One World Futbol passes out indestructible balls

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm •  Published: June 11, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Poor children around the globe come up with creative ways to make their own footballs, kicking rolled up tape, fishing nets or even broken off dolls' heads to play the world's most popular sport.

An indestructible blue ball being distributed in needy regions holds quite a promise for such kids: It will never pop, even when kicked over shards of glass or rocks. It will never wear out, even under extreme temperatures.

Lisa Tarver and husband Tim Jahnigen set out to distribute their One World Futbols to children who have never had a decent ball, or if they did, it deflated or shredded after a few weeks of play on rough surfaces. In just four years — the cycle between World Cups — they have shipped more than 850,000 soccer balls. They estimate more than 30,000,000 children have played with them.

Some 15,000 One World Futbols have gone to Brazil, host country of the World Cup kicking off Thursday.

Jahnigen and Tarver, from the San Francisco Bay Area, sell the balls for $39.50 and donate one for every one purchased. In addition, they work directly with charities and sponsors to get balls to the neediest areas. They have sent balls to children in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, to war-torn towns in Africa and to remote villages in the Brazilian rain forest.

"I love it, having traveled to different parts of the world and seeing how inventive kids get with soccer balls," said Julie Foudy, a former U.S. national team midfielder and TV analyst whose own kids use the ball. "... It's not until you go abroad and you see — remember Sissi who played for Brazil? — Sissi always tells a story how for a soccer ball when she was younger they would take a doll's head, they'd rip the doll off the doll's head and they'd wrap tape around the head and that became their ball."

This ball never goes flat, inflates itself after losing air and remains playable even if punctured, thanks to closed cell foam and similar material to those popular rubber Crocs sandals. That means no extra equipment required, such as a pump or needle. The balls also can be used for other sports such as volleyball.

"The ball is great. I'm fortunate to be involved with a lot of things that I'm passionate about, helping in ways that go beyond the soccer field, so I enjoy it," said American star Landon Donovan, the L.A. Galaxy forward.

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