inaugural SBU Spirit Awards. Also, four graduating seniors were awarded financial scholarships as they begin their respective college journeys. Below is a list of all students who were honored for their hard work throughout the 2016-2017 school year:

List of all awards and their respective student-athlete winner.

List of all awards and their respective student-athlete winner.

SBU Spirit Award Winners.

SBU Spirit Award Winners.

Three awards that deserve notable mention are SBU’s new Spirit Awards. These were given to students who embody SBU’s core values:

Show commitment – Sherif Traore

Bring Integrity – Jeany Martinez

Unite our Community – Chelsea Quito

At 6 PM the Staff vs Graduates games were announced and everyone headed off to Macombs for the Women’s & Men’s game. The Women’s game was an intense affair with the first half dominated by the graduates who scored three goals in quick succession. The staff came back fighting in the second half and almost pulled off a complete turnaround by scoring two in the second half. The game ended with a 3-2 win for the girl graduates.

The Men’s game was a cracker too with three lead changes and the graduates pulling off an amazing comeback after going down twice throughout the match. The staff team took the lead twice at 1-0 and 2-1, via Executive Director Andrew So. However the graduates came back to equalize with a beautiful strike from distance by Carlos Uzca with Junior Trujillo scoring the winner at 3-2.


We hope every year is as successful as this one was and know that there are great things to come in future years from SBU’s wonderful students!

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SBU Academy Class of 2017

An update on where SBU Academy Graduates are heading off to college this Fall!  Here’s the list:

Name School Commitment
Precious Agyeman-Badu University of Albany
Ramel Anderson SUNY Cobleksill
Evans Asamoah SUNY Plattsburgh
Gnim Bazim Kenyon College
Derrick Cordova College of Mount Saint Vincent
Abou Diaby Clarkson University
Xina Fajardo Hostos Community College
Jennifer Guzman Siena College
Cleefor Hernandez SUNY Plattsburgh
Miriam Hernandez Hostos Community College
Admir Jadadic Franklin & Marshall College
Matilda Kocaj Babson College
Jahirjary Lazaro Borough of Manhattan CC
Jeany Martinez SUNY Plattsburgh
Hamza Moudden Wabash College
Jesus Muniz SUNY Oswego
George Narvaez City College of NY
Abdel Ngoloure New York University
Daouda Nikiema Bronx Community College
Hyben Robles Hunter College
Abdoul Sangare Undecided (ASA College or Monroe College)
Suleman Sey John Jay College
Salim Sidique Southern New Hampshire University
Aminata Thiam College of Mt. Saint Vincent
Sherif Traore Borough of Manhattan CC
Junior Trujillo Borough of Manhattan CC
Geovani Urias City College of NY
Carlos Uzhca Borough of Manhattan CC
Mayra Zurita Undecided

Congratulations to all the SBU Seniors of 2017!

Aminata Thiam


“I’m looking forward to be able to grow and be part of a community and try to understand other people. I want to be able to get the college experience and be able to learn from it.” Aminata will be starting at the College of Mount Saint Vincent this Fall, where she plans to study nursing. Aminata was born in Guinea. She grew up in the Bronx, but also went back to Guinea for three years. Although she only joined South Bronx United this year, she will remember her trip to Virginia with the SBU Rising Stars fondly: “It felt so great because everyone was really working together as a team!” 

Jahirjary Lazaro

LazaroI want to major in writing. Ever since I was little, I loved to read and write. I just loved the feeling of writing stories and imagining everything in my head as I read. It’s fun for me.” Jahirary Lazard was born and raised in Manhattan and will be attending the Borough of Manhattan Community College this fall! Congratulations Jahirjary! 

Jeany MartinezJeany

“I was born in the Bronx, grew up in Florida and my family is from Guatemala. I can’t wait to start life in college and be independent.” Jeany Martinez looks forward to becoming a physician assistant at SUNY Plattsburgh this fall. 

Hyben  Hyben Robles

“I always liked physical therapy. I wanted to help people and thought it was interesting because there aren’t too many women in the field.” Hyben Robles on her hopeful major when she begins at Hunter College this fall. 

                       Daouda Nikiema


“My favourite thing about SBU is that they helped us with everything. I’m looking forward to studying business, trying out and playing soccer and meeting new people in college.” Daouda Nikiema is from Côte d’Ivoire. He joined South Bronx United in 2013 and will be starting at Bronx Community College this fall. 

