By: Nick Costelloe
Chief Adventure Officer, Universal Dialect
The seed for the idea behind Universal Dialect was planted in Lima, Peru in 2008. My under-15 team and I were wrapping up a 10-day overseas soccer trip. We had just finished our last match against a young Peruvian team in the outskirts of Lima. Having grown up on the east coast of the US, the scene was something I’d never seen before: a dirt field situated between rows of eroding buildings. Goalposts, but no nets. Our opponents were wearing ripped up, old uniforms.
We were used to playing on decent fields back in the States, so the visuals made us realize the levels of poverty that the villagers were dealing with.
After we boarded the bus to drive back to our hotel in Miraflores, ironically the wealthiest area in Lima, I found myself feeling uneasy. Were we simply going to drive away, board a plane back to the US, and forget about the poverty that they just experienced? While the bus was warming up for departure, the Peruvian team stood a few feet away from the windows, waving to thank us for coming to play at their local club center. It was clearer than ever to see that many of the players lacked proper footwear, clothing, and basic equipment to play.
After a silent moment rolled by, one of my teammates grabbed his soccer ball out of his bag. He stood up and made his way out of the bus and back onto the dirt playing field. Without any words, he offered up his soccer ball to one of the young players which was received with a glowing smile—the gratitude could hardly be contained. Inspired by the act of kindness, I quickly retrieved my own soccer ball and encouraged my other teammates to do the same. Each of us exited the bus one-by-one and handed off a ball to a player on the Peruvian team. The Peruvian kids rushed off to play with their new gifts, their energy unparalleled.
An old soccer ball, an item so many of us took for granted back in the US, brought immense joy to each of the young players in Peru. As the bus glided back through the mountains towards the hotel and eventually the airport, I couldn’t help but think about this magical moment.
Over the 10 years since my original trip to Peru, Sean, my best friend and Co-Founder, and I have had similar experiences all over the world through our travels. Wherever our trips took us, we never missed an opportunity to play pickup soccer with local kids. It didn’t matter that the kids we played with often couldn’t speak our language; the game itself allowed us all to communicate without words.
While these moments always provided a beautiful opportunity to connect with and engage locals, the one constant was the feeling of guilt afterwards when we realized that we would go back home and have everything we need and then some, whereas these kids had so little yet appreciated all that they did have.
We wanted to help. We thought about ways in which we could sustainably fund the giving of soccer balls to people in need, all over the world. After all, you can play the game without shoes, without a shirt, and without goals, but you can’t play without a ball.
That’s when we had our AHA moment. The global soccer community lacked a brand that caters specifically to all of the other adventures of life. We could fill this need in the market. We realized that creating a mission-driven business centered around giving would be the best way to achieve the goal of providing kids around the world with the only item that they need to play soccer: a soccer ball.
And so, Universal Dialect was born. We create activewear from top-class fabrics right here in the US, meant for the soccer community to wear while tackling all of the other incredible things that they pursue in life. After all, the game only lasts 90 minutes, so we have you covered for the rest of the journey.
The best part? For every two products purchased, we give a soccer ball to a less-fortunate footballer around the world.
We want you to Grab Life in all that you do, all while helping others play the game that we all love most. Check out our gear, and let us know what you think. Cheers to grabbing life, together!