Millions of children suffer from extreme poverty every day of their lives, and as a result, they are forced to grow up too quickly. It is not uncommon for young children in developing countries to work since child labor laws do not exist or are rarely enforced in those countries. But children should have the opportunity to play and have fun – essentially, they should be given the chance to be children.
The company known as One World Futbol Project is granting children that exact opportunity one soccer ball at a time. Since 2010, One World Futbol Project has made, sold and distributed practically indestructible blue soccer balls to millions of children in more than 160 countries.
Children across the world will use just about anything to play this beloved sport: trash, rolled-up tape, fishing nets or anything else they can use. After watching a group of young refugees play soccer with a ball they created using whatever trash they could find and tying it together with twine, One World Futbol inventor Tim Jahnigen immediately saw the need to provide all children everywhere with a way to have fun and play soccer.
But these blue soccer balls are actually quite different from regular soccer balls in several ways. Jahnigen created these balls using closed cell foam and other materials to make them extremely durable, which is very important since a large majority of these soccer balls are sent to developing countries where children mostly play on rougher surfaces. Unlike normal soccer balls, these do not require a pump, will not be damaged by extreme temperatures or multiple punctures and they can even be used for a variety of sports, such as volleyball or netball.
Similarly to TOMS Shoes’ One for One program, One World Futbol Project also donates a soccer ball to youth in developing communities for every One World Futbol that is purchased. The company works with various organizations to ensure that these indestructible soccer balls are sent to the children in need of them most. This tactic has resulted in much success as One World Futbol Project has shipped approximately 850,000 soccer balls over the span of four years, while estimating that 30 million youth around the world have gotten the opportunity to play with them. With the World Cup currently underway, One World Futbol Project has recently sent 15,000 soccer balls to the youth in Brazil to enjoy.
Even though it is still a relatively new company, the progress One World Futbol Project has been able to make within that short amount of time shows just how many people want to help with this cause. The fact that Jahnigen was able to create this company with support from the musician Sting and make a difference in millions of children’s lives shows just how far a simple idea can go with support and dedication.
– Meghan Orner