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NEW YORK -- Sting is sitting in the lotus position on a plush white
couch in his bright Central Park West apartment, talking about how a
soccer ball might change a poor child's life.
"Instant, instant joy!" says the singer and activist.
And so he has co-founded a nonprofit group that is sending soccer
balls to children in some of the most troubled places on Earth.
Indestructible soccer balls.
"These kids have got nothing," Sting notes as a uniformed servant
hovers in his doorway with a silver tray. Sting says that very poor
children sometimes fashion their own soccer balls out of crumpled
plastic bags tied together with twine.
The kids live in rough places -- Rwanda, Afghanistan, the Palestinian
territories. They might end up kicking a soccer ball around garbage
and glass. That's where the indestructible part comes in.
Sting funded research and development to create a strong, long-lasting
ball that had the "same weight and consistency and feel" as a soccer
ball. It took a year. But here it is, about $8 to produce, to be
replicated by the thousands, bright yellow and printed with the words:
"HOPE Is a Game-Changer"
"Most soccer balls are inflated, they're plastic, or traditionally
leather, but they break, they get deflated, and they get punctured,
and it's useless," Sting says. This ball is different. "It's made of
foam, it's solid."
"It kicks like a soccer ball," he adds. "I've kicked it, I've headed
it, but I haven't scored a goal with it yet."
Sting played soccer as a child in northern England, and later with his
own children, and he still roots for Newcastle United.
His partner in the project is traveling philanthropist Bobby Sager,
who befriended Sting at a hotel bar on the Copacabana Beach in Rio de
Sager assembled a book of photographs he took of refugee and
war-impacted children, and is putting the proceeds toward the
The pop star, who has supported various environmental causes,
acknowledges that in the world's poorest places, children also need
food and medicine.
But soccer balls matter, too, he said. The game can develop a sense of
cooperation, leadership -- and fun.
"Play is important," he says. "As important as anything else, really."
Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/01/AR2009110102122.html