A soccer ball is, as defined by the Princeton Online Dictionary an inflated ball used to play the sport of soccer. But going just a little beyond any conventional definitions, a soccer ball is much more than just a spherical plastic object that gets kicked around in a play field, a soccer ball is the icon that represents a passion , capable enough to undo borders, unite the world and influence the development of a nation.
I am not here today to talk about sports or to try to convince you to support a team; I am here to talk to you about the importance of one of the biggest social movement s in the world called the beautiful game of soccer and its icon: the soccer ball.You might have come across dedicated stores to soccer such as this is american soccer.
Has anyone in this classroom ever had a passion for something, a passion so big that was stronger than any reason or any fact, maybe some of us have not had the opportunity yet or maybe for some, being passionate about life itself its just the way they live every day of their lives.
I have a good idea about what soccer is and I understand it fairly well mainly because I grew up playing the game, I played in school, I have played in local and state tournaments; I have closely followed the last World Cups, I have trained junior soccer teams and now that I don’t have a lot of time to play, I watch every game that I can. So it is at times obsessive but it is also compelling, and what happens to me also happen to many people and it also happens to entire nations that put their lives on hold when their team is playing.
The game of soccer has been present in the development of human history for the last two hundred years; it started as an organized game in the late 1800s in England and since then, it has evolved from a simple local game to a world wide phenomenon. Nowadays, out of the 245 countries or political states in the world, a little over 200 are affiliated to FIFA, the international governing agency of football soccer.
Now that we have an idea where did it come from, let’s look into the relevance of the game and the social impact that it represents. According to FIFA.com, the final match of Italy vs. France, of the 2006 World Cup had a global cumulative audience of over 715 million viewers and I’ll say it again, 715 million people, either in-home or out-of-home were watching a two hour soccer match. Every weekend, there are hundreds of soccer games all over the world and people in places like Brazil, Argentina and all South America, people follow these games as faithfully as they follow their religious beliefs.
This is one of the reasons why some governments and groups in the private sector have used this devotion to the game to their advantages by using players, air time and entire teams in some cases, to convey messages of social awareness and initiatives, such as the movement against violence in third world countries, when all the players in the most important leagues in South America wore white ribbons symbolizing peace and all the people who came to the game was encouraged to dress white clothes to united take a stand against violence and insecurity; the breast cancer prevention movement in Mexico, in which every game of the league was played with pink soccer ball as a reminder to every viewer of the potential risks of breast cancer and the advantages of early detection, and the UNICEF funding initiative, promoted by Barcelona of Spain, one of the five best teams of the world, conveying the importance of world wide institutions dedicated to help children in need.
These are just a few examples of how, the most practiced game in the world has gradually turned into a social movement, it is a game of passion in which players run with their legs but they play with their hearts, and it is now used to convey the initiative of peace, disease prevention and altruism.
From now on, when you look at a soccer ball, try hard not to see it as a mere object, but as an icon that represents a passion, capable enough to undo borders, unite the world and influence the development of a nation.