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Making it More Beautiful: Guatemala

Lindsay Weber spent some time in Guatemala this past February. Thanks to Brian Dunseth, Ben Hooper & Co, she first came across Charity Ball through a post on the The Original Winger. I’ll let her share the rest of the story…

In February 2013 I set out for my fourth annual trip to Guatemala. I travel with a team that is part medical, part construction. The year prior I had played soccer every day on our site with two little boys, brothers. I noticed over the years that most kids play with makeshift balls, either old and deflated or made of thin plastic and the size of a grapefruit. That year I spent $10 to get the two boys a real leather ball from a nearby market. The gift to them was such a prized possession that they went to hide their ball in a safe place instead of playing with it! When I returned home I looked into bringing more balls with me the next time and that is how I came across Charity Ball.

I ended up making space for 10 balls in my personal luggage. I tagged along with the construction crew on the day they were visiting a 4 classroom school in a rural village. We traveled up a winding dirt road to be met by jubilant children dressed in the traditional Mayan clothing. We installed stoves and water filters, played soccer and basketball with the minimal equipment they had, and enjoyed a dance performance they put on.

We finished the day with my presentation and I had kept the balls in a large black bag to keep it a surprise. By the time I pulled out the first ball I was completely swarmed. I felt like Santa at Christmas! The kids were all smiles and laughter and pickup games broke out in the courtyard right away. I included a pump and extra needles for maintenance and the teachers of the school expressed their gratitude. When we left, the kids rang alongside our bus and waved us off all the way out of the gate.

This kind of experience is just as rewarding when you’re on the giving end as it is for those receiving a gift. The country of Guatemala is so incredibly poor and yet the people are so resilient. Something as simple as a ball really can spread joy. It truly is the beautiful game, in more ways than one.

Lindsay, way to go. Thanks for sharing the beautiful game with others. Let us know when you’re going back and well set you up with some more balls.

E

FC Barcelona Camp: Youth Soccer

I’ve got huge respect for Barcelona FC. As a matter of fact, my room back at my old house was actually themed out in Barcelona colors. You can imagine how excited I was when the guys who represent their youth camp reached out to us. As a matter of fact, the official Barcelona Camp is now an official sponsor of Charity Ball and the Play [well] Cup Tournament in Mozambique. I got with the guys recently and asked if they would be willing to drop a guest post on the Charity Ball Blog. Here’s what they put together…

When we heard about Ethan’s commitment to giving kids around the world the chance to play soccer, we knew we needed to get involved. We are the Official FC Barcelona Soccer Camp, and we love soccer and what it does for kids — not only athletically, but in terms of understanding what it means to be a member of a team, learning to compete hard but fairly, and being able to have fun while working towards a goal. We grew up with a soccer ball our feet, and Ethan’s dedication to giving that opportunity to as many less-fortunate children as possible is inspiring. We see some incredible players come through our camps, but what I find amazing is that the best players come from many different backgrounds — rich and poor, from every corner of the world. By giving the opportunity to play with a real soccer ball to as many people as possible, Ethan is an example to all of us who want to see the game we love grow, as well as those of us who grew up with a ball at our feet.

If you looking for a specialized soccer camp to take your skills to the next level, be sure to check out the website.

Més que un club!

-E

The PLAY [well] Cup

Back in January, I received an email from Neven Subotic. If you follow the game you know Neven #4 plays center back for Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund is one of the best clubs in Europe (currently the only unbeaten team in the Champions League). Neven contacted me and asked if I’d give him a call, so I did.

A lot has happened since then. Over the past few months we’ve worked together (with the help of Vox United and Food for the Hungry) to organize a youth soccer tournament for the kids of rural Mozambique.

In mid June, after the Champions League finals, I’ll be flying out and meeting Neven in Mozambique. We’re hosting the tournament, leading a training clinic and hand-delivering over 500 new Adidas soccer balls. The entire project is called the Play [well] Cup and is being presented by Charity Ball and the Neven Subotic Foundation. My coach and trainer, Brent Kowalski, who founded Heart Soccer Academy, will be joining us in Africa to help lead the training clinic. We’re also underwriting the installation of 2 new water wells so the people can drink clean water. One well has already been sponsored and my brother, Jade is leading the charge to find sponsors for the second one.

Mozambique (in southern Africa) is one of the poorest countries in the world. Most kids who live in these difficult situations will never have an opportunity to touch a real soccer ball, let alone own one, and then meet a professional soccer player from Europe. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Pulling off something like this requires a lot of work and some sweet sponsors. Right now half of the project is being sponsored by Charity Ball, Neven Subotic Foundation, Bumpy Pitch, Iedesigns, Heart Soccer Academy and few other anonymous donors.

