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The Language of Soccer: Interview with DSAL Soccer Director Glenn Van Straatum

Glenn Van Straatum - Soccer Coach

DSAL interviewed DSAL Soccer Director Glenn Van Straatum to learn about his background, his role at DSAL, and his vision for DSAL’s soccer programs. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

DSAL: Tell us about your background.

I have been involved with Soccer all my life at different levels during the different stages of my life. I played in Suriname at the highest level in Concacaf Champions League soccer and made it to the national team at a very young age. Then I decided in 1978 to go to the University of San Francisco (USF), because coach Steve Negoesco, one of college soccer's greatest coaches, recruited me. USF had a successful dynasty in the early 70s and 80s. I loved the opportunity to both study and play soccer. I thought it was an amazing experience on the field and in the class-room.

I studied computer science at USF and went on to have a successful career in technology, but I always stayed involved in youth soccer, including helping Bay Area Boys and Girls Clubs. While I was running companies, I was always involved with soccer programming that helps those who are passionate about the game, but without the means to participate fully.

Eventually, I decided to get back to doing what I really loved – soccer. Hence my third and current stint, as I call it, making soccer my priority. That's what I've done for the last 20 years.

DSAL: How did you get connected with DSAL?

I heard about DSAL through (DSAL’s former Soccer Director) Nick Lusson. I worked with Nick when I was on NorCal Premier’s Board of Directors.

Nick knew about my passion and skill set in running youth clubs, and he inspired me to visit DSAL and to consider helping the organization. DSAL kids have a genuine love for soccer, and it immediately felt like home to me. I’m very happy I joined them, because what they offer is what I love about youth soccer. DSAL is making a difference in kids’ lives with something they love. They come here with a passion for the game.

DSAL: What are your objectives as DSAL’s Soccer Director?

I'm involved with the recreational as well as the competitive (Sheriff’s FC) program. My pledge is that every kid who comes through our program will get 150% of me.

We influence youth on the soccer side and also on the human side. That is the biggest piece. The kids come with a smile, and we try, as coaches, to impact them not only for the love of the game, but also the love of being around their teammates, being appreciative of the opportunity to play the sport, and of learning good behaviors while getting better as players.

I come from a place that doesn't have a lot of money, and what I've learned is that any kid anywhere in the world can build the confidence and values that will help them go through life with grit and resilience, and they’ll develop a vision for themselves and a strong belief in what they can achieve for themselves. The comradery and cooperation of our younger kids learning from the older ones in the club is infectious.

DSAL: You recently joined the celebration for the new Sunset Futsal Park at the Hayward Adult School. What does that new facility mean for DSAL and the community?

The new Futsal facility is a gamechanger. It's a game changer in the collaborative way community assets are built that is not only beautiful, and—most importantly—it’s one that the youth feel is like their home. And because it's Futsal, we can train on technical abilities, but we can also train the youth on having fun. That is big for our community—to have some freedom of expression because they know that it's a home.

The programming we are putting in place will give all ages and all skill levels the chance to participate. So much appreciation and credit goes to our DSAL leadership and HARD who were able to put such a unique proposition together that can change the lives of so many kids.

DSAL: How does DSAL Soccer support DSAL’s mission of improving public safety?

The kids have the potential of growing up playing the sport but also to stay away from other, harmful things. For example, on Fridays, from 4-8:00 p.m., we will play music and invite teenagers and older youth to play pick-up soccer while we are creating a welcoming atmosphere especially for them.

DSAL: Is there anything else you would like to say about DSAL and your hopes for the youth who participate in DSAL’s sports and recreational activities?

I really appreciate the whole picture of DSAL, because DSAL does food distribution, food recovery, food as medicine, Dig Deep Farms, public arts…and to have soccer on top of that, well, I'm in heaven. I want to create a program whereby the kids become leaders and then become mentors of younger age groups and as they grow up the ladder that they eventually can come back as coaches. That's the dream. My vision is to be able to make a lasting impact.

Soccer is a different language and playing with each other—or against each other—builds comradery. We are creating programming where we will enable the entire community to engage with one another and be in sync on the value that sports brings to them. We want people to know each other as people first.

Youth on the new Sunset Futsal Courts

The ribbon is cut for $2.5M Free-to-Play Sunset Futsal Courts at Hayward Adult School

Kids and their parents flocked to the Hayward Adult School on February 24th for the ribbon-cutting celebration for the new, state-of-the-art Sunset Futsal Courts, located at 300 Laurel Avenue in Hayward.

The new futsal facility includes four futsal courts for youth play, perimeter netting and fencing, restrooms, lighting, a covered entry kiosk, seating and viewing areas, and accessible parking.

The Sunset Futsal Courts are the result of a multi-year, community-driven process to transform unused space into free sports and recreation facilities to ease the shortage of parks and safe spaces for kids to exercise, build social skills, and play in the area.

Learn more about DSAL’s recreational and competitive soccer programs.

DSAL Athletes of the Month: Sandra Rivera and her son, Max Stoddard

DSAL Athletes of the Month: Sandra Rivera and her son, Max Stoddard

Community member Sandra Rivera wrote to tell us what a big impact DSAL’s free Muévete classes have had on her nine-year-old son, Max. Sadly, Max experienced bullying from classmates at school, causing him to become timid and quiet. But then he decided to launch a YouTube channel with videos of himself doing the things he loves to do, including sharing dancing videos with steps and moves he learns in Muévete.

“Thanks to Muevete, my son Max learned to love dancing, because it was the best form to express himself and continue to be happy,” said Sandra. “This program has also given us the opportunity to connect with other programs such as wrestling and summer camp. Now Max has become more confident in himself and as a result he has been able to learn that bullying should not control your actions.”

“Max and I are both volunteering in food banks by organizing, packaging, and delivering food supplies,” she said. “He is now more confident and has become more social with children his own age. Thank you coach Angie for giving me resources from DSAL. Because of this my son has become a better citizen for the community.”

One Nation Dream Makers and Hillary Bass

Meet One Nation Dream Makers, a dedicated DSAL Food Recovery partner

One Nation Dream Makers are one of our first Food Recovery partners who have donated thousands of pounds of recovered food weekly since early 2020. One Nation Dream Makers is currently working closely with Dig Deep Farms Food Hub’s Food Recovery team to create climate-efficient routes for Food Recovery pickups and drop-offs.

Wasted food is the largest component of what gets sent to landfills in Alameda County. Large institutions, including schools and hospitals, throw away tons of healthy, uneaten food every day. Most of this wasted food ends up in landfills where it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. At the same time, nearly 12% of Alameda County residents live in households that are food insecure.

Given the impact that wasted food has on our environment and communities, food waste prevention and recovery (donation) is critical to keep food out of landfills. DSAL partners with community organizations, like One Nation Dream Makers (ONDM), to make sure edible, surplus food goes to people who need it.

ONDM is on a mission to eliminate hunger in Alameda County by delivering food to at-risk neighborhoods and the doorsteps of folks who are suffering from food insecurity. We’ve worked with them since 2020, and they have donated thousands of pounds of food weekly and on request, if needed. For example, during the holidays, ONDM was a huge source of turkeys and other proteins for our food recipients.

One Nation Dream Makers was created by Ronnie Forbes, a military veteran who experienced homelessness, incarceration, and hunger. Ronnie had “a moment of clarity” while he was incarcerated to start a new journey when he got out to mitigate food insecurity and help those most in need.

Ronnie is supported by a dedicated team that includes our Food Recover heroes, Sandee Munroe and Ryan C Smith, who have been working with him from the start.

DSAL is proud to support One Nation Dream Makers in their mission to feed as many people as they can.


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