A few years back I was impressed when the winner of the third season of Survivor, Ethan, used his money to provide soccer balls for kids in needy countries. I had heard that these kids used bags full of trash in place of the real thing and was happy to know that some kids were getting the real thing.
Recently, reading this NY Times article, I found that those balls typically last only 24 hours in the rough conditions of third world neighborhoods. The ground and walls are too rough on inflated leather.
Mr. Jahnigen of Berkeley, California decided to do something about it and found a material called popfoam which would remain durable, providing a ball that could last 30 years. Out of this product he created the oneworld futbal. At first they were expensive to build and cost $40, which allowed you to buy one and donate another to a needy village. Unicef buys 30,000 a year but has to pay $30 each because of the high production costs.
Here's a video about the ball's construction.
They are truly impressive. The article discusses some of the stress tests he put the ball through:
To test the balls’ durability, Mr. Jahnigen sent them to places like Rwanda, where they were used at a camp for former child soldiers. A lion at the Johannesburg Zoo, who would go through six regular balls a day, played with two balls. A German shepherd spent a year biting on a ball. In every case, the balls withstood the abuse.
Still, there was the problem with price and size. They cannot be shipped uninflated. But recently, Chevrolet commissioned 1.5 million balls to be donated. Here's a plug for this worthy cause: