Fighting Poverty
The United Nations Development Programme has recently collaborated with the top Turkish soccer club, Galatasaray Sports Club, to help promote the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s leading poverty eradication initiative.

After winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000, the Turkish soccer club has kept worldwide support for its athletic ventures. With stars like Wesley Sneijder representing the team, fans of international competitions have taken their enthusiasm to the club scene. Galatasaray is able to add on an impressive domestic following with over 20 local league cup wins, and in addition, has established bases in Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul.

Four of the iconic Galatasaray players, “captain Selçuk İnan of Turkey, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay, Aurélien Chedjou of Cameroon, and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder,” starred in a video promoting the new partnership between the football club and the UNDP. In the video, the players stress the idea of “leave no one behind” in a world where many are forgotten in poverty.

Outside of the film room, the club continues to make its mark. Along with the UNDP, “Galatasaray will raise funds for a diversity of programmes to tackle poverty, inequalities and exclusion across the world,” according to a UNDP article.  Even so, this isn’t the first Turkish soccer club that has set humanitarian goals. In 2014 and 2015, the organization assisted with the relief of flooded communities and victims of mining disasters.

Soccer unites people despite language, geographic and political barriers. The World Cup is the single most watched sporting event in the world, with over 700 million viewers watching the 2010 final. Millions of children, and even adults, admire the stars that play on their favorite teams. It’s only natural that these spotlighted individuals should take the lead in the fight against global poverty.

France’s Zinedine Zidane and Brazil’s Ronaldo are two iconic examples of soccer stars joining the fight against poverty. Last year the duo, along with many other stars such as van de Sar and Seedorf, put together the 12th annual Match Against Poverty, in conjunction with the UNDP and EUFA, the European soccer authority. The money from the tickets which cost “from €8 to €12” went to “aid specific projects in different countries dealing with difficult challenges.”

With power and wealth on the line, soccer’s role models quickly become the hopes and dreams of children all around the world. Youth most affected by poverty in countries with glorified soccer stars use the potential for glory and riches as motivation to conquer their own situations. Sometimes, the stories of players they watch are not unlike their own.

In Brazil, Adriano and Ronaldo are just two of those kids that have climbed out of poverty with their skills on the ball. A talent scout for Flamengo, a local professional club, says, “For Brazilian kids growing up in some of the world’s roughest neighborhoods, soccer is a ray of hope amid violence and poverty.” Around 800 Brazilian kids are able to escape the country and poverty with professional soccer careers, which is not many when the population size is considered.

Professional soccer careers are not the logical solution to poverty, but the sport is promoting poverty’s eradication in ways like Galatasaray’s public service announcement, which is in association with the Sustainable Development Goals. Soccer’s far-reaching scope and enthusiastic following can increase awareness and support for the goals of ending poverty.

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr

soccket
In the remote village community of Abuja, access to reliable, environmentally friendly and affordable electricity is difficult to come by.

The village’s primary source of electricity is produced from gas-operated generators that kick out hazardous emissions. But an innovative company, Uncharted Play, intends to change this with the SOCCKET.

The SOCCKET is an energy-harnessing soccer ball that generates electricity through harnessing the kinetic energy created when it is kicked and played with.

With the look, feel and durability of a traditional soccer ball, the SOCCKET can produce more than three hours of light with as little as 30 minutes of play.

As an off-the-grid, internally powered generator, the airless ball is designed to be able to be charged and used anywhere by any age group. Because of this feature, the ball is a great tool for school children whose educations are often hindered by a lack of reliable light sources.

James Ajah Eiche, the proprietor of Ajah Villa Community Academy in Abuja, is a huge fan of the SOCCKET. “The most striking thing in this environment that we need is light. When there is no light, how do you read?” Eiche said. “Light is life.”

In a community where soccer is a favorite pastime of school children and adults alike, the SOCCKET has proven to be a smart platform for sustainable and renewable energy.

“This is the most modern type of production of electricity,” said Eiche. “It is not dangerous. It is portable. It is not dirty.” Since being developed four years ago, the SOCCKET has provided clean power to more than 35,000 families in Nigeria alone.

However, Nigeria is not the only beneficiary of the product. Uncharted Play hopes to bring the SOCCKET to developing nations throughout the world, bringing sustainable power to the nearly 1.2 billion people who don’t have access to reliable or affordable energy sources globally.

“Just a little bit of power can make such a huge difference,” said Jessica Matthews, co-inventor of SOCCKET.

