WE OFTEN hear that football is the world game and aficionados of the sport are able to beam into every conceivable corner of the earth to watch football at the highest level.
The passion that exists for football around the world is not broadly recognised in Australia and its influence extends beyond the game itself.
Several months ago, I was approached by a local man, Aric Barach, who told me that he and his wife Jan, along with their 13-year old son Tull, were soon to travel to Tanzania to do some volunteer work. Being born in Israel and coming to Australia more than a decade ago as a 25-year old to enjoy the experience as backpacker, Aric comes from a culture where football is completely embraced.
The fundamental purpose of the trip to Tanzania was to contribute to an overseas community in a meaningful way, but Aric asked if Football Far North Coast could donate some gear to distribute as he had been unable to convince any multi-national sporting organisations to assist.
We were happy to offer several dozen soccer balls, playing shirts and other items. In a region where the average income is about $2 per day, English literacy skills are very poor and personal safety is tenuous, the family was subjected to rigorous checks before being cleared to visit that country, in a process that took ten months. They arrived in the village of Bunju, a place of 40,000 people, and in two weeks saw scenes that are hard for us to grasp here in the Lucky Country. They saw poverty so entrenched that most residents wear no shoes; housing consisted of humble tents or structures erected in a barren landscape.
The family's assimilation into the village included helping at the orphanage, giving basic English lessons and even donating money from their own pocket so that some rudimentary facilities could be provided.
Aric said that the children would make a soccer ball from rolling up paper or plastic and kick the ball with bare feet across the paddocks and dirt. Despite an obvious natural talent, Aric said most of these children had never seen a real soccer ball.
"Being able to give gear to the community brought much joy to the people and it touched our hearts to see how a soccer ball and items that we take for granted can bring so much happiness." Aric said.
The generosity of Aric and his family is to be commended and we are delighted that the world game has again shown how we are all one family.
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