Hamza Mouden


“I was born in NY, lived in Morocco for 14 years before coming back to New York 3 years ago. And I want to study electrical engineering. I was always interested in how things work and what was behind things like computers and phones – when I was a kid, I used to take them apart. I was curious about everything.” Hamza Mouden graduates from Manhattan Center for Math and Science and will be attending Wabash College in Indiana! He most looks forward to investing in and building lasting connections for the future when he starts college this fall. Hamza’s most memorable moment with SBU was the Cape Cod trip during his first year with the organization where he felt like his teammates became his brothers. 

Admir Jadadic


“I was born and raised in the Bronx. My favourite memory with South Bronx United was the trip to Cape Cod. It was more that just playing soccer. It was hanging out and fun with my team.” Admir Jadadic is majoring in business at Frankline Marshall College in Pennsylvania this fall. 


Suleiman SeySuleman

“My favourite memory with SBU was playing in the final last year. It was my first championship with SBU. Together we won three tournaments and one city cup. It’s then that I developed this confidence I have not to try and play soccer in college and professionally.” Suleiman Sey is from Gambia and is majoring in Sports Management at John Jay this fall. 

                                                Jesus Muniz


“I’m going to major in structural engineering. Math is my strong point; it comes easy to me. I’m curious to find out how things work and go together so it’s perfect.” Jesus Muniz is a New York native and is attending SUNY Oswego. Great job, Jesus! 

                                                                 Miriam HernandezMiriam

“I was born in the Bronx, but I’m from Mexico. My best SBU memory was my first game – I scored a goal!” Congratulations to Miriam Hernandez who will be majoring in early childhood developmental psychology and special education at Hostos. 

Junior TrujilloJunior

“I don’t know to be honest. South Bronx United is different because they treat you like #family. When you come to practice or you go to tutoring, everyone becomes more than just friends. It’s why I came back and they helped me grow into the person I am now.” Junior Trujillo on his favorite thing about SBU. He is majoring in criminal justice at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 

PreciousPrecious Agyeman-Badu

“So I’m from Harlem, but I lived in Ghana my entire life. And I rep the #Bronx because I live here now.” Precious Agyeman-Badu is excited to be majoring in criminal justice at the University of Albany in the fall. 


Ramel AndersonRamel

“I’m from Jamaica. In college, I’m most looking forward to meeting new people in college from difference countries and cultures.” Ramel Anderson will be attending SUNY Cobleskill to major in Information Technology. 

George Narvaez

“I would have to say my favorite memory from SBU would be winning the East New York Arch Capital Cup two years ago. We Georgehad lost the year before so it was nice winning!” George Narvaez is deciding between mechanical and electrical engineering at City College where he will be attending in the fall. 

Cleefor HernandezCleefor

“I really like world journalism. You know those foreign correspondents? My major is going to be communications.” Cleefor Hernandez moved to the United States from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when he was 10. This fall he will be starting his freshman year at SUNY Plattsburgh. 

Xina Fajardo

Xina Fajardo was born in New York and raised in Harlem, but she considers herself Xina“mostly Ecuadorian.” Both of her parents are from Ecuador. Xina is planning to start at Hostos Community College. She is interested in both nursing and business and hopes to figure it out over the next four years: “I’m actually looking forward to being independent and try to find myself. I guess I want to mature in my own way. I usually count on my parents so I want to follow my own way . I’m looking to become myself.”

Derrick Cordova

At the age of 15, without any family members, Derrick left La Ceiba, Honduras on a treacherous 2,000-mile trek to the United States. He followed in the path of thousands of other Central American youth, who were fleeing gangs, violence, and a lack of jobs and opportunities, to seek a better opportunity for themselves and their families. Derrick

At South Bronx United, his love for soccer enabled him to find family again and to gain the academic and social supports to overcome initial struggles in school. Derrick also led his South Bronx United team in scoring and will be competing on the men’s soccer team at the College of Mount St. Vincent this fall.

Derrick, 18, has been admitted to the College of Mount Saint Vincent on a full scholarship. “I’m studying nursing. My dream is to graduate and become a physical therapist so that I can stay involved in sports. I want to be able to help people. Back in my country the doctors were not that good. A good physical therapist could have helped a lot.”

