Yesterday, however, the New York Times did a video essay called, "Pass It On," about a man crafting a soccer ball from the bags he finds lying around (you can watch it by clicking the link). Jerome Thelia, the videographer wrote,
As soon as I saw a photograph of an African soccer ball, stitched together from old rags in the geometric patterns so familiar to us, I wanted to tell its story.The young men I worked with for my research in Syracuse reported similar stories of the soccer games played in refugee camps in Guinea, Kakuma, Egypt, and Dadaab. The sport, they stated, was a great past time for them and the young men gathered daily to show their prowess as athletes and game players. The story told by Thelia here, though, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and shows the craft of the game maker who devoted his time to give the young people an opportunity to play. The universality of sport is ubiquitous in how he captures the young boys kicking the ball made just for them.
Reflecting on my workshop at the Louisiana Young Adult Literature conference an attendance in Alan Brown's Sports Literacy seminar, I couldn't help but make a global connection about athleticism, literacy, dedication, refugees, and the drive to be athletic and on a team. The short documentary brings to life the images that were vividly described by the eight young men who participated in my research.
We in the United States take Little League, Pop Warner, and soccer clubs for granted. Young people around the world deserve similar opportunities to game and, for this reason, I'm reflecting proudly on my cousin's work in South Africa through Hoops4Hope. We live in a culture of excess that children around the world may never know. For this reason, today's post is important.
Give children space and they will find creative ways to play, even when they don't have the same advantages of young people who live in our nation. I will forever be in support of the underdog. Whenever a team or player monopolizes the game I lose interest. Sports provide dreams. They are a literacy, indeed.