ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City striker Chris Mueller is partnering with One World Play Project to bring the game of soccer to kids around the world.
The forward announced his newest charity partnership last week, calling for the Orlando City community to help raise funds for the effort. Mueller has set a goal to donate 500 soccer balls to children in at-risk communities around the world through the One World Play Project.
“The idea of having a soccer ball really changed my life,” Mueller said. “If you can give that opportunity to people who maybe lack the resources or don’t have the same opportunity that I was blessed to have, I think that you can see from some of my teammates, when they had a ball like that it really gave them that opportunity.”
🚨BIG NEWS IS OUT🚨
We're on a mission to distribute 500 soccer balls to kids around the world. Let's provide a life-changing opportunity TOGETHER!
— Christopher Mueller (@cmueller1662) September 18, 2019
“I’m beyond blessed to live in a country with the resources that have provided me with the opportunity to get where I am today. Guys on my team have all said how much this ball has had an impact on their lives and helped them to get where they are today.”
The organization distributes One World Futbols, which are durable soccer balls that are designed to never go flat. The idea behind these balls is to create a sustainable method of introducing the game of soccer to communities where children have limited access to the outlet of sport. Each ball donation costs $28, which includes the distribution to a selected community by One World Play.
Teammates Lamine Sané and Cristian Higuita have joined Mueller in the campaign. Both players spoke of their experiences growing up in difficult situations — for Sané in Villeneuve-sur-Lot in France, for Higuita in Cali, Colombia — and the importance of having access to a soccer ball during their childhood.
“My dream began with this ball,” Higuita said in the trio’s promotional video for the campaign. “I hope you all get the chance to use this ball. The opportunities I’ve had are because of this ball.”
The three players are promoting the campaign on social media with the hashtag #PotentialMeetsOpportunity, asking for fans to spread the word online if they can’t donate. Now, Mueller is creating plans to create promotional events throughout the rest of the year, including gifts for fans who meet different fundraising goals.
Mueller set Christmas as the deadline to hit his fundraising goal of 500 soccer balls — a donation total of $14,000. In the week since launching the project, it has already garnered enough donations for more than 150 balls.
For the forward, the opportunity to give back has always been one of the most exciting aspects of being a professional athlete. He said that as a child, small interactions with his favorite players stood out as defining memories of the game. Now, Mueller hopes to create that same inspiration for others, both in the Orlando community and throughout the world with this project.
“I’ve received unreal support from the fan base,” Mueller said. “I’m blessed to play the game I love every day and do what everyone dreams of doing. I want to give back and try to help others see that same opportunity. Hopefully we can change the world one little piece at a time.”