As the mother of soccer players (both of whom are now too old for schoolboy sports, but never too old for pickup matches wherever they can find them), I read a story in the New York Times today that made me smile. “Joy that lasts, on the poorest playgrounds,” said the headline. It was about soccer—the universal language for love of a ball—and a new kind of material to play it with: PopFoam.
It was a story about an entrepreneur driven to develop PopFoam soccer balls for kids in some of the poorest parts of the world, where a ball is often just something that can be made to roll, even if it’s more oblong than round.
How many times have I witnessed that joy the headline heralds? It’s one of the thrills of any visit to the field I have ever taken for Oxfam—to catch sight of a game on a patch of rough earth, on the foundation of a ruined house, beyond the mud walls of a compound. Plumes of dust billow at each bounce of the ball, feet flying after it. No shoes? No one seems to mind. The ball is all that matters.
A whoop. A score.
And the game goes on. Read the rest of this entry »