Forget the controversy over the “Jabulani” soccer ball that took Adidas five years to design for the 2010 World Cup. Players and coaches complained that it was too light, too round and too fast. How about playing with a soccer ball made of bunched up trash and secured with twine? That’s what Tim Jahnigen saw in a CNN documentary that featured children in Darfur playing the game in a rocky field surrounded by barbed wire.
“One of the things that was discussed was that play is vitally important for children — all children — but especially for children in these horrible places,” says Janhigen, recalling the documentary, which, ironically he saw just about the same time Adidas was starting to work on the World Cup ball. “They explained that there’s all these great organizations on the ground all over the world in hotspots and war zone refugee camps that are organizing sports for this purpose.”
So Jahnigen, an inventor, lyricist, and music producer, got to thinking. Soccer is the most popular game in the world, and he wanted to do something so that kids could play, anywhere, anytime — especially kids living in war-torn and poverty-stricken areas where a pumped up ball has no chance of winning out against sharp rocks, broken glass, and razor wire.
“It hit me like a thunderbolt. I was like ‘Wow I can take this material that I’ve seen and I’m sure I can make a ball out of it that will never go flat,” says Jahnigen.
STING JUMPS ON BOARD THE ONE WORLD FUTBOL PROJECT
Jahnigen, who produces Sting’s bi-annual Concert for the Rainforest at New York’s Carnegie Hall, mentioned his idea to the musician. Sting jumped at the idea, offering to fund the research and development. “He just turned around and looked at me and said ‘If you’ll do it, I’ll pay for it.’”
Now, five years later the One World Futbol Project, co-founded by Jahnigen and his wife Lisa Tarver, is having its debut. The ball – which gets its name from Sting’s song “One World,” is fabricated from a closed cell foam material similar to what Crocs uses to make its ubiquitous clogs. It never needs pumping, and can weather being cut, punctured and flattened. The One World Futbol team calls it indestructible. Watch this video and see what happens when a truck rolls over the ball:
“One World Futbol is what is often called a ‘hybrid venture’ consisting of two entities: a for-profit business organized as a socially and environmentally Limited Liability Company (LLC) and a nonprofit foundation,” explains Mal Warwick, founder of Mal Warwick Associates|Donordigital, and part of the One World Futbol team, adding the company was confirmed the other day as a B Corporation.
“We are part of a growing trend of socially-responsible companies that are looking for ways to help global communities while at the same time operating a sustainable business,” Jahnigen says.
THE SOCCER BALL THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The One World Futbol project works on the “buy one get one” model. For every ball purchased through the company’s website, the foundation will donate one to a child in need through organizations working in refugee camps, conflict zones, inner cities, and poor communities. Warwick claims sales are already twice what the company projected for July — and it’s only been accepting orders since July 8th. The One World Futbol team is in talks with several global organizations, including NGOs, businesses and a UN agency to facilitate distribution of the balls.
“Our goal is to give away a million of these balls over the next three years,” Janhigen says. “We give this ball to a child today and they’ll be playing with their children’s children with the same ball. The ball’s as durable as their spirit.”
If you want to see the One World Futbol in action, take a look:
photo credit: Nancy Jo / Tulip Design