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Kick-starting dreams to reality

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  cn_rh_murrayDEC10-2-TThe San Jose Mercury News in California tells the story best: "The inspiration was a heart-tugging news report about traumatised refugee children from Darfur living in such horrific conditions that they were kicking around rolled-up trash as an improvised soccer ball. cn_rh_murrayDEC10-2-M

The San Jose Mercury News in California tells the story best: "The inspiration was a heart-tugging news report about traumatised refugee children from Darfur living in such horrific conditions that they were kicking around rolled-up trash as an improvised soccer ball.

"Tim Jahnigen learned that what often passes for soccer balls in developing countries are plastic bags tightly bunched by rough twine. Desperate kids even resort to playing with rocks when nothing else is available."
In 2008, Jahnigen and his wife Lisa Tarver were at breakfast with Sting, who told them he was helping build a soccer field for children in the Gaza Strip.

 

"What if there was an all-terrain ball, Jahnigen thought, that was capable of lasting even in the harshest conditions and could be distributed to regions of extreme poverty?" the Californian newspaper reported.

Let's make it, Sting told him.

Soccer balls essentially have always been an air-filled bladder covered by a protective surface.

"And if you put a hole in it, the ball becomes a piece of trash," Jahnigen added.

Here, in South Africa, to Jan Prinsloo – principal at AJC Jooste Combined in the little Free State town of Petrusburg – the problem was as maddening.

"We keep on buying soccer balls, one after another, and they are destroyed within a few days." The beautiful game is played on less than beautiful fields...

Jahnigen's solution? An innovative design with a cross-linked, closed-cell foam material similar to what's used in Crocs shoes and sandals

When a ball is crushed or punctured, it just returns to a round shape.
The result: One World Futbol, a durable ball designed to never go flat or wear out.

Today, in regions struggling with conflict or hardship – such as Burundi,Haiti and now in parts of South Africa – you now can find the blue and yellow balls being booted around by kids seeking a temporary escape from unimaginable challenges.

Chevrolet South Africa and Dreamfields have worked together in five communities so far.

"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," Dreamfields explains.

There you have it – a story of how genius technological innovation can change tens of millions' of kids' lives.

Do we – as a country – explore, encourage, invite innovation? Do we provide the most fertile-possible ground for innovation to flourish?

Tax breaks, bursary funds, idea-sharing platforms? We do plenty of this – but can we ever do enough?

"Pap" soccer balls may be the most pressing problem in a kid's life. For adults, innovation can often mean the difference between terrible suffering and some respite – even life and death.

Bring in the smart people.

Much of our future is in your hands.

 

Written by Murray Williams You are reading Kick-starting dreams to reality articles

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