Building a Better Soccer Ball

Better in terms of durability.

Joy That Lasts, on the Poorest of Playgrounds

The children, he learned, used trash because the balls donated by relief agencies and sporting goods companies quickly ripped or deflated on the rocky dirt that doubled as soccer fields. Kicking a ball around provided such joy in otherwise stressful and trying conditions that the children would play with practically anything that approximated a ball.

“The only thing that sustained these kids is play,” said Mr. Jahnigen of Berkeley, Calif. “Yet the millions of balls that are donated go flat within 24 hours.”

The solution was a foam similar to what is used in Crocs.

[H]e happened to be having breakfast with Sting, a friend from his days in the music business. Mr. Jahnigen told him how soccer helped the children in Darfur cope with their troubles and his efforts to find an indestructible ball. Sting urged Mr. Jahnigen to drop everything and make the ball. Mr. Jahnigen said that developing the ball might cost as much as $300,000. Sting said he would pay for it.

An interesting logistical issue is also brought up: the balls are more difficult to ship than traditional balls, because they can’t be deflated (the reverse of a certain balloon issue I’ve run into)

If you are so inclined, you can go to the website and buy a ball for about $40, in which case one will also be donated, or you can donate one for $25.

One thought on “Building a Better Soccer Ball

  1. Rake the fields then sell the stones as aggregate.

    Molding polyurethane foam is not a black art, it’s upholstery. Bulk ship the two parts then mold on site (static mixer injector). Rotomold an impervious skin then inject a foamed filling Polyurethane lining in abrasive tumblers protects the metal. Polyurea truck bed lining protects cement block walls from high explosive (Mythbusters 2011 Season Episode 19, Episode 176 overall). Toss in some fiber to prevent surface damage from propagating (re Space Scuttle external insulation fragmentation during launch. NASA said “this is not the solution we are seeking.”).

    Shouldn’t the balls be fabricated from all natural, renewable resource, soybean-based recyclables? Quadruple the price, demand intensive extensive studies, reduce available food, and interminably delay while tracking down unknown hazards. Wait for it, wait for it… elastomeric polyurethanes use mercury, bismuith, and tin soap catalysts. Surfactants, too. Save Our Children!

    Civilization can be ended – but only if you care.

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