It’s going to be amazing!

Want to help?

Here are two things you can do to help:

1. Business or Club Sponsorships 

I’m looking for like-minded people, businesses and soccer clubs that will invest and help make the project happen. My goal is to have all the project funds secured by May 1. If you like what we’re doing, we could really use your financial support. Contributions can be made toward the bottom of the Donate Page under “Make a General Donation”

If you’re connected to businesses or clubs that might be interested, let me know. If you have any questions, drop me an email or tweet. I’d be happy to talk with you.

2. Give Clean Water

The new community well that Jade is raising money for costs about $5K. He’s raised about $1K. This well will give close to 1500 people sustainable, clean water. If you do the math, that’s just a little over $3 per person. For $3 you can give someone the gift of clean water and the gift of life. If you want to help, you can donate here.

Thanks for caring. Thanks for helping.

Charity Ball: World Tour Update 03.17.13

Tom Bearor is currently traveling the world by sea- representing Charity Ball and hand-delivering new soccer balls to kids in 10 different countries. Check out this little update…

From Tom…

Deliveries have been amazing.

I have one story that I would love to share. One of my good friends on the ship was independently traveling in Burma. While walking down a few streets and alleyways, he stumbled upon a dirt soccer field with buildings surrounding it. He saw a few boys playing on the field with marbles – because they did not have a soccer ball.

He thought to himself, “What I wouldn’t give for one of the Charity Ball soccer balls at this very moment.” He has personally accompanied me in hand-delivering balls on the tour and has seen the joy it brings to children. He left the field, a little bummed. But after leaving, he noticed a mom and pop shop that was selling soccer balls. Without hesitation, he bought a ball. He then headed back to the field and played soccer with the kids for some time. When he needed to leave, he waved goodbye and started walking. One of the boys ran to him with the ball and held it out trying to give it back.Once my friend was able to communicate that the ball was a gift for them, the boys started jumping up and down in celebration. Back on the ship my friend told me that if it wasn’t for the Charity Ball project we’re doing, he never would have thought of doing what he did.

This is one of my favorite stories that I could ever tell. It proves that what we’re doing is not only making a difference in the lives of kids in developing nations, but also the students on the ship traveling the world. Any student who has had the opportunity of gifting soccer balls with me, or with Semester at Sea service trips has felt that it has been the best thing they have done on this voyage.

Tom, thanks for the update. Hopefully it will inspire other people around the world to do the same. -E

Play [well]

Many of you know my younger brother, Jade. He’s 11 years-old.

For sometime he’s been wanting to help do something to help people in Africa receive clean water. He came up with this idea of putting together a campaign that raises money through our partner organization, Vox United. I thought it was a great idea and so here is what we are going to do.

Charity Ball is partnering with Vox United to share the beautiful game and the gift of clean water with a village in rural Mozambique. Right now millions of people in Africa do not have access to clean water. Together we can change that.

To get the ball rolling, we’ve launched a PLAY [well] Campaign. Our goal is to raise $5000 to install a new community well that will give about 1500 people clean water. That’s about $3 per person or cup a coffee at Starbucks. For every $66 donated to the campaign Charity Ball will match it with a brand new, quality soccer ball. Why $66? Because $66 represents water for 22 people, which is the number of players on a soccer field during a game.

In the end, the village will have clean water and 76 new soccer balls to play the beautiful game for a long time. It’s going to be really cool.

Charity Ball will get the soccer balls, but we need your help to get the water.

Check this out…

If 152 people donate $33 each, it’s done.
If 50 people donate $100 each, it’s done.
If one business donates 5K, it’s done.

Want to help us get it done? You can donate to the campaign here.

Thanks for helping us bring the gift of play and clean water to people who need and deserve it most.

Oh, if you haven’t already followed Jade on Twitter, you can do so here @charityballjade

Charity Ball World Tour: Vietnam Update

Big Thanks to Tom Bearor, Emily Wood and Jackie Faryniarz for the leadership they’re bringing to the 2013 Charity Ball World Tour!

If you’ve been reading the Charity Ball Blog lately, you know that these guys have been on a ship the last several weeks visiting countries and hand delivering Charity Balls to kids in Asia. They are doing an amazing job. Tom just emailed me some pictures and a way-cool report from Vietnam. Check it out!

The ball deliveries have taught me more than I would have ever expected. Even at the age of 20, I am still learning about giving. Nay, I am still learning about the power of giving. Just like Ethan realized after gifting his first soccer ball, I am realizing the joy a ball can bring children. I had traveled before this trip, but never realized the power a gift as simple as a soccer ball can bring children. I am learning that a soccer ball brings more to children than a smile on their faces, or a ball to their home. A ball brings with it a world of new adventure, building of friendships in matches and passing games, and solitude in improving their skills, individually.

