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Children with an Alive & Kicking ball
The Ball at the mud mosque in Djenne

How did Africa gear up for its first World Cup? Where was the first game in Africa? How do Special Olympics work with football in Africa? How did people react to The Ball as it passed through their country? Find out here.

The Ball 2010 started on 24th Jan 2014 and travelled from England to the World Cup in South Africa. Made by Alive & Kicking, it was a durable, repairable football made especially for rough playing surfaces in Africa.

Follow its journey here

The Route

Click the pins on the map to see blog posts from that location.

“It’s one of the longest games of keepy–uppy the world has seen.”
— Claire Heald, BBC

The Quick-Start Guide

The Ball 2010’s journey to South Africa was a celebration of the excitement and benefit that football brings to the myriad communities that it encountered on the way to the world’s greatest sporting event.

On its epic journey to the World Cup from London, it was played with in organized games of football, in impromptu kick–abouts and in freestyle sessions. From street to stadium, anyone and everyone engaged with The Ball, signed it, kicked it and helped it along its way.

The Ball 2010 was the centrepiece to many events organised by our partners Special Olympics in cities and stadiums throughout Africa. These events included music, dance, freestyle — and games of football to Unified Sport™ rules where teams feature athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.

Everyone was invited to play.

You helped us make a difference!

The Ball is a favourite with children

On every journey to the World Cup, many thousands of ordinary people make direct contact with The Ball, whether by chance in the street or by attending events, playing with it, signing it and helping it along its way. The Ball brings the World Cup closer to people who wouldn’t otherwise experience it first hand. At the same time, The Ball introduces its audience to the great work that its partners are doing — and shows them the vibrant cultures of the places it visits.

All this helped The Ball 2010 extend the impact of the World Cup from the host country to the wider region and the African continent itself. We still need your support to make a lasting difference.

There are two ways you can make a difference…

Donate to The Ball!

The Ball is run by Spirit of Football CIC, an independent, fan-led, Community Interest Company registered in the UK. Of course we’d prefer to sell you stuff, but for now all we have to sell is the journey and its legacy. We ask your support to make The Ball the very best it can be — both for your reading and viewing pleasure and for the worthwhile organisations who stand to benefit from it. Please use the donate button at the top of the page.

Donate a ball — or three!

Through The Ball 2010, you helped Alive & Kicking reach their goal of donating 100,000 balls to children across sub–Saharan Africa by the start of the 2010 World Cup. As part of this campaign, Alive & Kicking footballs donated by you were transported by DHL to Special Olympics programmes in the African countries that The Ball 2010 visited. Donate to Alive & Kicking through their donations page.

A message of support from German international Clemens Fritz

Clemens Fritz in action for Germany

“Die Reise ist eine tolle Idee, Menschen durch die Liebe zum Fußball zusammen zu bringen. Ich kenne das aus meiner Bremer Mannschaft – der Fußball verbindet. Da ist es völlig egal, wo man herkommt, welcher Religion man angehört oder welchen Charakter man hat. Ich wünsche Andrew und seinem Team viel Erfolg und unvergessliche Erlebnisse auf seiner Tour in Richtung Südafrika.”
— Clemens Fritz

Andrew translates this as:

“The trip is a fantastic idea to bring people together through their common love of football. I know that from my team at Werder Bremen – football connects people. Because it does not matter where you come from, what religion you belong to or whatever temperament you have. I wish the Spirit of Football team every success and unforgettable experiences on this tour to South Africa.”

The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.