 Gnim Bazim

Gnim Bazim joined SBU in 2010: “When I first came to South Bronx United, I was a reallyGnim@Benefit shy kid. I was someone who didn’t necessarily reach out and talk to many people.” “Two years ago, South Bronx United gave me a wonderful chance to attend a boarding school, Mercersburg Academy. I have travelled the world there. I have met people from all corners of the world. And it has helped me prepare for my next steps at Kenyon College next year.” His transfer to Mercersburg in Pennsylvania for his junior year of high school helped opened up many college options for him. He was born in Togo and moved to the Bronx with mother at the age of three.

He will now be attending Kenyon College on scholarship. He will also be competing for the school’s men’s soccer team. Gnim plans to study pre-law and hopes that he has set an example for future South Bronx student-athletes: “I hope other South Bronx United youth will follow my path.”

Sherif Traore

Sherif“When I first started SBU, I was shy. I didn’t know what I was expecting. I only came here two years ago. They helped me a lot whether it was in school or on the soccer field – all the great people that helped me from the beginning. I’m so thankful for that.” He will be pursuing engineering at Borough of Manhattan Community College this fall in hopes of building schools and hospitals in his home country of Burkina Faso.

Matilda KocajMatilda

Matilda Kocaj is heading to Babson College next year on a scholarship! Matilda earned this amazing opportunity as a Posse Foundation finalist. Several years after immigrating from Albania, who would have predicted this path?

Geovani Urias


“It would have to be my first game. We ended up winning, but it wasn’t about the game. It was only my first game and everyone was really welcoming and that’s when I knew I really liked these guys. I knew they were gonna be good teammates.” Senior, Geovani Urias on his favorite memory from his time with South Bronx United. He will be attending City College this fall.

 Salim SidiquSalime

“I moved to the Bronx on May 29, 2015 from Kumasi, Ghana. I live with my dad, stepmom, and six sisters. I’m the only boy. My mother still lives in Ghana. She is originally from Lebanon. I came here to have more opportunities and a better future. My experience so far has been great. Here there are a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. You learn from them…. Playing soccer and getting into a great school has been the biggest opportunity for me here. I’m very excited to have a different kind of experience. It’s going to be fun–learning to live on my own. Its not easy to get into this school, and I’m lucky to have the chance thanks to soccer and SBU. This helped me make it to a good school and make something of my life.” Salim Sidique, 17, will attend Southern New Hampshire University this fall!

Evans Asamoah


Born in the United States and raised in Ghana, Evans says “both cultures helped develop me who I am today.” Inspired by his uncle, he wants to become a dentist and will be majoring in Biology at SUNY Plattsburgh this fall!

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2,200 Books Donated + 600 Kids Reached = A Successful 7th Annual Literacy Day


BRONX, NY — On Saturday, May 20th, South Bronx United held its 7th Annual Literacy Day. Families, students, coaches and volunteers of all ages came together on three soccer fields in the South Bronx for a day focused on reading and literacy. Over 600 youth from SBU’s Recreational Program had the opportunity to participate in reading groups and take home free books.

Kids participating in a reading circle with their coach.

Kids reading Young Pele in a reading circle with their coach.

The day began with coaches for each age group reading featured soccer themed books to their players. SBU Academy youth leaders also helped facilitate reading groups. Reading circles promoted the joy of reading and used soccer stories to illuminate similar themes that are relevant in their own lives.

Reading circle discussion.

Youth leader, Jeany Martinez, leading a group discussion at South Bronx High School.


Youth leader, Chelsea Quito, leading a reading circle at South Bronx High School.

This year, featured books included Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Alex Morgan’s Breakaway: Beyond the Goal, Winner’s Never Quit by Mia Hamm, DK Biography: Pele by James Buckley and Soccer Sisters by Andrea Montalbano. The players enjoyed learning about famous soccer stars like Pele and Alex Morgan and engaged in thoughtful discussions with coaches and youth leaders after reading.

Author, player and coach, Andrea Montalbano with the Girls U11 team at Literacy Day 2017.

Author, player and coach, Andrea Montalbano with the Girls U11 team at Literacy Day 2017.

