It begins with a place to play.
The story of love.fútbol began in Morocco. That's a football passionate country – though, as we know, there are many. At the right hour, it would seem children ran kicking on every street corner. However, it was in one narrow alleyway, 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 3 by 8 meters, was their pitch. Running lengthwise from top to bottom and splitting their two rock goal posts at either end was a canal about a foot wide and deep, and with hard cement corners.
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. They'd grown up there. The canal was part of the 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 and tires as goals, crooked spaces, slanted pitches, irregular, imperfect, but still somehow quite fine venues for this game.
Our logo tries to capture that idea. You don’t need a perfect soccer field for a soccer field to serve perfectly.
However, this moment in Morocco was different from those I’d seen in the past. These kids ran back and forth hard over this gap and the inevitable slip, trip and fall could be harsh. This crossed a line beyond what I respected as the imperfect beauty of soccer on the grassroots level.
Over a decade later I've seen much worse. Children play barefoot in trash dumps, over glass, metal shards and rocky land every day. They dash between speeding 18-wheelers across the eight-lane N2 Highway outside the Khayelitsha Township in Capetown, South Africa, and then hundreds of them play for miles along the highway median. In Zacapa, Guatemala, they play clandestine soccer on prohibited land owned by drug traffickers when there is enough moonlight.
Maicon and Michel Bastos, two stars of Brazil’s 2010 World Cup National Team, each had a brother hit and killed by a car while playing soccer in the streets as a child.
The Beautiful Game is one of the most fundamental and universal opportunities for self-expression, health, hope and joy for our world’s youth.