Just as the cardboard box the toy came in came be more fun than the toy alone, the fun of playing with a ball doesn't come from it being a 'proper' ball, but rather than it is a game to be played with others.
This is a first world solution to a problem that it created to make itself feel warm and fuzzy inside.
According to the article, regular balls are already being donated but usually go flat quickly. This basically means donations are currently being wasted. If this wasted money can be redirected into something which will not be wasted, that seems like a definite win.
Further, balls are not just used for neighborhood games, but by organizations which use football as a tool for reaching other goals. If these organization are at all helpful, scrounging in the trash for materials to make balls is probably not a good use of their time. An organization may need dozens of balls, and if a trash ball only lasts for an hour (just a guess, I've never played football with a trash ball), then they may need over a hundred of them a day. The opportunity cost of the time spent making trash balls is probably higher than the cost of these balls, especially if they can truly last for years.
You could apply the same thinking about opportunity cost to the children's time. If play is important for children and if making balls out of trash is not play, then giving them more time to focus on play is a win.
Having cool things seems to be universally enjoyable. This gives the children something cool, probably adding to the fun of playing.
Digging in the trash is probably a lot less safe than playing football.
According to the corporation's website, 20 million deflated balls are discarded in Africa every year. If these balls last longer, there will be an environmental impact.
And finally, the main ways other charity attempts backfire (economic damage, not meeting the whole need [providing things the community can't maintain/support], giving a fish instead of teaching to fish, etc) seem to just not apply.
There's no doubt that kids will be happy if you give them a shiny new football. They'll also be happy if you give them a secondhand t-shirt or new pair of shoes. That makes for lots of donor 'feel good' and nice photos on your Facebook page, but that doesn't make it good aid.
If the priority here is to do something helpful for the developing world, and that's why they're willing to put all the required effort and money into this project, then why not start by asking the developing world what their pressing problems are? Ask a few developing country governments and see how many of them report a lack of good footballs as a pressing problem.
When people don't ask questions like that it's usually an indication that the aid is more about the donor than the recipient. This project sounds a lot like TOMS Shoes Buy One Give One which has been frequently criticized for being a donor oriented initiative with little long term benefit . It might sound completely harmless to hand out free shoes to kids, but it ends up undermining local producers and sellers, and perpetuates a 'handout' aid culture.
There are no local producers of indestructible soccer balls. What will this undermine? I'm not trying to defend all comparable initiatives. I'm trying to understand the opposition to this particular one. Tom's shoes is a completely different issue.
Further, one cannot live on soccer balls no matter how indestructible. We aren't talking about giving out food for 10 years and then expecting someone to provide for themselves. We're talking about something that, where livelihood is concerned, is completely useless. A toy. I really do not see how giving a toy could create or perpetuate an expectation of handouts for any "real" aid. And I also don't see how handouts of toys can do any harm. I'm open to being corrected. I'm just letting you know why your argument hasn't convinced me yet.
Finally, asking someone what they want is not necessarily the best way to determine how to help them. I'm not suggesting that this is the best way to help. I'm just pointing out that, "If you want to help, ask, then do that," isn't foolproof.
Your argument seems to be that since footballs don't contribute to development, then this project won't do any long term harm or good. That just seems like a great shame to me - if we're going to invest all this money and effort, can't we find something to do that brings long term good? And something that won't perpetuate the common western view of places like Africa of hungry kids needing handouts.
But you're right that asking won't always yield the best solutions - let's say then you should spend sometime getting to know the place you want to help. Not convinced that has happened with this project.
"Social Mechanics: Bonding, Gratitude and Karma (Earthlings 101, Episode 7) "
Poor people are karma producers. Rich people are karma consumers. Rich people buy karma from poor people to make themselves feel better.
The whole Zog series is a fun (if a bit hard-line) presentation of evolutionary bio theory, in animated form.
Happy kids does not equal good aid? Really?
Handing out money to kids would make them happy too, but would also not be good aid
Sure first world quality soccer balls aren't necessary for children to have fun, but there is nothing wrong with an intelligent entrepreneur making them available to third world children.
If we all spent more time on projects like this instead of the next Twitter, or designing new weapons the world would arguably end up a better place.
" If we all spent more time on projects like this instead of the next
Twitter, or designing new weapons the world would arguably end
up a better place."
Doing something is not always better than doing nothing. As a matter of fact a great many things, perhaps even most, interventions do more harm than good.
I'd recommend starting off reading "White Man's Burden" if you are interested in the topic. For a more fun example, google "one million t-shirts for africa"
Unless money is diverted from more useful projects to buying balls?
I don't have enough information to say. Personally, I think this is a good project.
Fair enough. If this project siphoned off money that would have been used to provide food or medical aid then it could be seen as a waste. But it sounds like there is a mix of corporate sponsors providing money and a One Laptop Per Child style "buy two, get one" program for the general public.
It's like giving them a fish instead of a fishing pole…
If we will provide them food, they'll grow even more dependent on us :/
Is that fair?
Is it as important as teaching children how to farm their own food? It is very difficult to learn when you are not having fun. Children -- even adults -- learn best from play. I don't see the harm in having something that brings the neighborhood kids together.
