Polk County’s girls soccer squad is doing much this season to raise awareness of its program, having rising to No. 6 in last week’s state 2A coaches poll.
The Wolverines, though, are also busy trying to bring attention to another aspect of the sport.
Polk County’s varsity and junior varsity teams are spending the season raising money to help buy soccer balls for children living in poverty around the world. The teams have set up fundraising jars at home games, may do a car wash and have modified their warmup jerseys to highlight the effort. There is also a jar for donations at Owens Pharmacy in Tryon.
“Coach (Lennox) Charles and I talked about it, and we presented it to the girls and they really liked it,” said Polk County head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach Will Pack. “It was our idea, but we let them decide whether to do it or not.”
Considered the world’s most popular sport, soccer is played in nearly every corner of the planet, yet many children make balls out of leaves, pieces of fabric or plastic bags. According to data from World Bank, almost three billion people across the world live on less than $2 a day, leaving barely enough money for scraps of food and certainly none for items such as soccer balls.
Polk County’s fundraising efforts are being conducted through World Vision, which is purchasing soccer balls for children at a price of two for $16.
“Even five dollars can make an impact,” Charles said. “If two people give you five dollars, you’ve got a soccer ball. If four people give you five dollars, you’ve got two. Any donation can help.”
Polk County will be raising funds all season. World Vision also will directly accept online donations.
“I think it’s a cool idea,” Pack said. “It takes the focus off us and focuses us on doing something for somebody else.”