We love soccer. We love social change.
We have dedicated most of our professional lives to the sport for development field, using soccer as a tool to empower others. We have been fortunate to travel the world, playing soccer in the interesting places in the world. As soccer players, the coolest thing we collect from these places are handmade soccer balls, or "ragballs." We have seen ragballs made from banana leaves, coffee bags, tshirts, and even condoms! No two ragballs are exactly alike. Jeffstill tells a story about how traded a new Nike soccer ball for a his first ragball, made ball made by 12 year-old Boniface Mumba. Both Jeff and Boniface walked away thinking they had seriously swindled the other. For us, there is no better way to capture the culture of a community than through a ragball.
In early 2009, we were working on a soccer-based, youth HIV prevention program in Khayelitsha, a township outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is over 60% in Khayelitsha, so when the development programmes end, it can take months for people to find new sources of income. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities for young people to succeed in the township, we brainstormed possible income generation projects. While juggling a ragball, we realized the solution was right at our feet. And on that day, Ragball International was born.
-Jeff DeCelles, Sean Hinkle, Ian Oliver