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The importance of the soccer ball

28 June 2010
Jabulani ball Photo:

Jabulani ball Photo:

Quite a lot of controversy has surrounded the Jabulani ball, designed by Adidas to be the official match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

According to regular balls are made with 32 hexagonal panels. The Teamgeist ball used in the 2006  World Cup in Germany had fourteen panels and the Jabulani ball only has eight. This makes for a very round ball.


At the  beginning of the World Cup in South Africa, Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano called the ball “supernatural”, because he thought it unpredictably changed direction when traveling through the air, according to Wikipedia.  Some goalkeepers also complained that the ball was difficult to handle. The ball was blamed when very few goals were scored at the beginning of the tournament, but after Portugal beat North Korea 7-0, Portugal’s coach Carlos Queiroz said, “We love the ball.”

There have been some great goals by strikers and some great saves by goalkeepers so far in the tournament, so it seems that problems with the ball were either exaggerated, or that players have now gotten used to the Jabulani.

Balls for all

Alive & Kicking ball Photo:

Alive & Kicking ball Photo:

While these Jabulani balls are being sold for about R1000.00 elsewhere in Africa a charity called Alive&Kicking is producing hand-stitched leather balls, so that children who have never gotten the chance to play with a real ball can finally do so.

The late founder Jim Cogan saw a man in Tanzania on the side of the road stitching a ball, stopped to talk to him and the concept was born of an organisation that would give balls to children, jobs to adults and health education to all.

Alive & Kicking employs local people to stitch soccer balls.  Health messages are printed on the balls and some of the stitchers are trained as HIV peer councilors. The charity believes every child should have the right to play. In our post on street soccer you can see the home made balls that children in Africa make to entertain themselves. Alive & Kicking wants to give each child in Africa a real ball to play with.

And there have been no complaints about the quality of these balls! The website says: “Alive & Kicking balls are hand stitched out of local leather. They are tougher than imported synthetic balls, last far longer on rough ground and therefore give children in Africa lasting fun.”

Watch a video on how the Alive & Kicking balls are made:

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