The Power of Play

Posted by Jeremy Affeldt on 10/19/12

Jeremy Affeldt #41 of the San Francisco Giants, poses during a portrait session on June 1, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/MLBPA via Getty Images) *Permission of use from Jeremy Affeldt/Generation Alive, 2012.

In 2011-12, the One World Futbol Project teamed up with Generation Alive, founded by San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and his wife Larisa Affeldt, to raise donations of One World Futbols for disadvantaged youth in Southern Ethiopia. Generation Alive also incorporated the One World Futbol into education and fundraising programs conducted with youth in and around the Spokane, Washington area.

Generation Alive is a movement of young people responding to the needs of other young people wherever, whenever, however. The organization’s primary mission is to see the lives of young people changed by engaging them in acts of service that promote justice and alleviate the pain of poverty in their generation.

Jeremy’s passion comes from his Christian faith, and he believes to live out his faith means to help those who can’t live out their dreams, those who simply live to survive another day due to poverty. A high-octane philanthropist,  Jeremy frequently blogs on Christian discipleship and tweets daily about global action to help the poor.

The Power of Play

Jeremy Affeldt, Guest Blogger

Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst…the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14

I think Jesus Himself would work to distribute One World Futbóls to kids living in poverty. Why do I think that? Jesus taught the concept of sustainability. He promised water that could quench your thirst forever, just like an indestructible soccer ball. Give a kid a One World Futból, and that kid will never again thirst for a toy to play with.

When you visit a refugee camp, you notice the obvious things, like they can’t afford toys. So you see kids wrap trash bags up into a ball and kick it around. That’s all they have.

Imagine giving children something better than a trash bag to play with. Imagine being the first person to introduce them to a One World Futból. You wouldn’t have to explain it to them. You could just show it to them. Imagine it! You bring them a ball, and you kick it into the barbed wire fence surrounding their camp. You take a knife and slash it right in front of them. They’ll expect it to pop, but it holds its form. They can still play with it! They will be so excited, you know?

And the amazement on their faces, man, it just feels so good! You and I see this soccer ball and we say, “Oh, that’s so cool!” But for these kids, it’s a mind-boggling gift. They feel so much joy and so much peace because someone cared enough to give them a ball that will never pop. Playing with a One World Futból allows these kids to feel love that is Jesus-centered.

I think all dreams start when you’re small. But a lot of kids have been trafficked. They’ve been enslaved, and they’ve suffered hunger, or been sick from dirty water. So many kids in this world are living lives that are distorted by worry and fear. Their dreams have been killed, or they’ve been emotionally destroyed by slavery. Play can reestablish their creativity.

Giving a soccer ball to kids in poorer areas helps them play. It gets their minds ticking. It gets their competitive juices flowing. They learn to have fun again. They start to dream again. They dream of the amazing things they’ll do someday. Joy returns, and with it, hope returns. Play puts these kids on their way to drinking the water that Jesus promised.

I want to give kids the ability to dream. I want to restore what was taken from them. I’m trying to help them feel the joy that I feel when I play! There are so many opportunities for us to reflect the love of Jesus by creating joy in the world. And when you do it, and you know that you’ve done it, man, that’s just an awesome feeling. It will fulfill you.