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GM Kicks in on Global Soccer Charity Program

Will supply 1.5 million free “indestructible” soccer balls to needy children worldwide.

by on May.31, 2012

GM Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick and One World COO Lisa Tarver.

Even as it announced a new marketing alliance with the world’s most valuable soccer team, Manchester United, General Motors revealed plans to donate 1.5 million soccer balls to needy children around the world.

The charity program is “the work I’m most proud of,” said GM global marketing czar Joel Ewanick, during a Thursday news conference called to announce the automaker’s deal with Manchester United.

(For more on the Chevy deal and its changing global marketing strategy, Click Here.)

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The “virtually indestructible” soccer balls will be distributed through the One World Futbol Project, which spent more than a year developing a ball that could be played with in even the most rugged environments without damage.  The project has already lined up support from a number of companies and celebrities such as pop singer Sting.

The One World ball with examples of what many poor children have otherwise been forced to play with.

“These balls will help keep hope alive” among children who might otherwise have nothing more to play with than leaves or garbage tied together with string, said One World co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Lisa Tarver.

“With the assistance of Chevrolet, we’re now bringing the power of play to children who need it most,” said Sting in a video shown during the news conference.

The heavy plastic balls can survive being played on the roughest surfaces, unlike traditional soccer balls, and can even self-inflate after being run over by a car.

They are already in use in 120 countries around the world and with the Chevy sponsorship the goal is to significantly expand distribution to poor children in the U.S. and other countries.

Among those who have been early recipients are former child soldiers at a retraining camp in Rwanda.

The California-based One World Futbol Project also offers the balls for sale on its website for $39.50, with the group donating one to needy children for each purchase.  Website visitors can choose to simply donate a ball for $25.

The balls donated by Chevrolet will feature the familiar Chevy bow-tie logo molded into its surface.

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