Last June 16th, Ignasi Prat, the director of E&TB Group, the company that owns www.spainticketsonline.com was in Khayelitsha, a town just outside of Capetown (South Africa), to give out personally the indestructible balls to African kids with Bob Sager, the creator of “The Sager Family Foundation”. The result of the experience was more than positive: more than 500 indestructible balls reached the hands of South African children.
The Sager Family Foundation (www.teamsager.org) is an American foundation that organizes projects to help the most disadvantaged areas of the planet. One such initiative is The Power of the Invisible Sun (www.poweroftheinvisiblesun.com): the foundation gives indestructible balls (Hope Ball) to children who live in countries of conflict.
In www.spainticketsonline.es we decided to assist in this joint initiative and we have adapted the format to our business, so for every sale that the company made through our website in the last months, we donated an indestructible ball to African children.
Here we have the testimony of Ignasi Prat, who has recently been in Africa to deliver the indestructible balls.
Ignasi Prat (on the left side of the image with red coat) with
Sager Foundation members and children of the town of Khayelitsha
What are your feelings after returning from your trip to South Africa?
I feel a mixture of satisfaction and nostalgia. I feel satisfaction because I am proud to have helped children from Khayelitsha to be happier, especially with something as vital for them as football. But I’m also nostalgic to be back. I was shocked by the lives of these children, very different to the lives of other kids whose lives are much easier, so I would like to return to both Khayelitsha and other villages in order to help even more.
How did you reach the decision to collaborate in this Project?
Earlier this year I heard about the latest charitable initiative of the family Sager and I believed it was very interesting. I thought it was nice that everybody could do their bit for people who unfortunately do not live in as good conditions as we do. I believe that helping other people is necessary. The joy of helping others is great, it brings a feeling of great happiness.
And then you decided to invite more people to join this initiative…
That’s right. I think the most important thing about these joint initiatives is that the more people involved the better, so I decided to incorporate the initiative into our work, which is also related to football. Every day we are in contact with people from many parts of the world. Many people have joined the project, and without any additional cost for them, of course. Our customers have donated an indestructible ball to the children of the town of Khayelitsha for every purchase they have made.
Did you also use social networks?
Yes, Facebook and Twitter helped us to expand the project. Social networks nowadays are the key to communication and interaction, so we thought they were vital to the success of the project. On Facebook every group of people who became fans of our page have donated a Hope Ball to African children. In the case of Facebook we activated a campaign in which, for every new fan we gained, we contributed € 0.10 extra to the cause. This initiative was successful, although I wish that more people had signed up. In the end a few extra balls were personally donated to South African children as a result of this campaign.
You said “indestructible balls”. Is it true that they never break?
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe but the truth is that there is no way to destroy them (laughs). The Hope Balls are made to be used forever I think a picture is worth a thousand words so I invite you to watch the video to prove they are indestructible: http://vimeo.com/13037112
Have you personally proved it?
It did not take even a second. The first time I had the ball in my hands I tried my hardest to destroy it, but it was impossible. In fact, we cut a ball with a knife in South Africa and the ball maintained its shape and did not deflate in the slightest. The children and I continued playing with the ball as usual.
Tell me about the children. What did you think about the situation in which they live?
The children were certainly the best part of my trip. On the first day I asked myself: “How can they give others so much having so little themselves?” The situation of children who live in Cape Town and those who live in the West is very different. Here (Barcelona) children have everything and African children often do not even have what is essential for them to live. I tell my kids how lucky they are to have so many things and I tell them about my experience in Africa so that they appreciate this and learn the importance of sharing. We all understand that most of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty and that this should not be the case. A little effort from everyone would be enough to significantly improve the lives of millions of people. Sometimes we forget that a waterfall is made up of millions of drops of water. We often see the problems as insurmountable because we look at the waterfall but instead we should look at the drops that are each and every one of us.
And this is why they are so grateful.
Exactly. They have so few things that when you give them something, it is an incredible gift for them, and even more so in the case of the indestructible balls. Football is everything for them. It is a sport, entertainment, a way to forget everything else … It is, ultimately, their life.
What were the balls they had before they were given the Hope Balls like?
Unfortunately there were no balls in good condition… There were some balls for playing football but they were old and in poor condition. Others were not even balls. They played football together using crushed bottles tied together with string, or something similar. They weren’t soccer balls, so we are happy to have given them real balls that will last a long time.
Ignasi Prat with an African kid and a Hope Ball
So Spain Tickets is satisfied with the project.
We are more than satisfied. Sometimes people want to join these initiatives but do not ever actually do it. We have been able to accomplish what we set out to do, and now the children of a South African town are a little happier. This is the most important thing, contributing to the happiness of the young and defenseless. It’s really exciting to see a smile on their face when you give them a ball.
And is it true that this solidarity initiative does not end here?
Of course, this is only the beginning! The Sager family never stops, it is always starting up and working on new charitable projects to help people living in the most disadvantaged places of the planet. We joined one of these projects for the first time, and we succeeded. However, it need not end here, we will always support projects if they seek help, be supportive. In fact, I’m thinking about forming an FC Barcelona team in Khayelitsha. This has only just begun!
Would you also do it with the symbolic support of customers?
We would do it with the support of our clients, of course. The more people we help, the better. The result will be entirely positive: those we help will be happier and we will be happy with the help we’ve provided. Spain Tickets Online is a company made up of caring people who want to help others, so whenever we can combine professionalism and solidarity, we will be there.