“I never realized the ripple effect a ball and an idea could make.” – Coach AK
In 2013, the trajectory of my life changed in a matter of 48 hours. At the time, I was an intern at a prestigious boarding school called Phillips Exeter Academy, which produced the likes of Mark Zuckerburg and Dan Brown, and I was approaching three months of relaxation of summer vacation.
I wanted to do something different. I was fortunate to see many parts of the world through my international travels as a professional athlete, but the thought of resort style travel was not the type of travel I had in mind for this particular summer.
A friend of mine was doing a writing immersion trip in the Philippines and I thought this would be a great location as I had never been to Asia. Through years of international travel, I was fortunate to rack up several airline miles and it happened to be that travel to the Philippines was half the mileage needed as usual. A quick Facebook message to my friend and 35,000 miles deducted later, I was going to Asia.
A few days before I began my journey, we were discussing logistics and came up with the idea to do something fun for the kids in the community. Since I have a sports background, my thought was to bring a bag full of footballs and see where it would take me. And take me it did!
Upon arrival and walking through the community, I never imagined how everyone would come together to make a sports camp a reality. Mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters banded together to paint the fields, create makeshift signs, provide meals and even offered to help serve as translators for the event. It was truly a community grassroots effort and it would have been impossible to execute without the help of all the community members.
I brought the balls and everything else came from within the community. It’s crazy to think of the impact and the ripple that was created from that one decision. That one decision lead to thousands of meals provided, hundreds of individuals connected through the power of sports, and a scholarship program that now gives several kids the opportunity to achieve their dream.