A Soccer Ball for Good

July 26th, 2010 by Andrea Bennett

A new, extra tough ball benefits needy kids around the world.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

It’s a good day when you can say you’re helping the world by playing a game of soccer.

A new business, the One World Futbol Project, has just released a soccer ball made of closed cell foam—similar to the material in Croc sandals—that the company says will last generations. It won’t deflate, even if you puncture it with a knife, and it’s been tested in many environments…including a lion’s den. The best news is that for every new ball the company sells on its website, it gives a second ball to an NGO, including refugee camps, UN hot spots and inner cities. And though the space-age technology used to make it means that your kid could someday be giving it to his kid, the cost of the ball (including the one that gets sent off to needy kids) is roughly in line with other top-tier versions: about $40.

The ball’s inventor, Tim Jahnigen, was inspired by a video of Darfur refugees playing soccer with balls made of trash, and received start-up money from Sting to produce it. In a Bloomberg interview, Jahnigen said that the images on CNN “were heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time...I saw children desperate to play, living in a world where nothing makes sense and they've been traumatized by irrational violence. In their innocence, they were willing to play with anything." But because of the harsh environment, where razor wire, broken glass and unpaved ground were par for the course, real soccer balls were almost instant casualties.

If you’re upgrading, don’t let that old gear go to waste. Sports Gift is a nonprofit organization that redistributes soccer balls, basketballs, volleyballs, baseballs, running shoes, and other equipment to more than 40,000 underprivileged children each year. And World Vision’s “Get a Kick out of Sharing” program seeks a quarter million new and used soccer balls to donate to needy children worldwide each year.