Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Condoms for footballers - yes, they can!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Condoms for footballers - yes, they can!

Football has become a common language as well as a tradeable currency. In Banda Aceh recently I was astonished to see a huge billboard with Stephen Gerrard's face writ large - a role model for high standard Premiership football, now sadly tarnished as brawling Gerrard's face sprawls across the tabloids instead. Then amidst acres of Miombo woodland in remote northern Mozambique we came across a villager peddling an ancient bicycle and a team shirt that provided common ground for a long conversation.

It also provided inspiration for a project* that resulted in 100 "Alive & Kicking" locally-made leather footballs being delivered to the enthusiastic Peles-in-the-making in villages around Niassa Reserve. These young guys were bundling up plastic bags and tying them with local twine into ball shapes. If they had had access to condoms, they could have improved on this model themselves. African ingenuity is using blown-up condoms as the basis for bounceable balls - covering them in plastic and old clothing for strength. I suppose by preventing their use for the purpose intended (and setting aside serious considerations of poverty, aids, climate etc for a moment), they are also ensuring a continuing supply of African football talent in years to come!

* A collaboration between Martin Aveling, Alive & Kicking, Sociedade de Gestão e Desenvolvimento da Reserva do Niassa (SRN), Keith and Colleen Begg, Fauna & Flora International & Fauna & Flora International Inc.

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