A love for the round ball game sometimes means you have to settle for a ball that may not always stay entirely round.
Even as the highest official in the Catholic Church today, Pope Francis shares the experience of playing soccer with a ball that is a far cry from those being kicked around on the pitches of Japan during the Olympic Games.
Discarded clothes, such as socks and t-shirts, plastic bags, some tape – these are the elements that allow children to engage in a game of soccer, on dusty plains, unpaved streets or in makeshift school playgrounds. If necessity is the mother of invention, then a recycled soccer ball is proof that children sometimes display a maternal touch themselves.
As described in the first module of Catholic Mission’s Socktober resources, a recycled soccer ball is borne out of a need to be innovative and creative.
Students attending Catholic schools across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will engage in Socktober later this year. When they do, they will be exposed to not just the challenges faced by their peers in other countries, but they will also be introduced to the creativity and problem-solving those children display when it comes to keeping themselves entertained and amused.
The Socktober campaign is a way for schools to bring their students, parents and staff on a journey of solidarity, empathy and compassion.
National Co-ordinator for Socktober, Matt Poynting said, “When we create our own sock ball, made of recycled materials and bound together with string, we are joining millions of other children from other cultures, past and present, and forming a clearer comprehension of what it means to ‘have’ and ‘have not," he said. "The empathy that comes with this is what drives our desire to make a difference.”
“No other sport in the world has such metaphorical power to represent the bonds we can form with our brothers and sisters with whom we may share little else in common,” Mr Poynting said.
W-League soccer star Sarah Willacy is a Socktober Ambassador. “The soccer elements of the Socktober program offer a lot of fun for students, but it is the tangible lessons about the importance of serving those less fortunate that will stay with them through their life,” she said.
Once the program kicks off in a school, students will be encouraged to kick goals for kids in need during a six-module journey of learning and formation, which is packed with activities and resources, including a popular penalty shootout activity held on a school’s mission day.
As students kick their goals, they seek sponsorship from friends and family, with all funds raised supporting mission projects in Thailand.
For more information about Socktober, visit socktober.org.au or contact the Catholic Mission office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on
0431 481 731.