There's also a big myth that people of the Third World don't know how to farm, don't know how to feed themselves. In the past, NGOs have brought in modern farming technologies that ultimately devastated the local environment and the ability for the communities to feed themselves. It's been a big problem, it isn't just about those "lazy" and "ignorant" Third World farmers who don't know how to farm and feed themselves.
Projects like the Open Source Ecology are much better suited for ... "teaching them how to farm their own food", and they need people. If you're concerned about this one entrepreneur and want to do something about it, see what you can contribute to OSE.
Twitter was instrumental to communication during the Arab Spring. In general, it has served as a very nimble and functional communication medium that has, in some cases, surpassed the speed and breath of news networks for covering events in real time.
Open and powerful platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren't just outlets for wasting your time, but can be used in meaningful and impactful ways. The game is far from over - we still need people to build products like Twitter .
People need to stop thinking of the developing world as a simple place with simple problems.
I went to a private school in England - about as far removed as the kids this ball is aimed at - and therefore for us money was never the problem, but sometimes due to various reasons we'd be playing football in school breaks using a tennis ball, and we'd much preferred to have a real football to play with but happened not to that day. That doesn't take away from the fact that we still enjoyed ourselves with the tennis ball, and no doubt if circumstances had required it we could have enjoyed ourselves with a self-made ball.
The current solution doesn't have to be unenjoyable for this to be a great improvement
If you're a kid anywhere, and you have a choice between a ball that bounces well and has a sweet spot that lets it leap off your foot and doesn't hurt or make you bleed when you get smacked in the face with it, you.will.prefer.that.ball.every.single.time.
This seems like a no-brainer to me. These kids don't need a regulation ball, and they deserve better than trash.
While this may be marketed on the basis of "Do it for the children," sport specifically and play in general are important mechanisms of adult social interaction. Futbol is no more a child's game than dominoes.
Tangentially related to this point, I've often wondered if this is simply a zero-sum game, and the unity you gain through supporting a particular team comes at the cost of disunity with supporters of other teams.
Sports team rivalries produce all kinds of stupidity the world over. People are routinely killed or severely injured simply because of the sports team they support.
Ah, how I wish I had been told when I was younger "no more Lego for you, you're having plenty of fun with the one set you do have". I needed to have my wings clipped for my own good!
Well...that's always helpful.
Indestructible balls will only lead to a race of stronger, indestructible-ball-destroyer children.
There's another charity called Alive & Kicking that makes more traditional balls. The main advantages are that the balls are actually made in Africa, giving people jobs, and the outside of the balls have HIV/AIDS awareness messages on them.
The biggest downside is that the one I got is slightly out of round, though for anyone playing on a dirt "field", it wouldn't matter that much.
Overall, it's kind of incredible what they've been able to do with it. That said, I wouldn't choose to use it over a regulation ball. But if it's all I had, I'd be glad to play with it.
I understand that something like the iPhone or a Tesla S cannot be manufactured out there. Supply chain issues, profitability concerns, reliability of production, etc etc. But these balls are anyway meant for Africa, they are meant to be given away, and they are supposed to be in a charitable cause. The complexity of production is (presumably) much much lower than manufacturing an iphone, there isn't much of a concern for profit, labour would be as cheap in Africa as it is in China, if not cheaper, and periodic disruptions in production won't affect the stock price of any large corporation.
So why not?
Not to mention that setting up your own factory is a massive amount of work compared to simply coming up with a design and outsourcing production to an existing supplier. Best to start with small steps for the first iteration.
What We Do
Alive & Kicking manufactures quality sports balls in Kenya, Zambia and Ghana. Our footballs (soccer balls), volleyballs, netballs, handballs and rugby balls generate employment for over 120 people, provide a product tailored for the African market and are used as a tool for raising health awareness.
Established in 2004 by the late Jim Cogan OBE, an inspirational teacher with a passion for African development, we are the only formal manufacturer of sports balls on the African continent. His vision was to see the large scale production of sports balls in Africa – to use the continent’s passion for football to boost local economies, provide children with the right equipment to play and to use sport to help combat the spread of deadly disease.
This vision drives Alive & Kicking to this day.
We are a social enterprise – an organisation that uses business practices to pursue our charitable objectives:
Creating sustainable employment in the manufacture of sports balls
Ensuring that disadvantaged children have access to balls that are suitable for the conditions
Using sport to raise health awareness in sub-Saharan Africa
The standard Alive & Kicking ball is made of African leather, which makes it twice as resistant to puncture as the most robust synthetic ball on the market. This helps our balls to be competitive in African retail outlets, where the majority are sold. We also supply NGOs, companies (for CSR and marketing) and government departments.
Each of the 120 people that we employ typically supports an extended family of six people on their salary, so their jobs are extremely valuable to their communities. By focusing on sustainable solutions to real problems, Alive & Kicking is driving change in the communities in which we work.
Bought 1, and will take 1 with me to my hometown next summer. This is not a cure for inequality, it will only make a temporary difference for the little people who are bound to suffer a lot further in their lives. I don't have any illusions of having done my part or anything, which is something that is being marketed at Starbucks with fairly traded coffee, donations etc. This is something I am doing, because I want the kids to be happier right now.
