I play soccer, and over the years I’ve gotten to play with people from all over the world. I learned the game playing alongside guys from Jamaica, Haiti and Barbados. Now I share the field with players from Morocco, Mexico, Korea, Central America and Europe. They all put me to shame, but no one cares. We’re having fun.
While the sport is growing in America, it still doesn’t enjoy the level of participation and fervor here as it does in the rest of the world. What the rest of the world calls football is a truly international sport that anyone can play whether they have shin guards, matching jerseys or even shoes.
The one thing they can’t play without is a ball. Open space and willing players are easy to come by in Uganda, but finding a suitable ball is another story. I’ve heard of balls made from leaves or plastic bags bound with twine or balls so beaten up it’s difficult to make out that it was once a nice Adidas ball.
It seems like a silly thing when I’m going to Uganda to help provide clean water to be worried about a game, but I know how this little game builds community and strengthens relationships. For a couple hours on the pitch, a kid gets to be a kid and learn to play with others, anticipate their movement and scoring the winning goal in the World Cup. An adult gets to remember what it’s like to run and laugh without a concern for work or anything else but putting the ball in the back of the net.
So I’m taking a bunch of soccer balls and hand pumps that we can leave in the villages we’ll be visiting. I plan to take at least twenty size 5 balls and pumps. You can help.
If you have a new or used ball in good condition to donate, contact me and I’ll tell you how to get it to me.
UPDATE: Picked up a bunch of balls at Dicks Sporting Goods in Ithaca. A fella named Shane was a huge help and gave me a discount. If you shop at Dicks and you see him, tell him thank you.
You can still help by sponsoring soccer balls. You can make a secure donation via PayPal or give the money to me. Thank you for your support.
If you play the game, you know what it means. I hope you’ll help me give more kids the chance to play and enjoy the one game that might just bring about world peace.
UPDATE: I was able to distribute 11 soccer balls and ball pumps. They went to several schools, an orphanage, and a couple programs for street kids. You should have seen eyes light up when I pulled out a brand new football. Thank you for your help in making this possible.