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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Soccer: A Tool to Communicate to the World

My journey in the sport of soccer has been filled with conversation. Whether I have a ball in my hand or not, the subject alone has been a starting point for thousands of small conversations and shared moments with people who I otherwise wouldn't have entertained me.

During a taxi cab ride in New York this past February, the driver told me of an illustrious career that his son had in Europe. This conversation was the introduction to an even bigger story about his life as a retired engineer, taxi cab owner and world traveler.

On a more recent occasion, I sat beside a teacher from New Jersey who played soccer with her 5th grade class. She spoke about the girls in her class and their love of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the opportunity for 10 of her pupils to meet Pele at the Tribeca Film Festival during the upcoming week.

Now mind you, these interactions aren't started by some sort of waving of a soccer pamphlet or flag by yours truely. These are conversations that happen just as organically as a shared comment about Oprah between two people standing in line at a grocery store.

I say all of that to say that I am a firm believer in the language of soccer to give Americans an added dimension to their conversations. Most recently, I had the opportunity to share the idea, Embrace the Universal Language of Soccer, with about 400 people at TEDxGreenville.

I encourage you to take a listen, brood it over, discuss the thoughts with others, and...give a child a ball. Who knows what conversations it will allow them to participate in?

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