Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, 2016
Welcome to week two hundred of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Soccer Star Messi to Meet Afghan Boy Who Wore Plastic Bag Jersey
- A passion for soccer helps unite one of the world’s most diverse countries
- SquashBusters is a little bit about squash and a lot about changing the lives of urban teenagers
- Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad Qualifies For Olympics, Will Become First U.S. Athlete to Compete In a Hijab
- Meet the 5 friends who have attended every single Super Bowl
- Red Sox ace David Price donates $300K for Miracle Field project in hometown
- Brooklyn College Games Seem Like Family Outings (Because They Are)
- DOSB President joins German Chancellor to present Star of Sports award
- Lacrosse players mix sport with good deeds in Jamaica
- It’s All About Timing: From Ivy League Student to Professional Soccer Player to Budding Entrepreneur
600 million ways we can change the world
Football v Homophobia month of action kicks-off backed Premier League clubs
Super coaching: Former NFL cornerback on impacting young lives
Sport for Peace and Unity in South Sudan
Today is Super Bowl Sunday, also known as “America’s Unofficial National Holiday.” While we sometimes overeat on these unofficial and official holidays, the truly great attraction of these days is the opportunity they give us to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Sport has a special ability in that regard. Everything from the championship game for a particular sport to just a regular season game for one’s alma mater can be occasion to put on apparel announcing your loyalty and regale in great stories from the past and discussion of the potential of one’s team.
One of the stories that we feature this week involves a group of friends who have taken coming together over sports to another level. The “Super Bowl Five” will today make it 50 for 50 when it comes to attending the Super Bowl. This amazing feat is partly the allure of the “Big Game” but clearly driven by the great friendship that these guys share. As they say in the article, “Nothing is forever. We all understand that. But we’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to say this is 50 years. We’re devoted to each other, and we’re devoted to the Super Bowl.” We should all seek out opportunities in our lives to celebrate such friendship and loyalty. Fortunately, sports gives us a lot of those opportunities.
We are excited by the collection of stories we are presenting this week. They include: a young boy whose fandom for the world’s best football player, Lionel Messi, is going to be rewarded with a future meeting with the star; a writer’s first-hand account of the love for which the people of Brazil have for the “beautiful game”; the growth of a great non-profit, SquashBusters, that is having a wonderfully positive impact on kids in the Boston area; Rio 2016 qualifier Ibtihaj Muhammad from the U.S. who continues to blaze trails for herself and others; new Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price who made a significant donation in his hometown to help build a park with special adaptive features for young kids with special needs; the family feel around the men’s basketball program at Brooklyn College; a special recognition for humanitarian efforts for German football club VfL Bad Wildungen; the experience of a student-athlete with the non-profit Fields of Growth in educating kids about the great sport of lacrosse; and budding professional soccer player and entrepreneur Cameron Porter of the MLS’s Montreal Impact.
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Soccer Star Messi to Meet Afghan Boy Who Wore Plastic Bag Jersey
Barcelona star Lionel Messi will meet an Afghan boy who gained Internet fame after a touching series of photographs went viral, showing him playing in a shirt improvised from a plastic bag and bearing the name and playing number of his hero. Five year-old Murtaza, from a poor family in the Jaghori district in the central province of Ghazni, became an unlikely Internet sensation after the pictures were shared on Facebook and other social media sites. Unable to get a real Messi shirt, Murtaza’s brother had rigged him up a plastic bag in the light blue and white colors of the Argentinian national team, with “Messi” and the number “10″ written on it in marker pen. The pictures were shared around the world and the Afghan Football Federation said on its website on Monday it was in contact with representatives of Messi and would arrange for Murtaza to meet the player soon.
A passion for soccer helps unite one of the world’s most diverse countries
During games, competing drum sections narrate the action with maximum drama and a kind of military flair. The games are so intense that armed police escort referees off the field. A weekday victory means amped-up fans create an instant street party around the stadiums. In Brazil, they don’t need much of an excuse to party. Like the beaches, the crowds at the soccer stadium impressed me with their racial integration. Sacramento, the vice mayor, agreed that soccer is a unifying force. But she noted that political and economic empowerment for Salvador’s majority black population is moving at a painfully slow pace. She, for example, is only the second black person to hold a government office as high as hers in the history of Salvador. She hopes to see more black people attending college and running for office. “Some problems we need to solve ourselves,” she said.
SquashBusters is a little bit about squash and a lot about changing the lives of urban teenagers
Greg Zaff left a professional squash career in search of a job in public service. But then he found a way to combine his two passions. “Students spend three to four days a week with us. For middle-school kids, it’s 75 minutes of academics, so homework and making sure they’re staying on course in school, and then 75 minutes of fitness and squash. The high-school program is three hours long. It has an academic enrichment hour, a homework hour, and a squash hour. Enrichment in high school we do because there are things we think high schoolers have to have. We do career exposure. We take them to businesses. We bring in speakers. We’re trying to move them beyond just schoolwork to prepare them for college and work. And we do fun stuff, too. We go skiing on a weekend and we visit prep schools and we go to New York City to see a play.
