More Than Soccer

Marie Le Page: “Our Aim is to inspire young people through sporting activities and teach them the skills and confidence that will help them change their life”

Soccerplus talked to Marie Le Page, Director of Play for Change, a foundation that works hard from London to improve the lives of children around the world, through sporting actions. And they already have one foot in Miami.

This is their story…

1. What is Play for Change?
Play for Change is dedicated to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children through the power of sport. We want to see a world where all children are equipped with the life skills that they need for their future and we believe that sport can play a significant role in a child’s social, cognitive, emotional and physical development. At Play for Change we combine sporting, life skills and coaching programs so children can play, learn and develop.

2. What do you wish other people knew about (the Non-profit)?
Play is not just for fun. It is absolutely crucial for a child’s development. There is an abundance of research on the positive effects of play on early childhood development (“ECD” – birth to 8 years old). Strong links have been demonstrated between creative play and language, and physical, cognitive and social development. Play is a precursor to a child’s ability to get involved in formal team sports and education.

3. Who are some of your most notable partners?
We work with a number of partners the world over to fund and to implement projects. In addition to Miami FC we work with a number of influential partners and donors such as EHF (European Handball Federation) and Jupiler Pro League in Europe and a number of very talented local partners such as GAN (Global Action Nepal) and Reach and Teach who help us structure and deliver our programmes.

4. Tell us about the soccer programs you are working on developing in the U.S. with the Miami Football Club.
We are currently working on developing the “Kick It” program. A soccer initiative that is committed to help young people in underserved communities, by supporting community soccer-based youth development programs in the area. The programs will be supporting children development an active and healthy lifestyle while development their personal growth through trained coaches/mentors. We are partnering with local communities to create cost-effective, long-term initiatives that meet each community’s youth-development needs and provide safe environments where kids thrive.

Marie Le Page, Director of Play for Change, said “We are thrilled to be partnering with Miami FC who will be actively taking part in helping to enrich more young people’s lives with new experiences. Enabling opportunities for vulnerable young people to access sport is invaluable for developing confidence, skills and knowledge”.

“We rebuild playgrounds so children can play in safe and stimulating environments away from harm; we provide workshops so children learn the life skills they need for happy and healthy futures”

“Our sports and media network is full of inspirational people and the programme provides fantastic exposure to the world of sport, community development and female empowerment”

“Estamos encantados al asociarnos con el Miami Football Club quien activamente tomara parte en ayudar a enriquecer la vida de más personas jóvenes a través de nuevas experiencias”

Marie Le Page, Director de Play for Change

Where: Miami, Belgium, UK, Italy, Bali and Nepal and looking
at expanding our reach in Europe and Asia.
How many: PFC has reached over 4,000 children.

Marie Le Page
Career: Commercial strategy and business management – both in the corporate world and in the non-profit sector. As Director, she is responsible for the quality and growth of Play for Change and for designing programmes which deliver measurable social impacts for children and young people.

Experience: PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Entreprises, The World Bank/IFC and WWF Italy.

Sports: water sports addict. When not on the water, Marie is a cycling enthusiast and has recently cycled up Mont Ventoux.

Rodolfo Rodriguez: A Life Behind The Ball

From coaching Maradona in Rosario, Argentina, till guiding a 5-year-old boy, little Luca, in Miami, Rodolfo, the visible face of the Boca Juniors Soccer Academy in North Miami Beach, tells us what is behind this ambitious sporting project.

How did the Boca Club start in Miami?
We started playing on the beach with 15 kids, while completing the soccer fields. The fundamental vision is to grow an Academy. Today we have more than 200, among boys and girls. We are training teams that are competing in categories from U6 to U17.

What is the vision for the immediate future?
First, begin to compete. But we have to make a base of players who can compete. This year we are in nearby tournaments, we wanted to make a formative task. Next year, we are in three categories recreational, elite level, and a third one step before Elite. According to the amount, quality will come.
We are also opening a headquarter in Broward, because these fields are already too small for us. There are many kids who come from Kendall, Weston and we want to be closer.

How is the parental response and involvement?
Very good! It is one of the fundamental forces of the business: We have the company, parents, kids and coaches. Here, parents have a lot of commitment.

What are the nationalities of the Kids in Boca?
We have a high percentage of Latino kids. The idea of the city and SGD is to balance with more American boys and give them an opportunity. Generally, those kids don’t understand soccer, but when teaching, they absorb very quickly.