Girls in the U11 Division had a special guest appearance by Andrea Montalbano, author of Soccer Sisters: Out of Bounds. The book follows the main character, Makena Walsh and her talented soccer team, the Brookville Breakers. After a new player joins the team, Makena goes through a journey of changes trying to impress the new girl and learns a lot about herself in the process. The book has something any young athlete could relate to from team friendships to making difficult life decisions. After reading one chapter of the book, the U11 girls each received their own copy, donated by Sourcebooks and signed by Ms. Montalbano. Ms. Montalbano also shared a brief history about herself and how soccer impacted her life, answered questions and joined their practice. Her #Playitforwardproject Campaign encourages children to do good both on and off the field.

#sbuLitDay2017 at Macombs Dam Field

#sbuLitDay2017 at Macombs Dam Field

With over 2,000 books donated prior to the event and a couple hundred more donated on the day of by volunteer coaches and parents, a grand total of 2,200 books were available to choose from to continue reading at home. Parents were thrilled for the opportunity to encourage their kids to read. As he was sorting through the books, one father, Mr. Horta said, “This is a wonderful thing you guys are doing here. I look forward to it every year because I know my kids actually want read the books they take home.”

SBU hopes to inspire kids and parents to make reading a daily part of their lives. Along with their books, students also took home bookmarks and parents took home an informative sheet, noting several local organizations devoted to improving literacy rates in the South Bronx.




Kids looking through piles of books for their favorites!

South Bronx United thanks all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible. Book donors included: The Lisa Libraries, Kids Can Press, Abbeville Press, Inc., The Child’s World, Better World Books, Penguin Random House, Coughlan Company -Capstone, Reach Out and Read, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Sourcebooks, Quirk Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scarsdale Public Library and many individuals.

Contact for information on how you can support future events.

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7th Annual Literacy Day to be held on May 20th, 2017


BRONX, NY–South Bronx United will hold its 7th Annual Literacy Day on Saturday, May 20th, 2017. This scholarly event is held every year for the organization’s Recreational League to encourage youth in the community to become active readers by making reading a daily part of their lives.  SBU hopes to empower kids with the tools for success to improve the South Bronx community and it starts with improved literacy. Research has shown that early childhood literacy leads to better adult opportunities and improved outcomes. In fact, high quality early learning opportunities have been linked to increased likelihood of graduating high school, which is severely lacking in the South Bronx , with a mere 54% graduation rate.

Over 600 boys and girls from ages 4-16 years old are expected to attend the event, which will be held at 3 locations throughout the day: Macomb’s Dam Field, Mulally Park and South Bronx High School.

Last year, Literacy Day has allowed children in the community to take part in raffles, soccer games, and reading group sessions where approximately 1,000 books were available for families to take home. This year will be no different, except that book donations have been doubled to a superb 2,000 books and kids will also receive a bookmark to complement their new books.

Reading groups are typically led by coaches and youth leaders in the SBU Academy, many of whom also started in the Rec League and welcome the opportunity to give back to a program which has aided in their success. This year, featured books include Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star, Alex Morgan’s Breakaway: Beyond the Goal, Winner’s Never Quit by Mia Hamm and Soccer Sisters by Andrea Montalbano. Reading circles for older kids will use articles to engage them in discussions based on current soccer specific topics. soccer_sisters_logo1

Player, coach and author, Andrea Montalbano will also make a special appearance to the Girls U11 reading circle, where she will sign books,  answer questions and join in the soccer fun! Not only has Andrea written the Soccer Sisters series as a way to unite girls in sports, she has also created a movement to encourage girls and women to support each other on and off the field with “The Play it Forward Project.” This is a social media campaign that allows you to engage in random acts of kindness and then challenge friends and family to so the same by posting your good deed on social media, thereby ‘playing it forward.’

After the reading circles, children will be able to take home books for free and will also be able to engage in various games and activities. This day would not have been possible without the generous support of the following organizations and companies who invest in literacy just as much as we do:


If you have books you would like to donate, please bring them to Macombs Dam Field (across from Yankee Stadium) on Saturday, May 20th between 9am and 2pm or contact Lucy Dass at to schedule a donation pickup. South Bronx United thanks all the donors, volunteer, coaches and staff members who helped to make the event possible.

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Gnim Bazim: Where is He Now?