The company is so passionate about making the SOCCKET more readily available to children in developing nations that with every purchase of Uncharted Play’s energy-harnessing products, one is donated to a child in need.

“In a world where there are very few win-wins, this one is a win-win and it’s a good one.”

Claire Colby

Sources: Play, USAToday
Photo: Uncharted Play


Zambia has sent 166 athletes to the Olympic games since 1960. Of those two have earned medals—a silver in Atlanta for the 400-meter hurdles and a bronze in Los Angeles for boxing. Zambia, along with many other African countries, has never sent a rower to any Olympic games.

Zambian rower Antonia Van Deventer is hoping to change that in Rio 2016.

In July of 2011, Van Deventer and several international level scullers (rowers who use two oars instead of one) embarked on a journey to row 1,000 kilometers down the Zambezi River. The expedition, which took about 20 days, was wrought with obstacles from crocodiles to white water rapids.

“The aim is to promote grassroots sport—in particular, rowing,” said Van Deventer on the eve of the expedition.

Once the expedition closed, the best Van Deventer hoped for was that the boats used for the journey would be left behind for the benefit of the communities among the Zambezi.

In 2015, she can expect to get something better, as FISA (the international governing body for rowing competitions) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have collaborated to build a state of the art rowing and research center on Zambia’s Kafue River.

As a major tributary of the Zambezi River, the Kafue is responsible for powering much of Zambia’s limited industry through a hydropower system. It is the main source of water, both for drinking and agricultural use for the communities that line its shores.

When the WWF became concerned about the degradation of the Kafue’s fresh-water ecosystem, they turned to FISA in hopes that sport could help promote ecological awareness and health in Zambia.

“The competing claims on the water of the Kafue River are a microcosm of what is happening in many parts of the world. The region is experiencing a conflict in demand from the population’s need for clean water…the lessons we learn from studying this ecosystem and interacting with all stakeholders will be valuable for use in Kafue and all around the world,” said Bart Geenen, a Senior Water Expert at WWF.

FISA is also optimistic about the opportunities that the sport of rowing can bring to Zambian athletes of all levels; from children to Olympic hopefuls like Van Deventer:

“We can use this Centre to help develop our sport in this region,” said Christophe Rolland of the World Rowing Federation. “It will provide a resident facility for the nearby schools and universities as well as rowers from universities around the world who can conduct their water research.”

What does a research and rowing center mean for Zambian citizens? The Kafue River and Rowing Center presents a unique opportunity to fuse the natural and athletic components of rowing with health outcomes in Zambia.

A 2010 Global Burden of Disease study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation named gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular disease) as significant barriers to global health.

By promoting clean water research at the Kafue River and Rowing Center, scientists may be able to improve water quality and significantly cut down on the instances of intestinal disease. Additionally the aerobic and muscular benefits that come from rowing may help promote more long-term health in Zambian communities.

Emma Betuel

Sources: The Lancet, Rudern, World Rowing 1, World Rowing 2
Photo: worldrowing

Para-soccer Brings Hope to Nigerian Polio Survivors
Nigeria has recently reached the milestone of being polio-free for a year, however, the disease has left thousands of survivors handicapped. Although there is not a definite number on polio survivors in Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Polio Survivors has almost a million members.

In a culture with little community support for polio survivors, para-soccer has brought joy and purpose into the lives of Nigerian polio survivors.

Musbahu Lawan Didi, a polio survivor, originally created para-soccer in 1988. It was called ground handball at the time. After the Nigeria Association for the Disabled (N.S.A.S) heard about the game, it was promoted and expanded internationally.

The Women Federation of World Peace (WFWP) brought attention to the sport as well when the organization helped set up matches for the teams.

The first lady of Adamawa State, Dr. Halima Nyako, also helped in spreading the name of para-soccer. She sponsored the compilation of the rules and regulations into a booklet.

Slowly but surely the sport began to build. The Federal Ministry of Sports and Social Development officially approved the Para-soccer Federation of Nigeria to be a national sport federation in 2006.

Now the sport has international leagues in Ghana, Niger and Cameroon as well as national leagues within Nigeria. There are more than 24 state associations involved in para-soccer.

Through para-soccer, survivors who would otherwise be begging on the streets are able to make some money to help support their families. “Para-soccer has been an effective alternative to polio victims begging for alms to survive,” Didi said in a speech during the National Para-Soccer Championship in 2013.