How do you do during summer time?
We don’t want the boys to stop for a long time. We want them to get used to train during the week and compete on weekends like in other countries. Now we enter a new league, “Miami Club Champions League,” which begins with 9 teams and from the month of July starts a competition format for 10 months with more teams. That is to say, in Boca we will compete continuously.

Age: 71
Born: Buenos Aires
Jobs: Boca, San Lorenzo, News All Boys, Vélez Sarfield,
Studies: Physical trainer
Superior Sports University, Cologne, Germany
Friends: Ruggeri, Maradona, Ramón Díaz, Gustavo Quintero, Pochettino, Tata Martino, Gareca…

12 synthetic-grass soccer fields
200 players
2 Boca academies in USA (Miami and New Jersey)
10 years of agreement between Boca y North Miami Beach
10 countries with Boca Juniors presence
60 Boca soccer academies exist around the world

“Miami is the perfect place for this kind of projects”

“Soccer is growing a lot in the US, and not just for Latin Americans. In Argentina we’ve been playing soccer for the last hundred years, so it’s a perfect match.”

Daniel Rotsztain
Presidente de SDG.
Soccer Development Group
(In statements to the Miami New Times Weekly)

FYSA State Cup 2016: Four Winners In Every Division

The moment of truth is approaching and the FYSA State Cup 2016 advances to the semifinals: Each division, both boy and girls, has already defined with exciting games the teams that will continue to the finals.

The teams OCYS 02/03B PRO ACADEMY, FLORIDA RUSH 02 RUSH BOYS, KENDALL SC 02 WHITE y FLORIDA ELITE 02/03 ELITE move forward easily. The Orlando -OCYS- team’s goals suggest a very tight match against the RUSH team, very strong at the offensive.

In a very competitive division, 18-year-old boys will face in a division with no clear prediction. FLORIDA RUSH 97 RUSH BOYS, B3CCS CLAY COUNTY SC 97 RANGERS BLAC, CORAL GABLES TOROS TOROS 97/98 y C1FCT RANGERS will be face to face next May 21.

In this division, the SUNRISE STING 00/01 girls will face the Fort Meyers C5NFM NORTH FORT MYERS SC FLORIDA LADY KNIGHTS 00/01 RED team, while the SPACE COAST UNITED 00/01 GIRLS TRAVEL RED team is ready to the grand finale.

SUNRISE STING 98/99, FORT LAUDERDALE FC 98/99 GIRLS, C1TBU TAMPA BAY UNITED PREMIER GIRLS 98 y FKK 98/99 FLORIDA KRUSH BLACK arrive to the semifinals after beating their opponents. 19 goals among the four teams talk about the great definition skills of these girls.

Promises: Sebastian Paz The future is here

Sebastian Paz is a young dreamer, reserved, hardworking who fights for what he wants. Soccer is his passion, and he is achieving great successes thanks to his dedication. Sebastian will be in the coming days at the camp of the U-14 U.S. National Team. Read more about him:

At what age did you start playing soccer and why?
At 5 years old. My cousins were very athletic and made fun of me because I was chubby. My mom was the one who signed me up.
I wasn’t very good at soccer; I did it to get some exercise.

Why did the teams choose you?
I was never like the superstar of the team, but always gave everything, I never gave up. The teams chose me because of my desire to improve, to win.

How do you feel about being called to a camp with the U.S. National Team U-14?
My coach, Matias called me to give me the news. The Camp will take place next 27 May. And I hope they call me up to play with the team. It’s such a great emotion!

What soccer position do you play?
Forward, I wear the number 9.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a professional soccer player, playing in MLS first and then in Europe. Besides, I want to study something related to medicine, I’d like to be an anesthesiologist.

How do you prepare to leave everything on the field?
Eating well, sleeping enough. Neither I go out much nor do I stay up late.

What do you think is the key for your success?
Never give up and discipline.

1. Name: Sebastian Paz
2. Age: 14 years old
3. School: Lamar Louise Curry Middle school
4. Favorite team: Real Madrid
5. Favorite player: Luis Suarez
6. Favorite movie: The Fast and The Furious
7. Book: The Giver
8. A word that defines you: Hardworking
12. Favorite class: Math
13. Favorite food: Sushi
15. Pet: A Dog named Jack
16. Family: Monica (mother) my father Guillermo Paz,
and my brother Oscar Paz.

