11.15.12 How Tim Jahnigen and Sting helped develop an indestructible ball for the beautiful game...


Sometimes a football is more than just a ball. Sometimes, it's a lifesaver.

Tim Jahnigen has always followed his heart, whether as a carpenter, a chef, a lyricist or now as an entrepreneur. So in 2006, when he saw a documentary about children in Darfur who found solace playing football with balls made out of garbage and string, he was inspired to do something about it.

The children, he learned, used trash because the balls donated by relief agencies and sporting goods companies quickly ripped or deflated on the rocky dirt that doubled as football fields. Kicking a ball around provided such joy in otherwise stressful and trying conditions that the children would play with practically anything that approximated a ball.

"The only thing that sustained these kids is play," said Jahnigen, of Berkeley, California. "Yet the millions of balls that are donated go flat within 24 hours."

During the next two years, Jahnigen, who also was working to develop an infrared medical technology, searched for something that could be made into a ball but never wear out, go flat or need a pump. Many engineers he spoke to were dubious of his project. But Jahnigen eventually discovered PopFoam, a type of hard foam made of ethylene-vinyl acetate, a class of material similar to that used in Crocs, the popular and durable sandals.

"It's changed my life," he said.

Figuring out how to shape PopFoam into a sphere, though, might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and Jahnigen's money was tied up in his other business.

Then he happened to be having breakfast with Sting, a friend from his days in the music business. Jahnigen told him how football helped the children in Darfur cope with their troubles and his efforts to find an indestructible ball. Sting urged Jahnigen to drop everything and make the ball. Jahnigen said that developing the ball might cost as much as $300,000. Sting said he would pay for it.

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(3) Reviews and Comments
barb - 11.20.12
Well done!
Yet another reason why we love this man!
ahlehner - 11.20.12
ahlehner
Such well directed power, uncommon sense and measurable vitality. These gifts and this grace! Balls and so much more!!!! Que hombre! Play on...
spfarrell - 11.15.12
Oh my
What a lovely story about Sting's blue balls... Seriously though, quite nice.
The Rainforest Foundation UK is hosting an auction, featuring items that have been donated by celebrities, luxury labels, and esteemed brands, to raise funds to protect the world's rain forests. The 12 Days of Christmas, an online auction now celebrating its third year, will run until November 25, 2012. The auction is hosted by Ebay at www.ebay.co.uk/12days. Some of the exclusive items available include an autographed Signature Series Precision Bass Guitar from Sting, tickets to Sting's Back to Bass concert in Singapore on December 13, a London 2012 t-shirt signed by Olympic medalists including Tom Daley, Nicola Adams, and more, signed memorabilia from Hobbit and Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian Mackellen, Olivia Newton-John, and much more!
Playwright Lee Hall and musician Sting have provided extra funding towards the In Harmony NewcastleGateshead project that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of orchestral music-making. The Sage Gateshead was chosen to lead the three year regional project working with Hawthorn Primary School in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. Based on the principles of Venezuela’s inspirational* El Sistema* – which produced the world famous Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra – the project will give every child in the school access to a musical instrument and music tutors on a daily basis. In order to deliver the sessions regularly, the school requires extra space to be able to house rehearsals and workshops...

[1] Comments
Gerry Richardson's Big Idea is a dynamic nine-piece Hammond organ based band exploring the jazz organ genre to the max! Soul, Gospel, Funk, Swing and Samba are all part of the mix. Add to that some kicking original tunes, many written as tributes to the legendary jazz and soul musicians who have inspired Gerry throughout his career and you get an unbeatable format for a great nights' music. Speaking of the Big Idea's 'Cooking At The Cluny' album, Sting said "Turn up the album loud enough for your neighbours to hear, imagine yourself in a steamy, heaving club in Newcastle and let the warm currents of music wash over you, soothe your body and nourish your soul. Enjoy!". Tickets are available for what promises to be a terrific night at thesagegateshead.org/event/gerry-richardson/...

[2] Comments
Sting may be celebrating 25 years in music, but the one-time "Police" frontman hates to look back, he told AFP on the final stretch of a year-long tour that wraps up in Asia in December. "I'm not a very nostalgic person. It's just not in my nature," the singer said in an email interview, before arriving in France this week for the latest leg in the "Back to Bass" tour, launched in 2011. Once the tour is over - the last programmed date is in Jakarta on December 15, final stop after half a dozen Asian gigs - Sting intends to move on. "After this tour, I'm switching gears a bit and will continue work on the play I'm writing," said the singer, born Gordon Sumner, who just turned 61...

[3] Comments