Surgical Poverty
At the age of 21, Bukayo Saka is not just the face of Arsenal Football Club, he is the face of every Nigerian who emigrated to North London. He is the face of every black child whose dreams ignite as the Emirates symphony floods the night. Despite his tender years and relaxed demeanor, Bukayo Saka is not ignorant of the significance of his example. He has already inspired generations with his tireless work ethic and mercurial footwork. However, his recent partnership with BigShoe aims to fill a much bigger pair of boots. Bukayo Saka and BigShoe are fighting against surgical poverty, which hampers the prospects of children everywhere.

The Issue of Surgical Poverty Amongst Deprived Children

A Meta-Analysis by Bull World Health Organ found that 1.7 billion children could not access surgical care in 2017. This surgical poverty exists intensely in low-income communities, where less than 3% of children can access life-saving medical care. Surgical poverty has a devastating impact on children under 5 in particular. Treatable birth defects, injuries and diseases cause mass disability and death. In 2019, 5.2 million children under 5 died from treatable causes. Despite meaningful progress in infant mortality rates this century, surgical poverty still wreaks havoc amongst the poorest children.

BigShoe’s Mission to Provide Impoverished Children With Critical Surgery

BigShoe is a charity that funds critical operations for children who cannot afford them. It began with a fundraising campaign for Nourisson, a little girl who was born in Togo with a cleft. Today, BigShoe is a vast NGO that encourages prominent football players around the globe to fork out large sums of money, funding operations for needy children. Mesut Özil, Antonio Rüdiger, Phillip Lahm, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Paul Pogba are some of the high-profile players who partnered with BigShoe over the last two decades. Since the creation of BigShoe during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, BigShoe has facilitated essential operations for 2,398 children in need, as of January 2023.

Bukayo Saka and BigShoe

In November 2022, Bukayo Sako joined a growing community of premier league footballers who dedicate their platform and paychecks to charitable causes. In keeping with the example that his peers set, Bukoyo Saka made a diligent donation. Together, Bukayo Saka and BigShoe facilitated 120 life-changing operations for impoverished children.

Speaking about the new partnership, Bukayo Saka stated: “I feel blessed to be in a position where I can contribute to making the children’s lives easier and better through these surgeries… for me, it is very important to use my abilities to have a positive impact where I can. I want to do more and more and help as many children as I can.”

Whilst not much older than a child himself, Bukayo Saka speaks with wisdom beyond his years. Bukaya Saka seems determined to make a lasting impact with his influence and money. The young cub sets an example for his senior premier league peers who are content to live lavishly. Child poverty remains rife in the modern world, but even one player can make a massive difference. Bukayo Saka and BigShoe play for the most important team of all, as the future of the planet rests in the health of the children.

– David Smith
Photo: Flickr

Mesut Özil’s Charity WorkMesut Özil is one of the world’s wealthiest soccer players. In addition, Mesut Özil’s charity work has related strongly to his athletic efforts. He previously played for Arenal London and recently joined the Turkish club Fenerbahce Istanbul. Arsenal London declared a 12.5% pay cut for its players and manager Mikel Arteta due to the pandemic. However, Özil rejected this cut. As a result, he created discrepancies between him and the club and Özil no longer underwent selection for games. While Özil received some criticism from online communities, many fans continued to support him because he donates significantly to charities.

Özil Recognizes His Privileged Position

Mesut Özil was born in Germany as the fourth child of Turkish immigrants. Özil’s family struggled financially throughout his entire childhood and his mother had to take on several different cleaning jobs to make ends meet. As a result, Özil recognized his incredibly privileged position as a successful soccer player. He is extremely compassionate toward impoverished communities. Thus, Özil has been giving back to those who desperately need aid.

Supporting Impoverished Communities

Özil’s salary at Arsenal London was an estimated $25 million a year in 2013. Thus, the 12.5% cut would have decreased his salary by about $3.2 million a year. Additionally, the club and its billionaire owner Stan Kroenke would gain his loss. Furthermore, Özil and other players were doubtful that their pay cuts would actually aid staff members. Özil stated that he was even willing to give up more of his salary if the club could prove it was necessary. In the end, he decided to increase his charity work instead.

Mesut Özil’s Charity Work

Özil’s refusal to accept the pay cut placed him in the center of media attention in 2020. However, many have known him for his incredibly generous nature for a long time. For example, Özil donated his prize money of $329,000 after winning the World Cup in 2014. He donated to the BigShoe project and financed vital surgeries for 23 children in Brazil. Additionally, Özil and his wife donated to 16 refugee camps in Turkey and Syria after their wedding. Their contribution provided food to about 100,000 people. Furthermore, the couple funded important surgeries for about 1,000 children around the world.

The Way Özil Spent the Money he Refused to Give Up

Özil donated money to support people in need all across the globe after rejecting Arsenal’s pay cut. Homeless shelters and schools in North London received nutritious food in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, he increased his financial contributions to the BigShoe project to provide children with much-needed surgeries. He also donated $111,542 to the Turkish Red Crescent in May 2020. The money went toward feeding families in Turkey and Syria during Ramadan. Mesut Özil’s charity work also introduced a new range of footwear and donated all of the money that the footwear earned. It granted children in Italy access to digital education materials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fans and the media continue to criticize Özil’s refusal of the pay cut. Many consider the money he donated to impoverished communities to be more important than giving it back to Arsenal. However, Özil’s charity work has had an undeniable positive impact on many people’s lives.

– Bianca Adelman
Photo: Flickr