EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon Women's Soccer Team is making a difference in the world, one goal and soccer ball at a time. For every goal the team scores this 2012 season the parents of the student-athletes, as a group, will donate one virtually indestructible soccer ball, through the One World Futbol Project, to needy areas around the world. For every goal scored, a conflict zone, disaster area, refugee camp, or disadvantaged community someplace in the world will receive a ball.

Debi Smith, mother of one of the players on the team, conceived of this idea after she read an article, The Soccer Ball That Never Needs Air, in the August 2012 issue of Outside Magazine. The article profiled Tim Jahnigen and his idea to do something to make a difference in the world, an idea which occurred to him after sitting jetlagged on his couch watching news footage of kids in Darfur playing soccer using a ball made of trash rolled up with twine. Jahnigen isn't a soccer player, but he loves sports and believes in the value of play and its ability to aid in healing, growth, and creativity. Knowing that soccer, or more commonly known worldwide as football or futbol, is the world's favorite sport, he wondered if a ball could be created that wouldn't need a needle or pump (things in short supply in the areas he envisioned the ball being distributed), that would never go flat, and that would be virtually indestructible. Working with designers, and the support and backing of the musical artist Sting, the One World Futbol Project was born, and just such a ball has been created and is now being distributed worldwide.


Jahnigen says in the Outside Magazine interview, "Yes, we are just talking about a ball—something kids play with and something we may take for granted—but this ball is not about being a ball. It's a tool. A tool to build stable communities, heal deep trauma from war, slavery and disaster. Smarter people than us have not yet figured out world peace and world hunger, but it's possible that a child who we give a ball to will."


The entire University of Oregon Women's Soccer Team--including parents, players, coaches, and supporting staff--concur. Smith says, "There has been an incredible and heartening amount of support from everyone involved for this project here at the University of Oregon. We'd like to challenge every college team to consider taking up a similar cause, be it the One World Futbol Project, or some other worthy cause."


For more information on the One World Futbol Project please go to: www.oneworldfutbol.com. And if you are interested in joining in a Pac-12 competition to see which team and/or school can donate the most balls over the course of the 2012-2013 school year please email Debi Smith at debi@mind.net.