It begins with a place to play.
Few people know love.fútbol began in Morocco. That's a soccer passionate country – though, as we know, there are many. At the right hour, it would seem children play on every street corner. However, it was in one narrow alley-way, in a town off the map – near Cascades d'Ouzoud, if you know it – where love.fútbol actually came about. It was a 4 on 4 pickup game, with the most senior player no older than 10. In a small opening of the alley, roughly 8 feet wide by 25 feet long, was their pitch. Running lengthwise from top to bottom of their space and splitting their two rock goal posts at either end was a canal about a foot wide and deep, and with hard cement corners. It was a simple example of an unsafe place where kids play.
The children jumped back and forth effortlessly over the gap, and without looking. Their cracked plastic ball still rolled relatively true over the cobblestone – chipping it back and forth over as they played. Clearly, they'd grown up there. The canal was inherent to their game. Youth determination and innovation to play was always something quite beautiful to me. I'd been fortunate to grow up around all types of makeshift soccer in many other parts of the world – trees or tires as goals, crooked spaces, slanted fields, irregular, imperfect, but still somehow, quite fine places to play this simple game. However, there was something striking about this scene in the alley. It was beyond what I respected as the imperfect beauty of soccer at the grassroots level. And that’s when it all came together for me. This is the world’s game. The game they love. The game I love. Kids need a safe place to play.
To this day, I’ve never quite found the word that describes what soccer means to me. But children throughout the world need the power of the game much more than I do. Think about what matters to you - what makes you happy, what injects life into you day to day. It was soccer for me and it is soccer for them.
I hope you’ll help us make this small difference in the world.