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Ori Eisen: Founder of Ball to All

Ori founded Ball to All with one motivation in mind: every kid deserves a soccer ball. Ball to All sends soccer balls to all corners of the world to give all children the opportunity to play. Ball to All’s ambassadors work on the ground to share the nonprofit’s mission and distribute soccer balls to kids in need. Thanks to Ori’s incredible work, Ball to All sends soccer balls to kids in China, Ghana, India, Italy, Israel, Bangladesh, Iraq, and everywhere in between.

How do sports and world peace work together?

As the famous saying goes, “idle hands are the devil’s work.” Kids that are between the ages of 5 and 15 are very impressionable. They are most likely to get involved in criminal behavior during these years because extremists can sway them to start using weapons and participate in crime. However, a kid won’t listen to an extremist if they’re busy playing with a soccer ball. If we think about human rights, we think of things that sustain us like food, water, shelter, and clothing. Although these things are necessary, it’s also important to make sure kids are not bored. Giving a kid a soccer ball should be a human right, otherwise we are allowing them to be influenced by terrible things. If we want a world without terrorists, we have to expose kids to the joy of playing. When we rescued a kid from ISIS and brought them to a refugee camp in Iraq, they smiled for the first time in years when given a soccer ball. It’s our duty to give children as normal of a childhood as possible, and that includes play. How can we ever achieve something as important as world peace when there’s kids in the world who don’t even have access to a soccer ball? We have to think of them.

Why did you decide to start Ball to All?

I wanted to give back somehow and try to do my part to make the world a better place. I had an employee who was from Kenya, and every year he would return to visit his family. Six years ago, I brought my children with me to buy five soccer balls to give to my employee for him to bring to Kenya. The employee told me that he went through his entire childhood in Kenya without ever having seen a real soccer ball, so he decided to donate the balls to his local elementary school. The elementary school stopped teaching for the day so the kids could experience playing with a real soccer ball— all they had used before was trash or random objects they could find. When I saw the faces of those kids in the photos my employee took, I knew this was what I had to do. Now we operate in 80 countries around the world and give kids the opportunity to escape boredom and experience play.

How does having access to a ball affect children’s lives?

As an example, one of our ambassadors in Colombia found a group of kids who were hanging around and gave them all soccer balls to play with. Random acts of kindness don’t happen everyday there, so the kids were surprised. About three weeks later, we received an envelope with a letter that was written by a translator from one of those kids’ mothers. The letter said, “We don’t know who you are or why you decided to give a soccer ball to our kids. This is the first time that my kids come home without talking about drugs, violence, or gangs. They are just playing and having fun!” Those few soccer balls were able to change their lives. More than anything, I want people to understand that little things can be so important. For just $10, you can magically turn a neighborhood around by providing a soccer ball. It’s my hope that when these kids grow up, they want to pay it forward for the next generation.

What is the best part of your job?

Every Saturday, I get to work on Ball to All volunteering. It’s always exciting for me to read through all of the emails with new stories about how our work is impacting lives. Reading the stories from our ambassadors proves to me that we really are making a change. It’s so important for people to understand that giving a soccer ball to a kid can create drastic change in their lives. Once you learn that, it’s impossible not to want to help and it creates its own goodness virtue cycle. The best part of this job is being able to share that story and teach others the importance of helping, no matter how small the action may seem.


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