Friday, April 28, 2006

749 balls so far!

Thanks to the 10 soccer balls donated by Dave Nahmias from Atlanta, GA we're now up to 749 donated! To see a picture of Dave and others who have donated check out the pictures link to the left or click here.

The rest of the Nahmias clan has been helping out too, running ball drives in their local schools and covering the cost of shipping the donated balls. Eric's cousin Cheryl married into the Nahmias clan and has run a soccer ball drive of her own in Atlanta. Pictures of Cheryl and family are posted, click on the photos link.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

First Contributors to Eric's Goal!

At the beginning of March, 2006, Nicholas (age 9) and Tanner (age 5) gave us the 1st donations to Eric's Goal! They live with their parents in Forest Hill, MD. The Pirovolidis brothers are big soccer fans! Thanks guys for getting us started!

To see pictures of Nicholas, Tanner, and other generous folks please check out the photos link to the left or click here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Soccer Shack Donations

Our thanks to John McHugh of the Soccer Shack in Bel Air, MD who collected over 2 dozen cleats and other equipment to donate to Eric's Goal for the Iraqi kids! John even included gold and silver medals - now that is looking to the future!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Letter to Eric

Doreen, from Ellicott City, MD and the mom of a USNA cadet sent the following letter to Eric with her donation toward his goal:

"Dear Eric,

Let me begin by saying Thank You for your service to our country! I contacted your mother after reading about your soccer project. I think it’s a great idea what you are doing and I wish you the best of luck with it.

I have three daughters who grew up playing soccer in Howard County, Maryland. The two oldest played varsity soccer at Centennial High School and were State Champs in 2002. My middle daughter, Valerie, is currently finishing up her plebe year at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. She plays lacrosse now for the Navy Women’s Team. They will be going up to West Point at the end of the month for the All Service Academy Women’s Lacrosse Tournament.

Well, I have packed up two large boxes of used soccer equipment for you. I hope that you will be able to put it to good use. I hope that it all arrives in good shape. It was very sentimental for me to go through a lot of this stuff as it brought back memories of my daughters’ teams when they were very young. I’m happy to think that some Iraqi children may be able to benefit from it now.

Good luck reaching your goal! I will pray for your safety."

Thank you letter

We continue to have wonderful people doing great things to help out with this goal and hopefully add some enjoyment to the lives of Iraqi children.

The following is the letter sent to the Norwood School in Bethesda, MD on behalf of the Savage Boys & Girls Club (and the Zilka family) in thanks for their donation:

"Dear Sir/Madam:

On behalf of the Savage Boys and Girls Club, Inc., it is with tremendous appreciation and heartfelt gratitude that I would like to thank you for your most recent and generous donation of 50 soccer balls, in support of our “Eric’s Goal” program to collect & send used soccer balls and equipment overseas to the children of Iraq.

Eric is currently serving in Iraq, and he recently wrote to family members, to let them know that the #1 thing he’d like for us to send him are soccer balls and any equipment required for playing soccer (such as nets, jerseys, boots and gloves) to distribute to the kids in his region.

Eric’s unit is currently planning to build a soccer field and start organizing soccer teams and eventually, a soccer league.

Used equipment is as good as new, because the soldiers can give them to Iraqi children and tell them that a person in the U.S. wanted them to have it. We thank you for helping us collect soccer equipment, new or used, to send Eric so that he and his fellow soldiers can distribute them to these deserving kids.

Here is a quote from Eric’s recent email: “I think you would all agree that a soccer ball is more than a material gift - it allows a child (or adult) to do more than just play, it allows them to participate with others, learn team work, accept and conquer small challenges, and build their minds and bodies a little bit.”

Thanks in advance for your kind support!"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The over-700 club

Well, we're now at 700+ soccer balls with more rolling in every day (ha ha)!

Ginny (Eric's fiancee) recruited some friends in Colorado to help and here's what one of them had to say:
"I am always willing to help and be a part of something good for the world. Even if it makes the tiniest difference, count me in! Thanks for the opportunity to help with this fun and meaningful project. If you ask me, this is what is important in the world. Thanks to you and Eric for taking on this wonderful endeavor in the first place! What a difference you have made!" -Grace in Colorado

Adrienne in MD responded to one of the newspaper articles:
"Thanks to your son and you for your work. It proves once again that one person can make a difference." As Eric's Aunt Cookie says, "one person can make a difference" is a great motto for our effort!

We are very thankful to Grace, Adrienne, and to all of those who have been so generous as to donate balls, equipment, money and time to this effort. Please check out the Photos link to the left to see some of our helpers with their collections!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

War if by Soccer

Press Release
For Immediate Release

IRAQ – Tasked with finding and stopping insurgents before the next bomb blast rips further tears in Iraq’s stability, an American soldier patrols Iraq’s dusty streets looking for insurgents. At any given time, on any quiet street, a handful of Iraqi children trail behind Eric, a U.S. Army soldier, calling, “Mista, mista, ball, ball.”

“Most Iraqi kids don’t want something to eat, they want something to play with, namely a ball. Everyday I get requests from children,” said Eric, who began handing out soccer balls sent over by his family and friends. Often the gesture is reciprocated when an Iraqi mother tentatively offers the soldiers a cup of tea, as her small, but meaningful thanks.

“This is how you fight an insurgency,” said Eric. “Give the people something to enjoy, something to relate to you with, something to make them happy and to take away from anything the insurgents and terrorists may have to offer the people. Even if you don’t agree with the war, you can’t disagree that Iraq needs to be given back to the Iraqi people and not foreign insurgents.”

Like most of our troops, Eric is a typical American young man, who played soccer in his youth, and that is the thread of understanding that is bridging the vast cultural gap between Iraqis and Americans and perhaps changing in some small way, Iraqis’ perceptions of Americans.

“Whenever we give a ball away, we always try to spend a few minutes playing around with the Iraqi kids or adults,” said Eric. “Not an easy task when you are wearing 60 pounds of armor, ammunition, and carrying radios and rifles, not to mention you are trying to find and kill insurgents.”

But the Iraqi children’s pleas for balls have surpassed his stateside family and friends abilities to provide them, so they are taking the project public.

Dubbed, “Eric’s Goal,” the extended family began a grass-roots ball drive, collecting new and used balls which are then sent to Iraq. To date, about 685 balls have been shipped to Iraq with the goal of sending thousands more.

“And I think most would agree that a soccer ball is more than a material gift – it allows a child, or adult, to participate with others, learn team work, accept and conquer small challenges, and build their minds a bodies a little bit,” Eric said.

Soccer is the only major sport in Iraq, and at first the Iraqi people looked askance at the American soldiers’ playing ability. “They doubted us a first, but we have impressed some of them with American soccer skills,” he said.

Deflated balls are easiest to ship. New or used balls and any type of soccer equipment is needed. “People may have old balls or soccer equipment sitting in a garage gathering dust,” said Eric. “With a used ball I can tell them it is a gift from an American who wanted an Iraqi who also loves soccer to be able to play - not for money or competition, but for the love of the sport.”

On March 17, the Major Indoor Soccer League team the Philadelphia KiXX announced that, “The club has partnered with the Defense Department’s ‘America Supports You,’ as well as several branches of the United States Military and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association (EPSYA) to distribute soccer balls to the youth players throughout the countries of Afghanistan and Iraq. Any fan bringing a new soccer ball to the team’s home finale versus the Baltimore Blast on Saturday, April 8 will receive a voucher for a complimentary ticket to a KiXX home game in the 2006-07 season.”

Individuals or groups interested in helping Iraqi children by participating in Eric’s Goal, may email for further information.