World Cup Soccer has started and some children will dream of one day playing in the championships. Did you notice that key word: PLAY? Whether it’s FIFA, the Olympics, the Stanley Cup or another great event and competition, the roots of Sport are PLAY.
There will be some exciting soccer matches as these teams from around the world compete. The journey to being a soccer PLAYer at this level has undoubtedly been long and hard, but it began with a child playing and kicking a ball. Perhaps, parents would kick the ball with the child or maybe brothers or sisters or friends. Likely, a child with such deep motivation probably spent hours kicking the ball against walls and fences. But for that future soccer star, the start was play and fun.
Play is so essential to children’s early learning and development that the United Nations High Commission has enshrined the right to play as one of the Universal Rights of the Child. Play is how children figure out and explore the world. In countries where kids do not have soccer balls, they play with rocks, cans, old shoes, plastic bottles, and bags stuffed with garbage. Noticing a group of children playing with one of these bags inspired Tim Jahnigen. He saw the need for kids to have access to balls and for these balls to be good and sturdy. Specially designed, these One World Futbols are nearly indestructible and since 2010, more than 1.5 million of these balls have impacted the lives of children around the world. In the words of Lisa Tarver, cofounder of One World Futbol, “We really can’t underestimate the power of play.”
In the spirit of World Cup Soccer, for a play-of-the-day, find a ball that your child can play with. Sponge balls or beach balls are often easier for little hands and feet. Kids can hit, kick, throw, and catch and balls can be any size. Who knows what such play might kickstart?