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Children with an Alive & Kicking ball

Tag: Street Football

Sévaré Dust Ball

Phil sniffs out a game of football across the road from Mac’s. It’s semi final night of a local youth league.

The locals respond warmly to his approach and soon the teams are using The Ball in their game. As the sun sets it is more of a case of “dustball” than football.

Sevare dust ballSevare dust ball

As usual, we expect the unusual… during the game a donkey and cart cross the field but play continues uninterrupted.

A donkey and cart cross the pitchA donkey and cart cross the pitch

With the light fading fast, play continues as the sun sets in spectacular fashion.

Play continues as the sun setsPlay continues as the sun sets
All eyes are still on The Ball as night approachesAll eyes are still on The Ball as night approaches

Footballing serendipity, Bamako-style

It has been a long day of meetings with dignitaries. We haven’t eaten all day and ready for some food and then sleep.

We get out of Kasim’s car. Phil and Kasim head for the restaurant to order dinner. Lagging behind with The Ball, Andrew sees two children on the intersection of two dusty little dirt roads. One child comes to ask for money, holding out an empty paint tin. Andrew reluctantly shakes his head. “Non”, he says. Instead, he kicks The Ball to little lad. The boy’s eyes light up. The three of them pass The Ball back and forth, inviting two more boys to join in. Soon there are ten or more kids with him, juggling with The Ball in a giant circle.

Night shot of keepie-uppie in the streetNight shot of keepie-uppie in the street

Phil and Kasim have joined them now, and there seems to be talk of a game. Indeed, goals are being marked by large jagged stones. The dangerous ditches on either side of the road define the touchlines. The child who was begging for money offers Kasim his paint tin begging bowl. Kasim, duly appointed as referee, takes it — hitting it with a stick will do perfectly for a whistle. Game on. Skins against shirts.

Andrew considers himself lucky to be a shirt. However, his DEET-impregnated, anti-malaria shirt and trousers feel much too warm. It is 9pm and 30 degrees outside. He’s sweating and coughing up a storm in this little dust-bowl of a pitch. Phil takes his place — and the goals start flowing. Shirts win 3-1.

Phil poses with some of the playersPhil poses with some of the players

This kind of playful interaction makes The Ball’s journey such a magical experience for us — it reminds us of the power that lies at the heart of the beautiful game. And for the little boy with the empty paint tin? Although we can only guess how he feels, perhaps his tin contains something more precious than money — memories of a ball which are his to keep forever.

L’Heure Joyeuse: Dancing Shantytowns

Too quickly on the road again. We’d have loved to have stayed longer in Sidi Moumen, but The Ball has an appointment to visit the Dancing Shantytowns project of the Association Marocaine L’Heure Joyeuse.

L'Heure Joyeuse muralL’Heure Joyeuse mural

There we meet Rokaya El Boudrari and the kids from the local shantytown who are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Ball. She explains to us that Dancing Shantytowns aims to provide health care programs and promote education amongst the young and poor people in Casablanca.

Rokaya El BoudrariRokaya El Boudrari

Andrew introduces The Ball to the kids, letting them know what it was about and why it was there. And then The Ball is played with in a real game of football on a street football pitch. The first proper game since Battersea Park. Being much taller than the kids, Andrew is able to score two fantastic headers, which will be talked about for some time to come. Or so he says.

One team at L'Heure JoyeuseOne team at L’Heure Joyeuse
The other team at L'Heure JoyeuseThe other team at L’Heure Joyeuse

The visit is wrapped up with the kids displaying their breakdance and freestyle skills with The Ball. We begin to understand the importance of the project to the children and the respect that they have for it. And it’s contagious because we feel that respect just as much.

Football meets breakdance and hip-hop at L'Heure JoyeuseFootball meets breakdance and hip-hop at L’Heure Joyeuse

Many thanks to all at L’Heure Joyeuse for such a warm reception and to Chris Lunch for putting us in touch.

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.