Gnim Bazim
Gnim Bazim has been part of South Bronx United for six years, joining the organization as a 12-year old. With the help of our Director of College Placement and Alumni, Tom DeMaio, Gnim is currently a senior at Mercersburg Boarding School in Pennsylvania on a full scholarship. In the Fall, he will be attending Kenyon College in Ohio – also on a full scholarship.

Gnim is originally from Togo, West Africa and emigrated with his parents to the Bronx when he was just three years old. He has one sister who is 12 years old and hopes to continue to be a positive role model and inspiration for her.  A friend recommended him to SBU, and he jumped at the chance to first join the recreational league.  He soon worked his way up to the travel team and SBU Academy.

As a young immigrant, he was very thankful to SoGnim Bazim3uth Bronx United for giving him the
chance to attend a boarding school, which increased his chances at getting into a great college. He says, “I prefer boarding school over the school I went to in the Bronx because I have teachers who genuinely care and, the smaller classes makes it easier to learn.” At Mercersburg, he has taken advantage of all the opportunities there are to ensure that he is living up to his full potential. He is currently the captain of the soccer and wrestling team, does track and field, is a dormitory prefect (similar to an R.A.) and is also a tour guide.

Regarding academics, he says “At first, I wanted to pursue medical field, but after taking a class and visiting the supreme court, I fell in love with history and the law.”  He now has an internship at a law firm in NYC this summer.

To him, his biggest accomplishment was getting a full scholarship to Kenyon College. Gnim truly embodies the student that we hope all SBU Academy students turn out to be. He places a great emphasis on school and his future and definitely makes time for some fun soccer games! And when he is not playing soccer or doing sports, he likes to watch movies and TV shows.

When asked what advice he would give to current SBU students, he says, “Sometimes it will seem hard to follow the daily routine of going to tutoring and then attending practice every week, but keep at it because in the end, it definitely pays off.”

His invGnim@Benefitolvement with SBU did not stop since he moved to Pennsylvania to attend Mercersburg. He volunteered as a tutor for the Summer Scholars Program for the past two years and was also the Youth Honoree at the SBU 5th Annual Benefit.

Overall, Gnim is very appreciative of all SBU has done for him over the past 6 years. “I want to give a big thanks to Andrew and Tom for helping me through the process of going to boarding school and soon – attending college. Everyone at SBU works hard for a good cause.”

Gnim Bazim will be attending Kenyon College in Fall 2017 on a full scholarship and will be playing competitive soccer.

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Students showcase work in SBU Karen Barth Arts Program


Collaborative Masterpiece by students in the Karen Barth Arts Program.

Bronx, NY – Several students in the SBU Karen Barth Arts Program collaborated to create unique works of art to showcase in front of friends and family at the Urban Assembly School last week. They drew from their passion for soccer and love for South Bronx United to make several smaller art works and then one collaborative masterpiece. The program currently consists of approximately 10 students, but is open to kids in the travel program as well as the recreational program and is taught by Beata Drozd, an art teacher.

The masterpiece, shown above, consists of a collage of images and words that express the feelings and thoughts of the students. From their favorite soccer players to the SBU logo to the flags of their countries of origin, the work of art truly highlights each individual student in a unique way.

Sharif Diaoune, a 7th grader, described it: “This masterpiece represents all of us as a community and unites us. For instance, we drew a soccer ball, which connects all of us together. We were offered by our wonderful teacher Ms. B to add political topics, but we respectfully disagreed because our piece is about community, love and happiness. In the center is the SBU logo, which means a lot to us.”


Sharif Diaoune (right) and Joshua Sanchez (left), talking about the work or art.


Other students expressed similar feelings about the masterpiece they created. Chelsea Quito, the only high school student in the arts program, said that the experience she had making the art was especially important to her since it provided her with an outlet to not only express herself, but to also work with the younger students and be a positive role model.


The students are currently working on a project that they will eventually enter, for a chance to be showcased, in the BronxWorks Art Exhibition later in the year. They will all choose one inspirational word, express their own individual feelings towards that word in any form of art and then combine it into one final piece. Ms. Drozd, their art teacher, or Ms. B, as the students call her, was very proud of the kids for not only creating all the wonderful art works, but also for explaining them so eloquently to others the night of the Art Gallery.

IMG_2843 IMG_2879


Ms. Beata Drozd with her students in the Art Program.

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