The gifting of balls has been nothing short of fantastic. Besides better teaching me the power of giving, we have been able to give children a smile that can last time and time again. A soccer ball will not leave them when I do, but will stay as a gift that keeps on giving. For example, after gifting balls to a group of local children and continuing my journey down the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam, I was pleased to see on my way back that hours after I had left, children were still outside playing.

Thank you, Ethan. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and for making it possible for over 500 children to share in the love of the game of soccer. Every kid deserves a ball.

Tom, thanks for what you’re doing! -E

Beyond Your Intentions

We’ve been talking about intentions lately at the King house. As a matter of fact this blog post is a result of some conversation around the table.

Everybody has good intentions from time to time. But what is the point in having a good intention if you never do anything about it?

When it comes to soccer, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve my game. After training sessions, I take time to evaluate my play. I write down the things I did well and things that need work. My intention is always to do something about the things that need work and get better. However, I’ve discovered that good intentions aren’t good enough. If I’m going to get better, I’ve got to move. I’ve got to practice. I’ve got to train. I’ve got to “do.” Intention without action is nothing. If I’m going to get better, I’ve got to act.

I’ve learned that it works the same way with Charity Ball. There millions of impoverished kids out there who would love to have their own soccer ball, but will never get one because of where they live. I can spend my entire life intending to do something about it, but unless I act, nothing will happen. I’ve got to get beyond my intentions.

Charity Ball started a few years ago with a simple act of giving away a soccer ball to kids in Africa. It really wasn’t a big deal. It was kind of a small deal. Through the process I’ve learned that a small act of kindness is more powerful then the greatest intention. One small act of kindness can change the entire world – for a kid, a family a village, maybe even a country. Imagine what several small acts of kindness could do.

If you read this blog, chances are good you love the Beautiful Game and have intentions to share it with others. Cool! Let me challenge you to get beyond your intentions and do something about it.

Want to help us share the Beautiful Game? Here are 10 small things you can do:

1. Follow @charityballnews on Twitter
2. Donate a tweet or retweet to help spread the word
3. Put a Charity Ball logo on your website, blog or facebook page (download a logo)
4. Get 25 of your friends to donate $1 and buy a new ball for a kid
5. Download a Charity Ball flyer from the footer and post at your school, work or soccer complex
6. Make a phone call to your local soccer shop and ask them if they would be willing to help promote the project or donate new balls
7. Collect soda cans or bottles and donate the return money
8. Get a Charity Ball T-shirt or patch and represent
9. Start a Charity Ball team at your club, school or business
10. Shoot a Charity Ball promo vid with your team or friends on your smart phone and load it to YouTube

Want to do something bigger like organize a tournament, become a corporate sponsor or donate massive amounts of money, drop me a note.

Thanks for caring.

2013 Charity Ball World Tour

The 2013 Charity Ball World Tour sets sail from the Port of San Diego this Wednesday, January 9.

The tour will take place over a 4-month period and 500 new, quality soccer balls will be hand delivered to kids in 10 different countries. Tom Bearer, a student at the University of Maine will be giving leadership to the the deliveries on the ground. Emily Wood and Jackie Faryniarz are also leveraging their semester at sea by representing Charity Ball in the effort. We anticipate some really cool stories and pictures coming our way over the next several weeks.Charity Ball World Tour 2013

Dates and countries are listed below. We will be publishing tour updates here at charityball.org and via Twitter @charityballnews. Be sure stop by and catch the latest, the greatest and pictures of all the smiling faces.

A big thanks to: Soccer World, John Rivers and Co., Bounce Athletics, SoccerPro.com and the players at Canton Celtic (Canton, MI) for helping sponsor the tour. This is going to be amazing!

Itinerary
China – February 3
Vietnam – February 12
Singapore – February 20
Burma – February 25
India – March 6
Mauritius – March 18
South Africa – March 25
Ghana – April 8
Morocco – April 18

Charity Ball’s Top 12 of 2012

We’ve compiled a short list of our favorite stories and events that took place over 2012. Obviously they are subjective and up for debate. Here they are in ranking order. Drop us a tweet and let us know what you think @charityballnews

charity ball, david beckham

12. David Beckham Goes Out In Style

On December 1, “Becks” finished out his contract with the LA Galaxy by taking home the MLS Championship. 5 years later, The Beckham Experiment has proved to be a huge win for US Major League Soccer. We’ll see what happens next.