Para-soccer is also being used as a tool to spread awareness about polio and the importance of vaccinations. Every year on World Polio Day there is a national para-soccer championship.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Al Jazeera, Bloomberg Business, NBF, Parasoccer Nigeria, Reuters, Time
Photo: Google Images

FC Barcelona, Global Citizen, Gates Foundation Unite to Combat Poverty
Although athletics are intended to be competitive, they have a unique way of bringing people together; a shared love for that game or passion for a team unites people across the globe. The most universally uniting sport, however, must be soccer.

Almost every kid ever participated in peewee soccer – remember the oranges at halftime? The game is played all over the world, professionally, collegiately and friendly. The international phenomenon is a simple concept (kick ball, score goal), perhaps one of the main reasons for its timeless universal success.

Soccer is global, and as one of the greatest teams in professional soccer, F.C. Barcelona is globally recognized for its international fan base and crazy-talented players, like Lionel Messi. Barcelona, however, is not solely praised for its talent on the field. The team is also receiving well-deserved credit for its efforts to end global poverty.

The F.C. Barcelona Foundation was founded in 1994 and gives Barcelona the opportunity to give back globally. All projects developed by the organization are centered on sports, and promote quality education and positive values. The efforts of the organization benefit children and adolescents of Catalonia and the world.

The recently announced partnership between the F.C. Barcelona Foundation, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will empower people to take action to end extreme global poverty.

These three major powerhouses will surely make a profound difference in many lives and raise awareness about the realities of poverty. The partnership will work in alignment with the United Nations Development Goals to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Sports have the unique ability to unite people from all walks of life. Mix that with advocacy and activism – a real game-changer. Together, Barcelona, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation unite to change the world and encourage others to play hard against poverty.

Barcelona just scored a stellar goal.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, FC Barcelona
Photo: FCFoundation

Arsenal_Football_Club
Arsenal Football Club has teamed up with Save The Children to support efforts to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change with the #DizzyGoals Challenge.

In a video sanctioned by action/2015, another organization dedicated to these goals, two players, one coach and one mascot participated in the challenge. The athletes can be seen putting their hand on a soccer ball and running around it in a circle—similar to the dizzy bat game. Once each player completed several circles, they were to take a shot at a goal.

Each of the soccer players fell in the grass on the soccer field, making the video and challenge comical and fun-filled. Joining soccer and charity together, Save the Children and Arsenal have worked together since 2011, raising more than one million euros for the charity’s important goals.

The #DizzyGoals Challenge was created to promote awareness for the action/2015 goals and campaign, Global Goals. All organizations ask that participants share their dizzy goal in a video on social networking sites.

The power of social networks is a large part of the Global Goals campaign. Several organizations, including Save the Children and action/2015, have joined together to help end extreme and unsafe circumstances around the world. Global Goals is one campaign that asks followers to upload videos and pictures to their social media profiles.

The objective of these organizations is to raise as much awareness as possible so that these goals can be met this year. The Global Goals website said that these goals will only be accomplished if all people are clued in.

“If the goals are going to work, everyone needs to know about them. You can’t convince world leaders to do what needs to be done if you don’t know what you’re convincing them to do. If the goals are famous, they won’t be forgotten,” the website said.

Global Goals also gave motivating advice to readers and philanthropists about change and humanitarian aspirations.
“We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality and the last generation to be threatened by climate change,” Global Goals said.

In accordance with this notion, other athletes have stepped up to promote this cause. Gareth Bale, a professional soccer player, posted his #DizzyGoals video on Twitter. The athlete shared this tweet with his followers: “Quality time with my mates filming my #DizzyGoals for @TheGlobalGoals.”

Usain St. Leo Bolt, a famous Olympian, also shared a video of him doing the challenge on Twitter. The runner can be seen laughing in the video, promoting the challenges ultimate goal—to make people smile.

Many more athletes in all levels of play have participated in this challenge, showing that sports is one way to bring people together and to promote change.

Global Goals said that this month, Sept. 25, 193 world leaders will meet to commit to change the world by 2030. They want to end extreme poverty, tackle climate change and fix inequality and injustice to make the world a better place.

To learn more about this important cause, visit globalgoals.org. To view #DizzyGoals challenges, search the hashtag.

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Global Goals, Look to the Stars, Twitter 1, Twitter 2
Photo: Pixabay

Charity_Challenge
Charity Challenge is a fundraising organization that operates in a different and peculiar way than many other organizations. They raise funds for different charities through various sports events or challenges around the world.

