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5,000 'ultra-durable' footballs to be distributed in underprivileged areas

By Muath Freij - Dec 16,2014 - Last updated at Dec 16,2014

AMMAN — A total of 5,000 ultra-durable footballs will be distributed to 50 schools in underprivileged areas around the Kingdom to provide students with the opportunity to play their favourite sport.

The initiative, launched by the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and One World Play Project (OWPP) together with its partner Chevrolet, was first introduced during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, according to Stephen Sonderman, OWPP's Asia director.

"Our point is to create a ball that is nearly indestructible so that when kids go to school, they know that they have a ball," Sonderman told The Jordan Times on Monday at a ceremony to celebrate the distribution of the footballs in Jordan.

The balls do not need a pump and never go flat — even when punctured, making them "ideal" for use in environments such as rural areas, refugee camps, conflict zones and other landscapes where a traditional inflated ball doesn’t last, according to an AFDP statement.

The football was tested during a training match organised at the Prince Hamzah Hall in Amman for 11 year olds.

Chevrolet brand ambassador and former Real Madrid player Michel Salgado supervised the training and joined the children in the game.

Sonderman said the initiative's organisers have delivered 1.2 million of these balls throughout the world.

"In this region, the balls will be first delivered in Jordan and there will be many deliveries elsewhere."

He added that a total of 19,000 balls will be distributed in the region through the Jordan Football Association (JFA).

Its distribution plan "includes Lebanon, Palestine and Syrian camps in Jordan. We also want to get the balls into difficult areas such as Syria, Iraq or Lebanon," Sonderman said.

The JFA will distribute the balls to clubs, youth academies and local community centres in underprivileged areas, as well as schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Ahmad Masha, of JFA, told reporters.

AFDP board member Hassan Bin Zeid said such initiatives can bring hope to these children.

Salgado echoed his sentiments, noting that football is a way for children to look ahead despite difficult circumstances. 

"Children in general who face difficult situations can find their way out through football," he told The Jordan Times during the training.

For the children who played football with the Spanish footballer, the experience was "brilliant". 

Ayham Faouri said he has been an avid footballer since the age of five.

"I liked playing with Salgado in person after watching him on TV," the Real Madrid fan told The Jordan Times. 

Osama Mohammad said the durable football will help children save money, because they will not need to buy a new ball to replace it.

Ibaa Issa said she enjoys playing football because it is an entertaining sport.

"I take after my father, who likes football, which is not just for boys; girls also can play it," she added. 

Sonderman said Jordan has been leading the way in the region for women's football.  

"I was so pleased that the women's team are doing so well. It is extremely important for girls to have the opportunity to play as they do. To have girls interact with each other in sports is a great development." 

The donors are also scheduled to visit a number of schools in Pella village in northwestern Jordan and host training sessions for boys and girls on Tuesday.

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