It’s a simple idea which carries with it a vast richness of reward and it seems to be catching on.
Former Red Deer College soccer player Nick Moskulak was on vacation in Morocco with his girlfriend when they observed some children playing soccer with a combination of string, plastic, rubber and a bag, all taped up to resemble a ball.
“While we were eating dinner we watched these kids play and they couldn’t be happier with what they had but with both of us being soccer players, we just couldn’t leave knowing they didn’t have a proper ball,” he said. “So we went and found one in one of the shops and gave it to them.”
That really got the ball rolling in an effort to connect with other travelers and make this into something bigger than the two of them. This was really the birth of “The Ball is Round” which simply described is purchasing soccer balls of all types and sending them with travelers to different locations around the world to gift them to young boys and girls who could use something to kick around.
“We’re both really passionate about children and sport and the power of what sport can do for children and not just competitive sport, just activity. I really believe that strong learners come from active bodies,” said the physical education teacher.
Since that first opportunity in Morocco Moskulak says more than fifty balls have been handed out through the organization and the reaction is generally the same by those doing the giving and the young children doing the receiving.
“There’s no words needed. You don’t need to explain to someone what you’re doing, even if you can’t speak the language, they know you are giving them a ball to play with. It’s really an amazingly powerful feeling of connecting with another person on a level which is so basic.”
The sensation he felt from this first occasion repeats itself each time and Moskulak says it’s now the same for the travellers he supplies with soccer balls to hand out to kids when they vacation.
“Every person who has bought a ball from us says we’re going to do that again,” he said.
Recently a woman took soccer balls to Guatemala to give to a boarding school. The school had a boys and girls soccer team but the girls couldn’t play when the boys played because the school had only one soccer ball. “So one of the balls she brought with her was this really nice pink ball and when the girls saw that ball they were hysterical because not only was she bringing them a ball but they knew that ball was for them and it would only be for them.” Moskulak says if those turn out to be the last three soccer balls he gives out then he’d be fine with that simply because of how this simple gesture turned around a portion of the lives of these young girls.
It’s been under a year since “The Ball is Round” kicked off and various soccer balls have made their way to young boys and girls around the world covering 16 countries.
“That’s one of the things I love about this is that I don’t need to send a thousand soccer balls, one ball is so powerful. You can have one ball and you have thirty or forty kids playing. You now have given an opportunity for a whole village to play, not just that one child,” he said. “I mean I’m not curing disease or famine but giving kids the ability to play I think is one of the greatest gifts we can give kids.”