According to their website, Charity Challenge launches more than 100 sports events or challenges each year. These events vary from mountain climbs, bike rides, sky diving, dog sledding, skiing, among others.

The organization operates in more than 30 countries, which include places like Cuba, Morocco, Italy, Peru, Bolivia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Nepal, Ecuador, France, UK, and others.

Moreover, Charity Challenge supports various charities around the world that vary from different categories such as children, education, environment, animals, human rights, hunger relief, international aid, and many others. The participants of the Charity Challenge events can choose the charity they want to support with their donation.

Here are 6 Charity Challenge events for different disciplines:

Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek

This is an Himalayan trekking event where participants visit India’s exiled Tibetan community. The event includes visiting the Dharamsala, where the Tibetan community and the Dalai Lama are located, Uhl River, Taragarh Palace, the Taj Mahal, the Keoladeo National Park, and Fatephur Sikri.

This trekking event is in aid of any charity the participant wants to support.

Icelandic Lava Trek

This trekking challenge is about crossing the Landmannalaugar route through a very active volcanic area in Iceland. Participants are expected walk across snowfields, set up camp, and walk on rough ground. This event includes visiting the Blue Lagoon.

This trekking event is in aid of any charity the participant wants to give his support to.

Cuban Revolution Cycle

This is a 10 day cycling challenge that consist of an expedition from the Cuban capital, Havana to Trinidad. During this 350 km ride, participants have the chance to see the Che Guevara monument in Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sierra del Escambray.

This biking event is in aid of any charity the participant wants to support.

Cycle Machu Picchu to the Amazon

This challenge counts with a visit to Cusco and the Machu Picchu ruins. The cycling challenge starts in the ruins of Ollantaytambo following the length of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and then to the market of Pisac. From the market, the journey continues to the Andes, the village of Paucartambo, Tres Cruces, and the Amazon rainforest.

This cycling event is in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Nicola Murray Foundation, Challenge Cancer UK, or any charity chosen by the participant.

Great Ethiopian Run

In this 10 km running event, the participants run with more than 40 thousand runners in Africa’s highest city. The challenge gives participants a chance to visit Womankind Worldwide’s project in Addis Ababa.

This running challenge is in aid of Womankind Worldwide.

Dog Sledding Challenge

This is a dog sledding event in Sweden. Participants have the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights and the local wildlife from the Swedish mountains. Finally, the participants arrive into Kiruna, a northern Swedish city that is home of the Sami, a European indigenous group.

This dog sledding challenge is in aid of any charity the participant wants to support.

There are many ways to support charities and good causes, and Charity Challenge is an adventurous and sporty way for participants to support thousands of causes around the world.

Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Charity Challenge 1, Charity Challenge 2, Charity Challenge 3
Photo: Bath Cats and Dogs Home

youth_refugees_in_jordan
Amid continual civil war in neighboring Syria and threat of ISIS, the nation of Jordan has seen an influx of refugees fearing for their safety. Anywhere between 600,000 and 1.4 million refugees from Syria and Iraq have sought refuge in the neighboring country.

The Zaatari refugee camp is Jordan’s largest refugee camp and is located just outside the capital of Amman. Nearly 82,000 refugees live in the camp and approximately half of the inhabitants are under 18 years old.

When one thinks of poverty and refugee aid, skateboarding is certainly not the first relief measure that comes to mind. But in December 2014, Jordan’s first skate park was opened in the center of the nation’s capital.

“We will be looking to work with NGOs to bring those refugees over to 7Hills in the foreseeable future so they can learn how to skate and find a bit of happiness,” says Philadelphia Skateboards founder Mohammed Zakaria.

The park, better known as “7Hills” was funded by a crowd sourcing campaign initiated by Zakaria and Make Life Skate Life, an international nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage skateboarding to underserved, poverty stricken children. The $25,000 required to build the park was gathered in a matter of days and was constructed using an international volunteer workforce in less than three weeks.

With a self proclaimed mission of aiding the “under-served refugee youth in Jordan,” the park encourages and provides an outlet for youth refugees in Jordan and aspiring Arab artists to express themselves and share their ideas. Awareness & Prevention Through Art (AptArt) is another organization that has helped support the park and ostensibly, the refugee youth culture that the park gathers.

AptArt hosts workshops on creating large scale public art for disadvantaged youth and refugees. The subject matter of the artwork focuses on healing and rehabilitation from regional trauma and conflict. The motivation for these efforts is to unite the youth affected by expressing and sharing common experiences.

