April 13, 2014. Another weekend, another speaking event for CAC Chief Executive Strategist, Brian Suskiewicz. A return home of sorts, Brian spoke at the “Soccer As The Beautiful Game” conference at Hofstra University in New York. Before CAC Brian was Associate Head Coach for the Hofstra Men’s Soccer Team from 2004 to 2009, winning three CAA titles during those five years. To say Brian was happy to return is an understatement, but throw a football legend into the mix and words fall short of expressing our delight in participating in this event.
One of the big activities of the weekend, aside from gathering the all-stars of the sport for development field, was to give Pelé, THE Pelé, an honorary degree from Hofstra. His ties to the university go back to his days as a player as the NY Cosmos used to train at Hofstra in the 1970s. Pelé also spoke at the conference, noting that coming to play for the NY Cosmos “was the best thing in my life. It was the best decision to come to play in the United States.” He also noted that soccer is “the biggest family in the world.” Brian was honored to have a few moments to speak with Pelé and thank him for inspiring generations of footballers all over the world. A full video of his 5-minute speech on Friday evening can be found here.
Besides his brief meeting with the global icon, Brian spoke on two panels during this first ever event at his old stomping ground. The first focused on “Football, Pedagogy, and Integration,” and Brian capitalized on this opportunity to detail our philosophy of self-directed learning. Brian partook in this panel with other academics in the field, sharing ideas on how soccer can change the world, creating self-directed learners based on Dr. Judith Gates’ Chance to Choice educational theory.
The second panel shifted attentions to “Empowerment, Social Integration, and Soccer”, moving from the theoretical to the practical. Many familiar faces joined Brian as he spoke about our work on the field in more than twenty-five countries around the world. Friends and partners of CAC who also participated include Mary McVeigh from Soccer Without Borders – who we are working with in Uganda this month! – as well as representatives from streetfootballworld, Love Futbol, and America Scores. The interested crowd asked dozens of questions varying from implementation practices to supporting global charities.
We are proud to be part of events like this, honored to be among such stellar figures in our field of not only international development but also international football – nice to meet you Pelé! Moreover, we are proud because we are the global leaders in sport for social impact and these platforms allow us to spread awareness for what we do with the incredible local organizations we are so grateful to call our partners.