Ft. Mill, SC – September 12, 2014. Whether it’s called football or soccer, it’s known as the beautiful game around the world. And it’s people like 15-year-old, Ethan King, who add to its beauty through the charity he founded called, Charity Ball . At just 10 years old, King took his passion for soccer across the globe to Mozambique, Africa. While on a work trip with his Dad, King took his soccer ball with the hopes of a spontaneous pickup game and ended up gifting his ball to some local children.
King immediately saw how this simple gesture positively impacted the lives of the kids he met and Charity Ball was born. In just five years King has spearheaded an effort that’s hand-delivered over 4,500 new soccer balls to kids in 22 developing countries. And now, with the help of Continental Tire, King has an additional 1,000 balls to deliver. Continental Tire, the official tire of Major League Soccer (MLS), US Soccer and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, has donated 1,000 adidas soccer balls for King to distribute.
“What Ethan has done in five short years is amazing,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. “Taking his passion for the game of soccer and turning that into a successful cause marketing campaign at just 10-years-old, is commendable. We’re proud to support Ethan and Charity Ball and hope that others will do the same.”
The 1,000 balls donated by Continental Tire will help King reach his dream of providing a new soccer ball to every child around the world who loves the game. King has positively impacted thousands of lives already. In fact, since starting the charity, King has received reports of crime rates dropping, communities uniting, and girls finally able to play the game of soccer. King has also partnered with Neven Subotic (German team Borussia Dortmund member) and the duo documented a trip to rural Mozambique in an 8-minute documentary short called, “Pass The Ball”.
We did a Q&A with King to hear his story in his own voice. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How did you become interested in playing soccer? What level do you play
A: In 2007 my family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. I soon joined a local youth team and fell in love with the sport. Also, playing the video game FIFA on Playstation, after soccer practice, helped me understand tactics and strengthened my understanding of the game. I currently play for a club team called Lakeshore Premier SC in Grand Haven, MI. We compete in the MSPSL league and play the best teams from all over the state. I also play on the Michigan ODP state team. Just this past summer our team went to the regional competition, won the showcase, and now this upcoming February, our team will be headed to Phoenix, Arizona for Nationals.
Q: What inspired you to start Charity Ball?
A: In the summer of 2009, I went to northern Mozambique (Africa) with my Dad to help repair water wells in local villages. I took my soccer ball along thinking I might be able to get a pickup game going with the local kids. When we arrived at the village of Ntette, I threw out my ball and in a matter of seconds, 50 kids were playing. It was awesome! Many of those kids had never had the opportunity to enjoy playing soccer with a real ball. I saw that the balls they had previously been using were basically just trash bags wrapped up with twine. As I watched the kids play, it was hard for me to think that I would be heading back to the States where I had several soccer balls in my garage just sitting there. These kids in this village had none. I thought to myself, these kids would enjoy this soccer ball far more than me. So, I walked over and presented my ball as a gift. After coming back to the states after the trip, I kept replaying that scene in my mind and decided I wanted to do more and keep giving new, quality soccer balls to kids in need of them.
Q: How many soccer balls have you delivered and to how many countries?
A: Over the past four years close to 4500 soccer balls have been hand delivered to kids in 24 different countries around the world. We also have an upcoming delivery of 500 soccer balls for kids down in Brazil as well.
Q: How do you identify recipients of the balls and why is it important
that you hand deliver each and every ball?
A: Our criteria for Charity Ball requires all kids who qualify for receiving a soccer ball to already be living in an area, or a situation, where a quality soccer ball is not accessible or they don't have the means or money to purchase one. Our couriers who hand-deliver the soccer balls around the world help us identify whether the kids meet the criteria and are eligible to receive a Charity Ball. It is very important that the balls are hand delivered because then we don't run the risk of losing balls to customs or they don't get lost in shipping. But, it's more than that. When we hand-deliver soccer balls, we present them as a gift to kids and tell them it belongs to them. It makes it personal and meaningful to the kids.
Q: What's your ultimate goal with Charity Ball?
A: The ultimate goal is to get every kid around the world who loves the game of soccer, their very own new, quality soccer ball.
Q: What does it mean to have the support of sponsors like Continental Tire
and individual contributions?
A: It's fantastic. We recognize that without the help and support of individuals and sponsors like Continental Tire, none of this would be possible. We appreciate those especially, who are willing to get behind the cause and help contribute to making a difference in this world. To have big companies like Continental Tire get behind us and support what we're doing is a huge statement, and it would be amazing if others would follow suit.
Interested in giving a soccer ball yourself? Find out more about Charity Ball and learn how to donate at www.charityball.org .
Send us your pics and tell us about your soccer fan experience @continentaltire, #SoccerLove.
Continental Tire the Americas
Based in Fort Mill, S.C., Continental Tire the Americas, LLC manufactures and distributes a complete premium line of passenger, light truck and commercial tires for original equipment and replacement markets. Our ultra-high, performance tires include award-winning technologies that focus on safety, help save money, and reduce CO2 emissions. Continental’s premium products are available at leading independent tire dealers, car dealers, and mass retail companies across North America. Continental Tire is a proud supporter of IMSA, Major League Soccer (MLS), West Coast Customs, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, and Petty’s Garage.
With sales of around €33.3 billion in 2013, Continental is one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers. As a provider of tires, brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently employs around 182,000 people in 49 countries.
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Continental Tires the Americas
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