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad Qualifies For Olympics, Will Become First U.S. Athlete to Compete In a Hijab
Before even scoring a point, Ibtihaj Muhammad will make history this summer in Rio de Janeiro by being the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympics in a hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women. Muhammad, an African American women’s saber fencer, first made history several years ago when she became the first Muslim woman to compete for the U.S. in fencing. Now that she has qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Muhammad is making history once more. “I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender,” Muhammad says in her USA Fencing bio. “I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.” The 30-year-old fencer has been on fire this season, earning bronze medals at two of the three world cups held so far. After earning bronze at the Athens world cup on Saturday, Muhammad mathematically secured her spot on the 2016 Olympic team.
Meet the 5 friends who have attended every single Super Bowl
In 1967, a group of five friends decided to fly to Los Angeles and buy $10 tickets to check out something called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game in a stadium that was barely half full. Vince Lombardi’s mighty Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 that day in front of 61,946 fans. The five guys had enough fun at what is now known as Super Bowl I that they decided to go to the next year’s game. They haven’t stopped attending the big game since. On Sunday, that same group of friends, known as the “Super Bowl Five,” will be in attendance at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, when the Panthers take on the Broncos. Sylvan Schefler, Lew Rappaport, Al Schragis, Larry McDonald and Harvey Rothenberg will have attended all 50 Super Bowls since the game’s humble beginnings in the Los Angeles Coliseum nearly a half-century ago. “Nothing is forever,” Schefler said. “We all understand that. But we’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to say this is 50 years.” “We’re devoted to each other, and we’re devoted to the Super Bowl,” Rothenberg said.
Red Sox ace David Price donates $300K for Miracle Field project in hometown
The new Boston Red Sox ace donated $300,000 for the Miracle Field project in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The field is specially designed for those with special needs — MLB.com notes the field features a cushioned surface that makes it easier to maneuver on wheelchairs and walkers. “One day of a couple of hours of baseball doesn’t raise a lot of eyebrows for myself or a lot of other people, but for these kids it’s something they look forward to every day of the week leading up till Saturday,” Price told The Tennessean. “Just to be a part of that and help put one here in our hometown is very special.” And it isn’t just as baseball field; the complex will feature a playground, concession stands, covered bleachers and more. Price, who lives in Nashville and played collegiately at Vanderbilt, and others shared some photos from the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.
Brooklyn College Games Seem Like Family Outings (Because They Are)
Since November, the Gjonbalaj family of Brooklyn has had at least a dozen reunions. Nearly all of them have taken place in New York City basketball gyms. Two Gjonbalaj brothers — Egzon and Pajtim — play for the Brooklyn College basketball team. A third, Edon, played for the Bulldogs until he graduated this winter. But the Gjonbalaj (pronounced JON-ba-lie) presence extends well into the stands. The brothers’ father, Bajram, is among the team’s most engaged fans, slapping hands with players and berating referees, sometimes in his native Albanian. A fourth son, Idriz, an officer for the New York Police Department, attends most games as well, as does the youngest member of the family, a 15-year-old sister named Idriana. In fact, up to 40 Gjonbalaj relatives and friends attend most Brooklyn College home games, and many travel to road games as well. Among them is a cousin, Valon Djombalic, who played the previous two seasons for the Bulldogs.
Bajram Gjonbalaj, far left, reacted to a basket on Tuesday night by his son Egzon, a top scorer for Brooklyn College, as other family members and friends cheered. Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
DOSB President joins German Chancellor to present Star of Sports award
The VfL Bad Wildungen club were honoured for actively approaching refugees to integrate them into the community, by offering them free membership to take part in sport at their clubs, such as football, boxing and swimming. It is claimed the refugees became closer to existing members of the club and were able to improve their German language skills, helping them integrate in the country. The club, run by volunteers, were presented with a cheque for €10,000 (£7,600/$10,900) by Merkel and Hörmann. “Sport is a language that everyone understands immediately, regardless of skin colour, religion and nationality, it applies to all the same rules in a fair competition,” said Hörmann. “Not where you come from, but where are you going and what you’re willing to pay for it are the crucial questions. “With the values of sport – mutual assistance, fairness and respect – we want the new citizens handed the keys to new vitality.”
Lacrosse players mix sport with good deeds in Jamaica
Laney Dee got a taste of Jamaica this summer, but it wasn’t just the food and culture that sent the 20-year-old to the island nation. It was the love of the sport of lacrosse – and helping others – that had her flying almost 1,300 miles to Kingston. Dee, a 2013 graduate of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach and rising junior at Randolph-Macon College, participated in Fields of Growth International. Started in 2009 by Kevin Dugan, a former college lacrosse coach and player, Fields of Growth is a nonprofit aimed at transforming the passion of the lacrosse community into positive social impact in developing countries. Dee, who has played lacrosse since her freshman year in high school, said she likes the mental challenge of the game. Always interested in participating in a mission trip, she learned about Fields of Growth and signed up a week later.
It’s All About Timing: From Ivy League Student to Professional Soccer Player to Budding Entrepreneur
It takes several key skills and commitments to succeed as an entrepreneur. You need to work hard, you need to trust your gut, you need to be ready to see the writing on the wall and adapt to it. But sometimes it is about being at the right place at the right time. The founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, famously said: The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it. From actors and celebrities, to bankers and billionaires–it often comes down to being in the right moment, and seizing it. For Cameron Porter, a former computer science major at an Ivy League school, his chance to be his own boss–even his own enterprise–came when he landed on the professional soccer team, the Montreal Impact. And timing and good luck really started to surprise him on March 3rd, at 9:30pm. Cameron explains how he got to Montreal, the magic of good timing, and how he sees his future both in soccer and social enterprise.