The Collateral Repair Project (CPR) is a nonprofit that provides an additional outlet of rehabilitation for refugees. CPR sponsors and hosts weekly skateboard lessons for displaced youth interested in learning. They also work to provide free skateboards and safety equipment to anyone that wishes to learn, but do not have money to purchase their own.

The fear of playing outside and being robbed of a normal childhood are tragic side effects of more conventional signs of poverty. What the 7Hills skatepark has done is provide a place for refugee children and young adults to forget their fears and regain a sense of normalcy by sparking an interest in a growing communal activity.

“In Syria, I couldn’t go out and play because of the war, but in Amman I can enjoy my time, stay out late and make new friends at the skatepark,” says Ahmed Rayen, a 9 year old skateboard enthusiast.

Zakaria first began skating the streets of Amman in 2002, before skateboarding had become a commonly acceptable pastime in the country. He recalls early on receiving societal backlash and consternation. Not to be discouraged, Zakaria founded Philadelphia Skateboards in 2009 which was the first and currently the only Arabic skateboard company. In an effort to popularize the sport in the Arab world and abroad, the company has supported local up and coming Arab graphic artists by using their designs on the skateboard decks.

“We wanted the decks to have graphics that represent us in the Arab world in a way. So we naturally couldn’t work with non-Arab artists,” says Zakaria.

These efforts have certainly inspired a wave of Arab skateboarders as the company now sells in multiple Arabic countries including, Egypt, Tunisia, UAE and Lebanon. European ex-patriot skateboarders living in the Middle East have even begun to take notice popularizing sales in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Zakaria states that sales to Europe have begun to grow as increased publicity about Arab skating has sparked an international interest in the brand as well as the 7Hills skatepark and its charitable efforts towards refugee kids.

Zakaria and his company Philadelphia Skateboards have become synonymous with the evolving skate culture that is burgeoning in the Middle East and in Jordan in particular.

“Many of our skaters, and the new kids we hope to bring into the park, come from broken homes or refugee families. We want to give them a healthy, free, accessible resource to enjoy life. Creating a place where underserved refugee youth can have free access to skateboarding…It’s been tough, but it’s been great to see people pitching in from around the world.”

Frasier Petersen

Sources: Mondoweiss, Make Life Skate Life, Al Jazeera, Jackson Allers, Huffington Post, 7 Iber
Photo: Mondoweiss

dreambig
With somewhere between 20.3 million and 25.4 million viewers and fans, there is no better stage to raise awareness and funds for an organization than the World Cup. And that is exactly what World Cup Champion Christen Press and her teammates set out to do during the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Prior to the Women’s World Cup, Christen Press partnered with Grassroot Soccer’s campaign DreamBIG. The entire US women’s national team supported the campaign that works with youth in Africa to improve health services, build leadership and empower a stronger tomorrow.

The organization, Grassroot Soccer, uses the power of soccer to reach people in developing countries and fight against HIV. Their mission is simple: “educate, inspire and mobilize young people to stop the spread of HIV.”

By using a tool such as soccer, offer considered a universal language in its own way, Grassroot Soccer has the ability to influence countless youth and adults in developing countries that need both the education over HIV and the leadership development to put a stop to it.

Since 2002, when Grassroot Soccer was founded, they are reached over one point two million people in 40 countries. Each year the organization continues to impact approximately 100,000 people in HIV stricken areas.

Fittingly, Press and the rest of the US Women’s World Cup took it upon themselves to support the organizations movement DreamBIG; a campaign that was created for the World Cup. This specific campaign will provide funding for mentors and health services to be sent to southern Africa, thus allowing them to “live healthier lives so that they can DreamBIG.”

Over the duration of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, DreamBIG raised $87,500 thanks to the support from the U.S. women’s team. The money raised from the tournament alone will provide training, education and the chance to build leadership skills through soccer for 3,500 youth between the ages of 15 and 18.

The organization is obviously doing good work, but of all the sports, why soccer? Why a sport at all? The answer is quite simple. Soccer has and does bring people together unlike any other sport. As the largest sport in the world, it is something every nation can connect to.

Soccer fosters skills in youth that help them later lead a better, healthier life. On top of that, for youth living in large cities with high crime, drug and violence rates, sports like soccer, and organizations like Grassroot Soccer encourage youth to keep off the streets and active in healthy choices.

The world of soccer is making even larger impacts than that though.

