TEDxGreenville – Qiana Martin – Embrace the Universal Language of Soccer
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TEDxGreenville – Qiana Martin – Embrace the Universal Language of Soccer

Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Reiko Bovee “Can I get in?” It was not only a question
that I posed to the sport of soccer. But one that I put forth to a group of West Indian and Latin American guys, in a Los Angeles park one day. I was a different gender,
different ethnicity, and I grew up 3,000 miles away. So you can imagine
the strange looks that they gave me! But, I had a ball. And that ball sealed the deal. I was a late arrival
to the sport of soccer, but after that day in the park, I became consumed with the sport. I started to play pickup games
all the time, and started reading books
about this sport, one of which was
about Brazilian soccer principles. Now, some people may read
a book like this and just implement what they learned. However, I took it a step further, and began communicating with the author. Our communication led to me receiving
the opportunity to train in his facility and then, an even bigger invitation: to join an all-female soccer club
in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So I packed up
and moved to South America. Now, when I arrived, I quickly found out that my teammates and coaches had three preconceived notions
about Americans. One: we are all rich. (Laughter) Two: all we ever eat is fast food. And three: in the United States
there are no homeless people. Now, it was going to be pretty hard
for me to convince them otherwise because I was
a beginner Portuguese speaker, and they spoke little to no English. However, we did have
a universal language, and that language was this ball: soccer. And over that course of hours
of training and playing together, through days and months, soccer served as an icebreaker
that whittled away our preconceived notions
that we had about one another. And in the end, we realized we had
more commonalities than differences. When I returned back to the South East, my perspective on the sport of soccer,
had broaden tremendously. However, I noticed here
in the United States, our view is very narrow
compared to the rest of the world. When I was in Brazil, we played any and everywhere
with the ball. On cement, on grass, on sand. All over the globe, soccer is considered
the sport of the common man. Because just as in Brazil,
you can play anywhere. It’s inexpensive to play
and is accessible to everyone. However, it seems like here, in the US,
the sport has been relegated to grassy fields and neighborhoods
of affluent or international background. Exposure and economics have prevented Americans
in all neighborhoods from mastering the language of soccer in the way that others have,
around the globe. And the interesting thing is
that soccer can serve as a bridge: not just between a young girl
and her foreign teammates, but between local residents
of diverse communities, and business people
of different international cultures. And that is why I am so adamant
and passionate about spreading the universal language of soccer here in the South East,
and throughout this nation. By embracing soccer,
we can engage in the global community and participate in a way
that we haven’t done up until this point. So, what can we do to develop fluency
in the sport of soccer? I have two approaches
that I am participating in, and I would like to ask you to join me. First: we need to expose
more young people to the language. And how can you do that? It’s very easy. All we need to do
is provide them with a ball. Not an expensive proposition. I’ve witnessed firsthand how our classroom
of inner-city students became so excited when I taught them
in less than two minutes, how to balance this ball
on the back of their neck. Secondly: for those of us
that coach soccer, play soccer or are fans of the sport, I would like you to consider engaging
in a little soccer tourism. The next time you decide to travel abroad,
set aside a day or two. Experience the culture in a whole new way. And how can you do that? Train with the local soccer coach,
and then, in the afternoon, participate in a friendly match
with the local club. Imagine the experience that you’ll have! And that you will be able
to share once you return here. Just as important,
picture the influence and impact that you will have on the coaches,
teammates and local residents, that you’ll encounter
during that experience. You know, we are fortunate here,
that we live in a country, where our native tongue, English, has become a de-facto universal language
spoken by people all over the world. Athletically speaking,
soccer is the global language, and it is one that can yield us
new friendships, and allow us to engage
in global dialogues in a whole new way. Embrace the universal language of soccer. That is my idea worth sharing. Thank you. (Applause)


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