“Sebastian is a player with a lot of future. He wears number 9 and is the scorer of Kendall Academy 01. Seba has a good physic and moves very well to lose marks and score goals. He’s a good leader and a very good teammate”

Matias Asorey
USSDA Technical Director
Kendall Director of Coaches

“Sebastian is very disciplined, we never push him to achieve this soccer level; seeing his triumphs so quickly, at 14 years old, we are very happy. Sebastian has had a very fast growth stage in the recent years. ”

Mónica Paz

Gabriel Paniagua: “Dreaming is the first step to success”

Gabriel Paniagua began his way to soccer at four years old with the support of his father, although he wasn’t a big soccer fan, he encouraged him to work to achieve his dreams in the sport.
At 18, Gabriel began to fulfill his dreams, and he is already part of the U-18 National Team. And he has several offers from different Universities. This young midfielder is a very complete player: he defends very well and he also scores goals, and because of playing in this position is a great admirer of Andres Iniesta, the midfielder of Barcelona.

How do you feel about being part of the U.S. National Team?
It is an unforgettable experience, when you’re in front of millions of people representing your country is something so great that it cannot be expressed in words.

Since when have you been part of the U.S. National Team?
The first time they called me was in the summer of 2015. I have already played several times with them, in California, Sweden and Florida.

How did you get scouted in soccer?
They saw me in the “Showcase of the Academy’s Playoff”, of my team Kendall Soccer Coalition. The U-18 coach observed me and called me to be part of the team.

What others dreams do you have with soccer?
I want to be a professional player and play in Europe.
But I am also ready to go wherever soccer takes me. And continue on the U.S. National Team.

What would you say to others boys, who also want to fulfill their dreams?
The first thing is to dream, but you also have to work hard, go to training several days a week. You too have to train by yourself when there’s no training with your team.

How do you manage time between studying and training?
I believe there’s a balance between soccer and studying. I’m devoted to soccer but I’m also a good student. I like to study. My priority on weekends is soccer, if there are games, I concentrate on that. And leave social life for later.

How do you prepare physically?
I go to the gym 2 or 3 times. On Monday after the matches, we have a break and I fill my bathtub with ice cubes: it helps me recover.

What are your eating habits?
I personally care a lot for my feeding. In soccer
You can’t be eating ice cream or fried food every day. One day before the game I drink 5 bottles of water and after matches I drink chocolate milk.

1. Name: Gabriel Paniagua
2. Age: 17 years old
3. Where do you study?: Ransom Everglades School
4. Favorite international team: Barcelona
5. Favorite international player: Andrés Iniesta
6. Favorite movie: Focus
7. Book: Great Gatsby
8. Singer: Drake
9. Song: Headlines
10. Awards earned:
Sports: Called to play with the U-18 U.S. Team.
Academic: Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, French Honor Society.
11. One word that defines your personality: Responsible
12. Something you hate: negative people
13. Favorite food: French fries with beaf
14. Your best friends: My soccer team
15. Pet: A dog….named Mikey
17. Family: Alfonso (Dad), Cynthia (Mom), Monica (Sister), y Andrea (Sister)
18. Besides soccer you like: Playing tennis, school, and enjoying time with friends and family.
19. Favorite place: Casa de Campo, La Romana. (Dominican Republic)

“My Kendall teammates are very proud of my triumphs. They support me a lot!”

“Gabriel is a complete midfielder, defends and reads the game very well and he also scores goals. He is organized in his way of playing and very serious about training. He’s an excellent student who comes from a spectacular family”

Matias Asorey
Academy Director Kendall SC

Interview: Steven Ziegler, Between Star Wars And Soccer

Since 1998 is President of Weston FC soccer club, one of the most important in Florida. Steven divides his life between his wife Cristina, his twin sons Matthew and Allie, Charlie (a Goldendoodle), soccer, Star Wars and his responsibility as SVP in AvMed Health Plan. And he still has time to talk to SoccerPlus …

When do you fall in love with Soccer?
When I grew up in the 60’s in America soccer was not really known to Americans. I started playing in middle school because I was too small for American football and fell in love with the game. I have been playing and coaching ever since and started coaching competitive youth soccer starting at 18 years of age and coached for the next 40 years.

What is your vision for Weston FC in the next years?
My vision for Weston FC is to continue placing both boys and girls on the youth national teams. We also envision owning and operating our own soccer complex and having a residential program for youth players from around the world.

And the most important aspects to work with boys and girls?
For youth players, you have to balance building their self-esteem and giving them confidence while also holding them accountable for not playing in a committed way 100 percent of the time.

Why, on girls side, soccer as sport is growing?
Girls are falling in love with soccer in large part due to the success of the Women’s National Team. Also, the growth and success of the ECNL league has shown girls there is a top league to play in that will lead to National Team opportunities and college scholarship.