Let me tell you that scoring a goal with a can of coke it's priceless!
That aside, this is a fabulous thing. Anyone can play football in tight spaces with a group and on their own. Being the biggest sport on the planet, it's a marvellous thing that you can go literally anywhere and ask someone to play a game and you pretty much all know the simple rules. I'll always get behind things like this.
I've seen foam footballs before... (after google search):
and they're much cheaper than the proposed one (you can get them for 1-2 dollars), but probably way less durable.
"A lion at the Johannesburg Zoo, who would go through six regular balls a day, played with two balls. A German shepherd spent a year biting on a ball. In every case, the balls withstood the abuse."
That does sound durable. As stated, U$ 40 is way too expensive for a ball, so the only way it will work is if they continue giving them away as part of relief efforts.
Unicef: "“compared to the $2.50 we pay for a regular football, the current cost difference for the more durable solution is currently too high.”"
And the shipping problems are also a hindrance.
"because the balls cannot be deflated, they are more difficult to ship"
This also provides income replacement for the little children who are no longer stitching traditional footballs.
 Sorry for the "over there" which is a lazy perhaps offensive way to refer to the developing world.
I've played with it, my son has one. It has a weird way of bouncing, compared to inflated ones.
Do you think it could be durable as the OneWorldFutbol?
Congratulations to Sting and Tim Jahnigen, this is heart warming.
Regarding the cost of the balls, I think when you factor in a 30 year life and assume a cost of $30 per ball, we are looking at a $1/year cost. The up front cost might be higher, and that is an issue, but the actual cost per ball/year is a heckuva lot less. I'm not sure what kind of calculation Unicef is doing when they say “compared to the $2.50 we pay for a regular football, the current cost difference for the more durable solution is currently too high.”
The game is officially, "soccer" in the U.S. [United Sates Soccer Federation] and Canada [Canadian Soccer Association].
FIFA calls the game beach soccer, "Beach Soccer." It is played under the "Beach Soccer Laws of the Game."
This definition applies to the FA per it's constitution and bylaws.
"All Clubs and Aiffliated Associations shall play and/or administer football in conformity with
these Rules and also:
(a) The Laws of the Game (as deﬁfned in the Articles); and
(b) the statutes and regulations of FIFA and UEFA which are in force from time to time."
[THE RULES OF THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION LIMITED, page 1]
Here is a list of references to "association football" on the FA's Website: https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Athefa.com+%22associat...
"Beach Soccer" is of course relevant because that's the name of the game sanctioned by FIFA.
In most languages, it is called something very similar to football.
Since I don't have a native English language, I prefer to call it football for that reason. I don't give a damn about its history, soccer's origin as association football, etc etc.
Football is Fussball is fotboll is futbol is fudbold is futebol is futball is fútbol is ..
Brits were truly the only ones calling it Football.
1. They required one of us to purchase a soda (and chug it)
2. The cans only worked on asphalt and concrete. We couldn't play on grass.
3. Since the crushed cans had sharp edges, they ruined our shoes.
4. Occasionally they would take to the air and become dangerous flying projectiles.
That said, they were far more reliable than actual soccer balls, which we could buy easily from sporting stores. They didn't go flat (they already were, ha!) and didn't need to be inflated regularly.
"At the end of September, the factory in Taiwan that produces the balls has been working two shifts a day to meet its target of 45,000 balls a month."
Do we have a production problem? Maybe I missed it but it seems so. If Chevrolet is buying 1.5m balls in three years, that's 500,000 balls per year. If production is ideally reaching 45,000 balls per month, that's leaving very few for defects and other buyers.
The other thing I thought of is that, if the ball is virtually indestructible, at some point there are enough balls deployed/in-place and we can stop production all together, right? At 500,000+ balls per year, how many years will it take before everyone who wants one has one? I know there are a lot of poor areas but surely there's a number at which point critical mass has been reached.
Man that must have been one bored shepherd.
How common are these B corps? Any other notable examples?
For the nine months ending in September they increased their cash position by 7.2 billion if I'm looking at their financials correctly. Their net income for the last quarter was 1.8 billion.
Is that crazy?
My brain hurts. If a ball that costs $20 and lasts 30 years is too expensive, then a ball that costs $2.50 and lasts a day is also too expensive. This is not a difficult math problem.
* What happens when they get wet? Does it get a lot of mold?
* What happens during a flood?
* How fast the surface wears away?
* What happens when a dog bites it?
* Does the dirt accumulate inside and make the ball heavier?
It's looks like an interesting idea, but the 30 years claim is a little optimistic.
Ahhh... that was easy.
Now: take your pet, snap its neck, and throw it in the trash. Then make a list of your family members and sort them by value. Get the least essential ones out of your life, by hook or by crook. Finally, start removing your least essential fingers. You can type with just two! Focus, focus, focus. This world is made for Big Thinkers, Important Ideas, and Stuff That Matters. Like you, your worthless values, and your blithering cynicism! It's all about YOU!