pic of Mark

by Mark 2nd Feb 2019

A ball is every kid’s best friend

two kids passing a rugby ball on a lawn with the glare of the sun in the background

We believe in the power of playing with balls.

From birth through to my teens, you would find me with a ball, of some sort, by my side or under my arm.

In fact, as I write, I am surrounded by balls, so nothing changes. My earliest memories are associated with balls; the rubbery smell, the feel of leather, the shock of adrenaline as your ball hits the back of the net.

As a teenager, my life revolved around these innocuous objects and feelings; sports balls of all shapes and sizes which are central to so many games and give so many, so much pleasure.

In adulthood I have built a career from my love of balls. My friends and most of my opportunities to travel have come about through playing with a ball. I suppose you might say they are part of who i am, and who i think we are.

In January 2016 I had the unique privilege of leading Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s Rugby in Africa Expedition. The Bhubesi Pride Foundation works with children in need throughout Africa. The foundation uses sports as a tool to teach, develop and build relationships in deprived communities. In my role as Project Manager, I worked in 9 countries across the continent. The tour was one of the highlights of my life. The journey provided me with a vantage point from which I was able to reflect on the many ways in which the childhoods of children in Africa differed from mine, but also the many ways in which we are similar too. The joy I felt when others shared my love of the simple delights of playing with a ball was palpable. Sports unite people regardless of their background, or language even! The smiles on the children's faces as they played Rugby on dusty fields was no different than mine had been when playing on the village green at home.

Of the shared joy was the equal disappointment when your ball inevitably breaks and the game has to end. Children trudge back into their homes, the ball lies lost, unusable and unloved. Something, once the epicenter of fun and laughter, so precious that I wouldn't go to sleep without it tucked under my arm, is now abandoned. Like my friend Gilbert (Rugby Ball, which i found under a bush at the bottom of my mum and dads garden, some 30 years later).

Old Balls doesn’t believe in abandoning or throwing away old balls any more than it believes in abandoning children who have never known the love of the game. Our organization takes old balls and recycles/upcycles them, giving them a new lease of life, either as a ball or as one of unique products. By selling such products we raise money to buy new balls and send them to the kids who really need them. We are adding to the great work of the Bhubesi Pride Foundation and many others, by giving both the balls and kids in local communities a second lease of life.

If my childhood memories stir up similar memories of playing with a ball. If you too have experienced the simple, sweet pleasure that balls and sports bring, and if you want to make sure more children have a chance to create similar memories of their own then, we would love to hear from you.

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