What do you offer to the families that bring their kids to play soccer with Weston FC?
Weston FC offers the families the top technical staff in the country and provides a fun safe environment for the kids to develop their game. We provide the same top level of service to the players regardless of what level they are playing.

Do you have, as Club, professional relationships with Universities and Colleges that facilitate the access to the players?
We have a robust college placement program for both girls and boys and currently have 50 players playing on college scholarships.

What is the most important value that you would like to teach to each kid that plays for Weston?
Respect for the game, the coaches, opponents, referees, and especially the parents, who sacrifice so much to give the kids a great experience.

Steven Ziegler
Age: 60
Food: all
Movies: Star Wars
Define your character: Good guy
Family: Wife, Cristina, and 12-year-old twins, Matthew and Allie
Pets: Charlie, the Goldendoodle.

“The future of US Soccer is very bright. Over the last 10 years the level of play at the youth level has gone up dramatically”

Knowing The Different Positions: The Ideal “10”

The creative player of the team has different abilities and an extra responsibility on his team. And although his role has changed, the “10” is as relevant as before. Jaime Duarte speaks, with the experience of having played in two World Cups-1978 and 1982- representing Peru.

Many say that the popular number 10, that different player who carries the handle to make the team win, no longer exists. However, players who have that special talent will always be highlighted, whether they play a little further back and have defensive duties, or play more glued to the wing to run through the soccer field. The “hook” or number “10” is a player in a position to second-line forward; he has to manage the entire front attack in his position.


Today we talk that the height of a world class soccer player should be 5-foot-8 and up. But still, it can be short, but maybe not so skinny. The use of both feet effectively is ideal. “Specialize with one leg first, and later with the other one,” comments to Soccerplus Jaime Duarte, who was a player with the National Team of Peru in the World Cups in 1978 and 1982. We must recognize that to talk about a “10” is good to compare with those before now, and the types of hook that today make a difference in world soccer.

“We have monsters like Messi and Ronaldo, who are creative and carry the team on their shoulders, but they are not only to attack. When they lose the ball, they will look for it too, of course in the sector in which they are “, continues saying the World Cup player.

“But it is not like before that the “10 “were marked. The “Pibe” Valderrama was a quick mind and feet player, but perhaps not a fast running player. Messi is fast with the ball, he is explosive while Cristiano Ronaldo is faster without the ball, I think he is more a striker”, finishes Duarte.

According to the FIFA ranking, prepared in 2015, the best “10” of all times was Pele, from Brazil, followed by Maradona, from Argentina. In the list they are also Totti from Italy, Riquelme from Argentina, Pibe Valderrama from Colombia, Lothar Matthaus from Germany, Rivelinho, Zico y Tostao from Brazil.
Currently, there is no doubt the best “10” is Lio Messi. Also, stand out James Rodríguez from Real Madrid, y Zlatan Ibrahimovic from PSG of Paris.

Boca Soccer School: A Young Club With The Support Of A Classic

With a few months of being founded, Boca is already in the race to become a benchmark. At the flawless facilities in North Miami Beach, Soccer Plus certifies the meticulous work of its people: coaches, parents, business and players.

Rodolfo Rodriguez, the coach, calls them fondly by name but firmly: To the field, let’s train! And all the kids -among 8 and 12 years old- run to take their place in training. If it wasn’t for their young age, one could say that it is a “professional” team training: well-uniformed, disciplined, cheerful, each one with a ball glued to his feet. And the coaches, each with his group, are giving explanations, calmly, without stress. After all, it’s an afternoon game for everyone, at the club that wears the colors gold and blue of the legendary Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires, Argentina, here in Miami.


“I think this club is very professional,
kids learn discipline and something very important,

Graciela Campagna, Mother.

“Here, they learn a lot about
respect, collaboration.
As parents, we are
super happy.”

Mariana Nolasco: Mother

“Here, discipline is instilled a lot.
My son loves it. I come with him every afternoon.
I find the Club spectacular.”

Daniela Misrahi: Mother
Michael Campagna
Team: U-12
Position: Midfielder
Age: 11 years
Favorite Player: Lionel Messi

David Campagna
Team: U-8
Position: Striker
Age: 8 years
Favorite Player: Diego Maradona

Tomás Nolasco
Team: U-8
Position: Right Midfielder
Age: 8 years
Favorite Player: Lionel Messi

Nicolás De La Torre
Team: U-12
Position: Left Midfielder
Age: 12 years
Favorite Player: Lionel Messi

Luca Misrahi
Team: U-6
Position: Forward
Age: 5 years
Favorite Player: Lionel Messi