Chevrolet Growing Dreams with the Miracle Ball
For Jan Prinsloo, principal at AJC Jooste Combined in the little Free State town of Petrusburg, the problem was simple. And maddening. "We keep on buying soccer balls, one after another, and they are destroyed within a few days," he said. "The reason the balls don't last is because the children play soccer every day, all day."
Playing soccer every day, all day – that is what the Dreamfields Project has been trying to achieve for seven years (of course we want the children to spend time in school too). And the Petrusburg problem, where the beautiful game is played on less-than-beautiful fields, is one we know all too well.
We’d been scratching our heads about the short life of most soccer balls for some time. And then we got involved with Chevrolet South Africa. “Globally the Chevrolet message is about moving the human spirit through the power of play and ingenuity. That is what the brand is about,” says Tim Hendon, Brand Manager for Chevrolet South Africa.
It was the extraordinary ingenuity – and seriously hard work – behind the creation of a nearly indestructible soccer ball, called the One World Futbol, that prompted Chevrolet to get behind this initiative as founding sponsor. The One World Futbol is the brainchild of Tim Jahnigen, an American musician and entrepreneur.
In 2006 Jahnigen was watching a documentary about Darfur which showed children playing football with balls made out of garbage and string. “The only thing that sustained these kids is play,” he said. “Yet the millions of balls that are donated go flat within 24 hours.”
Jahnigen was determined to come up with an answer. And when he mentioned the idea to Sting, who he’d collaborated with musically, the world-renowned musician agreed to fund the research.
Watch Jahnigen and Sting talk about an innovation that has now reached children in 160 countries: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRCWswve_vM
Chevrolet has committed to distributing 1.5 million One World Futbols around the globe. And in South Africa these balls are part of a much bigger investment in growing the dreams of young people through football. “We’re involved with Dreamfields as a partner in putting soccer leagues into schools because we’ve always believed that the children are our future,” says Hendon. “They are going to be in government one day, they are going to be our leaders, and it’s absolutely critical that they grow up well adjusted.
“There’s that old saying: There are as many lessons to be learned on sports field as there are in the class room. You learn team work, you learn to communicate with one another and you get fit. And the real benefit for the school is that the discipline on the sports field gets transferred into the class room.”
Chevrolet South Africa and Dreamfields have worked together in five communities so far: Petrusburg and Botshabelo in Free State, Maviljan in rural Mpumalanga, Vosloorus in Gauteng and Schauderville/Kwazakhele in Port Elizabeth. Each of these communities has benefited from DreamBags of soccer kit, a coaching workshop for teachers and the setting up of a DreamLeague to keep them playing. And, of course, some One World Futbols to make sure the play never stops.
You can watch the Maviljan DreamEvent here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsRpwkARo4A
Dreamfields’ Silas Mashava has played a big part in the coaching programme. “The one thing that always stands out when you leave the metro areas is that there is a lot of hunger for knowledge,” he says. “I think the coaches get excited to learn the little we are able to teach them. That little bit will go a long way in making sure that football grows in this area.”
For football to grow the balls need to keep on rolling. “If you are playing with a ball that goes flat when you kick it into a thorn bush, you may as well leave it in the cupboard,” says Hendon. “The One World Futbol ensures continuity so that the children can carry on playing and practising. This is a miracle ball.”