Helping Children: Soccer Equipment in Ghana

Spring 2010 InGear

Recipients of soccer equipment from the Westchester NY Cycle Club

Recipients of soccer equipment from the Westchester NY Cycle Club

In the United States, it’s a common sight to see kids in schoolyards and backyards, on the beach or on the street, get together to play a casual game of football or just to toss the pigskin around. The same is true all over the world, except in most places the ball in play belongs to the other football—soccer. The boys and girls of Okurase, in Ghana, are no different than so many around the world; they use sports to compete, make friends, and lose themselves in happy play. It’s good for health and socialization. Often, however, children in underdeveloped countries lack the resources for actual soccer equipment, so they improvise. Stones are wrapped around with duct tape, sandals substitute for athletic shoes, cardboard boxes stand in for nets. The children damage their feet and legs playing a game they love with inadequate gear. Again, unfortunately, Okurase is no different.

Last year, the students and faculty of South Brunswick (NJ) High School and the Westchester (NY) Cycle Club collected a large amount of soccer equipment that, combined with other small donations, added up to forty soccer balls and eighty-six pairs of cleats, which we placed in the second shipment to Ghana last year.

As a general rule, Pedals for Progress does not ship a great deal of sporting goods for the children in towns where we distribute bicycles. In the past, we’ve often had problems with foreign customs, so many of our overseas partners requested that we no longer include them in our shipments, even though the equipment is deeply coveted. So we now collect only a little bit every year. The inclusion of sporting goods does not meet P4P’s mission goal of economic development, but in small amounts, for the smiles on children’s faces, it is one of the best goodwill gestures. Poverty is especially difficult on children during their formative years and we believe that sports can lead to a more peaceful society.

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