To use the idea of sport to resolve conflicts, teach tolerance and equality, and help kids recover from trauma. — Tim Jahnigen
Every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we run into partnerships that speak to us and some of our deepest passions.
This morning I ran into a Mashable article about a seemingly indestructible soccer ball that was making its way to remote areas of the world where it is most needed. Areas where the harsh conditions of terrain or geopolitics have a way of flattening hope as often as they flatten balls.
The idea of creating a durable soccer ball came to Tim Jahnigen after watching, and being moved by, a news clip about children refugees in Darfur. The children, in order to enjoy the simple pleasure of playing soccer, would improvise with trash and twine and innovate a make-shift soccer ball.
Bourne out of the simple passion of sport, the clip motivated Jahnigen to pursue a solution to the problem through creating a new type of ball that wouldn’t flatten.
Although, Jahnigen personally lacked the resources to bring his idea to life, his vocation as a music producer provided him access to someone who would help the concept become reality: Sting.
Together they brought vision to life and created a ball made “of injection-molded, closed-cell foam, similar to the material used to make Crocs shoes.” The ball is “virtually indestructible, can’t be deflated, doesn’t get waterlogged and is made to survive.”
Check out the story in their own words:
In addition to the many organizations that the project has already collaborated with, the cause found a major brand willing to partner with One World: Chevrolet. The major car company has committed itself to donating 1.5 million One World Futbol Project balls over the span of three years.
Naturally, a brand partaking in such a cause does have inherent interests that extend beyond “just doing good.” Additionally, the One World Futbol project is classified as a B Corp, and not strictly a non-profit. This means that although there is a genuine cause at the heart of this operation, there is a product being sold (as well as costs associated with that product).
Still, this should not detract from the value that a simple soccer ball brings to kids that are lucky enough to play because of it, nor from the efforts associated with this campaign via Chevrolet FC. In fact, I commend them highly for choosing this specific cause because it speaks to me personally.
As a kid, I grew up in a Latin American country where we used to save up what little money we had as kids (pennies and quarters really), in order to purchase an extremely cheap plastic ball full of air that would get punctured and go flat almost immediately. Our solution to this problem was to cut the ball in half, fill it with dirt, and tape it back up – this extended the life of the ball and enriched our childhood days.
I didn’t live in a conflict area but there was enough poverty among us to relate to the heart-breaking joy I see in some of the photos or videos hosted on the One World Futbol Project website.
For those of you fortunate enough to be able to donate to a cause, the One World Futbol Project donates one soccer ball for every soccer ball purchased through their website; or you can just donate a ball if you don’t need one. Check this page for details.
A simple soccer ball brings communal good and individual joy that stays with us through the years. Trust me, I’ll never forget how happy we were kicking around a ball made of dirt and plastic.