charity ball, tim howard

11. Tim Howard’s Keeper Goal

Four days into 2012, Tim Howard (while playing for Everton) scored his first professional goal. It was off a monster boot from the inside of his own 18-yard line. He joins the soccer history makers by being the 4th goalkeeper ever to score in the Barclay’s Premier League.

charity ball, spain soccer team

10. Spain’s World Hat Trick

After winning the 2008 Euro, the 2010 World Cup, The Spanish International Team earned themselves a world tourney hat trick by taking home the hardware at this year’s Euro 12. Nice job boys.

charity ball, bounce athletics

9. Bounce Athletics Gives 5% Of Profits To Charity Ball

Bounce Athletics, a custom soccer ball company located in Petoskey, Michigan decided to partner with Charity Ball by giving 5% of their total sales to help share the Beautiful Game. To date, several hundred Bounce Athletics soccer balls have been hand-delivered to kids in poverty-stricken communities around the world. Learn more

charity ball, clint dempsey

8. Dempsey’s Outstanding Season

After scoring 17 goals, the most any American has scored in one season in the Premier League, Deuce rounded out the 2012 season with a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur. Way to put the biscuits in the basket #2.

charity ball, lakeshore premier

7. SoccerPro.com Sponsors Charity Ball

To promote the Beautiful Game and support the work of Charity Ball, SoccerPro.com helped underwrite tournament kits for the U14 Lakeshore Premier Team in Grand Haven, Michigan. The Kits were designed to create awareness and raise funds at a state tournament last spring. SoccerPro.com has been a huge advocate for Charity Ball and has been sponsoring projects and assisting with soccer balls for the last two years. SoccerPro

charity ball, usa vs mexico

6. US Men Beat Mexico At The Azteca

The USMNT made history on August 15. It was first time the US beat Mexico at the Azteca Stadium. With the home field advantage and the energy of 105,000 screaming fans, the Azteca is considered to be one of the hardest places to beat Mexico. This was definitely one of the best moments of 2012.

charity ball, chelsea

5. Champions League Glory For Chelsea

Roberto Di Mateo was the acting interim coach after Andres Vilas Boas was axed. Many people called it a fluke. Fluke or not, it was one of the most entertaining CL finale matches ever. Drogba gave the Blues a lifeline after heading home a corner kick in the 90th minute. He also sealed the deal by scoring the final kick in the penalty shoot-out to hand Chelsea the 2012 CL trophy.

charity ball, messi

4. Lionel Messi Breaks Goal Scoring Record

Lionel Messi scored his 86th goal of the year on December 9. The Argentine broke Gerd Muller’s standing 40-year, single season scoring record. Definitely need to respect the Barcelona magic man.

3. “I Like Soccer Balls” Video

Bass Creative and the folks at Ilikegiving.com produced a 5-minute video that revolves around the Charity Ball story. The video has been broadcasted in a variety of different places including halftime at the Real Salt Lake vs.Chivas MLS Game last spring.

charity ball

2. USA Women Take Gold At 2012 Summer Olympics

After an exciting semi-final match against Canada, the USWNT advanced to the olympic finals. They were met by Japan and battled it out for the championship. In the end, it was the ladies who took the gold and the prestigious center stage.

charity ball

1. Canton Celtic Soccer Club Raises $7,000 For Charity Ball

The Canton soccer club accomplished the impossible by raising over $7,000 in one week by collecting soda cans and pop bottles. A large portion of the soccer balls being hand-delivered on the Charity Ball 2013 World Tour (beginning January 9) are a result of the hard work and fundraising efforts of the Canton players. Charity Ball is proud to call this our number 1 of 2012. Canton Soccer Club

Why the Yellow Soccer Ball?

Have you ever wondered why the big soccer leagues like Barclays, La Liga, and Serie A, switch from using a white soccer ball to a yellow soccer ball mid season? Well I’ve done a little research and discovered that Nike introduced the yellow ball back in 2004/2005. Allegedly, the yellow colorway allows players on the pitch to see the ball better during cold, foggy, winter conditions. If you can see the ball better, you can respond quicker – which ultimately takes the game to a higher level of play.

Some people say it’s just a marketing ploy by Nike to sell more balls, so I decided to run my own test. I live in West Michigan where the weather is very similar to England this time of year. I went outside with my white and yellow soccer balls and held them agains the grey sky to see if one stood out more than the other. Sure enough, the yellow ball created more contrast and was easier to see. Check out the pictures below. I can definitely say that using a yellow ball in the winter months against grey conditions makes a lot of sense. Maybe we should start using them more in our youth leagues here in the States. -E