Tim Jahnigen was impressed by a documentary about children in Darfur who played soccer with pieces of trash because the soccer balls that were donated lasted only about 24 hours on the harsh terrain. He was inspired to come up with a ball that would never go flat, specifically designed for Third World children. He found a material called PopFoam that fills the bill.
Figuring out how to shape PopFoam into a sphere, though, might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and Mr. Jahnigen’s money was tied up in his other business.
Then he happened to be having breakfast with Sting, a friend from his days in the music business. Mr. Jahnigen told him how soccer helped the children in Darfur cope with their troubles and his efforts to find an indestructible ball. Sting urged Mr. Jahnigen to drop everything and make the ball. Mr. Jahnigen said that developing the ball might cost as much as $300,000. Sting said he would pay for it.
“Even on the harshest of terrain and in the worst of conditions, the ball could survive and the kids could still play,” Sting said in a public service announcement he made with Mr. Jahnigen. “I said, wow, yeah, let’s make it.”
Creating a prototype, it turned out, cost about one-tenth as much as expected and took about a year. Sting called it the One World Futbol, a homage to a song he sang with the Police, “One World (Not Three).”
(Image credit: Nicholas Hammond)