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12.07.2010 - 10:12PM

Category: Corporate Social Responsibility

CSRwire Member Spotlight: Big Ball of Hope

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By CSRwire Contributing Writer Jayne Flannery

One small soccer ball can make a massive impact on the quality of life within some of the world's poorest communities. Mal Warwick, Managing Director of One World Futbol, a certified B Corporation, explains how to Jayne Flannery.

Football is beyond a doubt the most popular game the world has ever known. Countless millions of young people around the world devote innumerable hours to the sport. In developing countries, where unemployment and destitution are rife, the game has a special place in young people's dreams, aspirations and in community life. From the barrios of Brazil, to the backyards of Benin, youngsters can be found somewhere kicking a football.

A football may seem a small and insignificant thing in our affluent societies. Yet millions of young people make do with rocks, rag balls or even bottles. Or they don't get to play their beloved game at all. Conventional footballs cannot withstand much of a battering on a rough pitch. They quickly puncture, deflate and are discarded.

Tim Jahnigen, founder of the One World Futbol Project, came up with a simple, but stunning solution. A football that plays like any other ball, but is virtually indestructible and will last for generations. Moreover, the Project aims to donate a million of these footballs to the world’s most disadvantaged communities over the next three years.

"One of the most important lessons we have learned from launching this Project is that small things can make a big difference," says managing director Warwick. "Anyone who purchases a soccer ball under our 'Give One Get One' model allows us to donate a further soccer ball to a non-government agency partner. It is not much money; it is just a soccer ball. But that ball has the capacity to make a very big difference to a whole community of young people somewhere."

Soccer, he explains, has an impact that extends far beyond the actual game itself. "Football has a vital role in reconciliation and reintegration," he continues. "It has a fundamental place, not only in play, but also in conflict resolution, leadership, HIV/AIDS education and peace-making skills."

The balls are formed through an injection molding process from a special type of plastic foam, which has a patent pending. "The material is petroleum-based, which is unfortunate, but because the balls are impervious to normal wear and tear, we believe they also offer an important environmental advantage because they will technically last forever. Standard balls, on the other hand can be in the trash within a matter of days or even hours of use."

"During trials, we worked with the director of a large camp for former child soldiers in Rwanda. We donated a hundred balls. A year later, the director told us that each and every one of those balls was still in use. He believed the camp would have gone through at least a thousand standard footballs during that time."

At present, the balls are manufactured in Canada and are available for purchase within the US to individuals and organisations through the Project's website. Thousands have already been distributed in the field through NGO partners.

The One World Futbol Project trades as a certified B Corporation, which means it works on behalf of its stakeholders, rather than shareholders.

"From the outset, it was very important to us that what we perceive as an environmental and social justice effort should be validated by an external body who posed very tough and rigorous questions. It is also important because we see the One World Futbol Project as part of another broader movement, which seeks to use the power of business to bring about positive change in the world. By becoming a B Corporation, we are declaring our participation in that movement and our desire to support other people and organisations who want to improve life on the planet."

About One World Football Project

The One World Futbol Project was established in March 2010 and launched in July. It consists of a for-profit company and a nonprofit foundation. The company sells the One World Futbol wholesale directly to institutions and organizations, as well as to individual consumers through a "Buy One Give One" model. Balls are donated by the company to non-governmental organizations who work with young people in harsh, demanding environments around the world, including refugee camps, UN hot spots, conflict zones and inner cities.

The mission of the One World Futbol Project is to make it possible for anyone, anywhere, in any community to play soccer with a ball that matches the endurance of the sport.

Visit www.oneworldfutbol.com to get involved.

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