As foreign aid for education dropped, the United Nations asked the International Association Football Federation, otherwise known as FIFA, to “institute a 0.4 percent educational tax on broadcasting and sponsorship revenues” for the 2010 Men’s World cup and the five European leagues until 2015.

Within those five years, the point four percent educational tax generated over $200 million that will be used to provide basic education to two million children.

Building personal skills and improving education through soccer is tremendous, but the power of soccer is on the verge of growing even more. A new soccer ball that utilizes the energy of kick is in the process of being tested and made available.

That sounds great, but what does it mean? It means that the energy of impact when kicking the ball would be saved within the ball. That energy could later be used to power a variety of objects anywhere from a light bulb to an appliance.

Between skills, education and energy, Grassroot Soccer is onto a new type of aid work that will bring people from all nations together to create a prosperous future. With the help of donations, volunteers and groups like the US Women’s National soccer team, Grassroots Soccer will continue to improve the lives of millions of youth.

Katherine Wyant

Sources: SB Nation, World Bank, Grassroot Soccer
Photo: World Bank

Ultimate Frisbee Encouraging Prosperity in Chennai - TBP
Ultimate frisbee has been adopted in the slums of India as a team-building exercise to encourage unity and prosperity. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge in 2015, which gave immediate attention to “175 Grams,” a movie about ultimate frisbee and the team united by the sport.

Sports have rules and require dexterity. Ultimate frisbee gives players the freedom to set their rules without referees. It is a leisure sport in the United States, where teams wear matching uniforms and have decorated discs. Often times, events are scheduled at parks, where participants plan day-long activities.

The challenge by Sundance asked for submissions of videos or fictional narratives featuring positive stories about individuals or groups who are beating poverty. There were 90 countries that participated, but a moviemaker in India named Mirle won the competition with his documentary of teens in India’s slums who play ultimate frisbee.

Of the 1.1 billion residents in India, approximately 231,631,442 have been recorded as living in poverty, as of 2010. In coastal areas, fishermen live in depleted conditions. The environment deteriorates because it is vulnerable to natural disasters.

Manu Karan spent time in Boulder, Colorado and returned to Chennai, a city on the coast, in 2007 to complete his MBA program. He had learned how to play ultimate frisbee while in Colorado and brought the game back with him, becoming the founder and president of Chennai Ultimate Frisbee.

The city has 300 players and is home to most of India’s participants in the sport. Children of fishermen, ragpickers and shopkeepers watch other players and eventually join the fun.

Ultimate frisbee cut into bad habits adopted by teens, bringing purpose to lives that had previously felt directionless. These adolescents would often steal mangoes and get into fights on the streets. But all, even those who didn’t have shoes, televisions or enough money to play other sports, were welcome to play ultimate frisbee.

This sport can lift people out of poverty and halt repetitive bad habits. A code of ethics is passed on to both participant and bystander. “175 Grams,” the film created for the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge, features a team called Fly Wild, where a certain player is determined to continue schooling and maintain a humble reputation.

Teams contain a mixture of social divisions. Many players have different backgrounds, speak different languages, follow different religions and have different amounts of wealth. Men and women are mixed together in teams. There are usually three women for every four men.

Because of this sport, teenagers are learning how to respect others and dress professionally. Nongovernmental organizations such as Pudiyador and IndiCorps are using the sport to educate youth about leadership practices, the importance of unity and gender equality.

Facing separate creeds used to be intimidating, but ultimate frisbee essentially forces others to interact or reconcile, ignoring these differences for the sake of sport. People from the slums and people from upper-middle class families inspire each other. The poor aspire to learn English and desire higher education and opportunity.

Dan Rule, the coach of Australian ultimate players, helped to develop low-cost ways to keep Chennai’s under-23 team players in shape since they do not have access to a gymnasium or other basic equipment. The players of the Australian ultimate team also donated cleats to the players.

It has been seven years since the game was introduced to Chennai. The players of India’s first under-23 team are scheduled to fly to London in mid-July for an opportunity to compete for the World Championship. They have already won 11th place in competition for the World Championship in Dubai.

There are approximately five million people enjoying the sport in the United States. Ultimate frisbee creates family ties, inspires children and gives adults the opportunity to share their excitement for the game.

Fly Wild and U23 are responsible for shaping lives. People in impoverished India are encouraged to rise out of poverty. Teams are inspiring and uniting the youth of their communities through the sport.

Katie Groe

Sources: Global Post, Fast Company, Rural Poverty Portal, Huffington Post
Photo: Global Post