Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cub Scout Pack 875

Our young Cub Scouts and their families continue to make generous contributions to Eric's Goal! Cub Scout Pack 875 collected 13 soccer balls, 2 pumps, and $20.00 for postage! Photos of the kids are posted here. Ben and his sister Sarah are helping to fold the American flag in one photo, at a Memorial Day celebration.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cub Scout Pack 468

Many thanks to Cub Scout Pack 468 and Joni Elmore for collecting 14 soccer balls, 1 pump, and 3 pair of shin guards for the Iraqi children! We mailed them out to Eric on May 24th, 2006.

Pack 468 is located in Parkton, MD. The photo attached is of the Cub Scouts on the day they placed flags to honor soldiers at Garrison Forest Veteran's Cemetary, for Memorial Day.

Photos of the Scouts can be found here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Short article about Iraq - and soccer balls!

Slate has a nice article about how things are going in Baghdad. The author of the story traveled around with some soldiers and documents his experiences. It's kind of nice because it doesn't push any particular viewpoint, just reports what he saw, what the soldiers said.

Also cool because one of the soldiers gives soccer balls to kids in the story!!
Here's the link:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Add it up... 1,253 and counting!

Well, it's been a little while since I've updated the count, etc but here it is. We currently stand at 1,253 soccer balls collected and the donations continue to pour in!

We have also received some non-ball soccer items recently, including 66 brand new soccer shorts donated by the manufacturer, Yale Sports. On the photos link is a picture of the Yale Sports gang, including Charlie & Marie Nemphos (far left). Charlie is president of the company and brother-in-law of another donator, Tina Nemphos. We also thank Bob Krebs, manager of Yale Sports and the man responsible for putting together the donation package. Thanks Yale Sports!!

More posts to come soon...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

From one kid to another...

Mustafa is Ginny's (Eric's fiancee) next door neighbor. He recently sent a letter to Eric. For a picture of Mustafa and his brother in their soccer uniforms click here. Mustafa also has donated soccer balls to Eric's Goal.

It's wonderful to see how generous the children of our country can be! Great job Mustafa!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Message from Eric 2: Kids

This is from a letter on April 7th.

"4 days ago I was walking through some orchards and palm groves with a team of men, searching for... stuff. Anyway, we came across a house with a mom, 3 little boys and 2 little girls. Of course I did not have anything with me to give them because I store it in my truck and can't carry it when we are searching. So I told the little boys if they followed me back to the truck 500 meters away I would give them soccer balls. So they began following us. We were walking through the orchards which the Iraqis have irrigated by digging small canals throughout, which make them tough to navigate. They are also full of briar and other such thorn bushes due to recent neglect over the winter. Well, these 3 little boys, about 10, 7 and 4, were barefoot walking behind us trying to keep up. The smallest one was having trouble due to his short legs and inability to conquer the obstacles like the others. I did not have a multerjum (interpreter) with me, so I just walked over to him, picked him up and carried him waist level with me. At first he was really scared and his eyes got big - "what the heck is this dude about to do to me?!?" After a few seconds he realized my intentions and got this cool, relaxed look that I've only ever seen in young Iraqi boys, and just rode along there with me. The look is unique because it is not happiness or sadness at first, it's a look of complete innocence and in a way, vulnerability, knowing that you can do anything you want to them and they are at your mercy. But then they give you this look; they know because you are American that you won't let harm come to them. It's a look of protection I think. Anyway, it's interesting. Wish I could have had a picture but we had a timeline.

So I get back to the trucks with these kids, who trudged all the way through the damn orchards with us, and to my dismay, the guys at the truck had handed out all the balls already! I really felt bad. We looked through all the vehicles and managed to find one soccer ball, which we gave to them, and I also found a humanitarian aid bag with rice, sugar, salt and tea in it, so I sent that with them as well. I felt bad that I didn't have three balls but they are brothers so one should do, and I'm sure their mother will appreciate the food stuffs.

Yesterday I was in the same area, and a kid saw the balls in our trucks as we got out, and we were immediately hounded by 20 or so kids of all ages screaming for a ball. The bigger kids start pushing aside the smaller ones, next thing you know kids are crying and getting stepped on and all kinds of trouble arises. That's when we get a little irritated, but it's easy to control kids when you are in your gear - they know you mean business. So I immediately tell them to stop moving and be quiet. Then I usually give the smallest kids a few things, just crayons and books, and tell the rest not to beg. Or I tell all the boys to leave and I only give things to the girls. If they start begging, our policy is we don't give to beggars. "mista, give me" is a popular phrase but warrants no ball or toys. I tell them "enteenee" which means "give me!" in Iraqi. Some get the point and they go find something to trade you. It teaches them that you have to give to recieve, and it's interesting what kinds of things they come up with to trade. Yesterday I traded 5 balls for 4 marbles and a small bag of apples.

Of course if we are in a town and the kids are well behaved and not looking for handouts, we happily give things away. You just have to be careful how you conduct business in very poulated areas...

I have about 100 or so balls waiting to be inflated and taken out..... thank you all so much! I apreciate each of you putting your time into this."

Message from Eric 1: Approval to start the soccer ball drive

I thought people might be interested in reading some of Eric's letters that he posts on the family website, they give you an idea of the situation he is facing and how he sees this ball drive helping out with the American military efforts.

This letter is from March 18th, when we first really launched the ball drive:

"All, I've recieved word that we are officially approved on the soccer project. So let it rip on the news and projects; you have full permission to use my pictures and words (please edit accordingly to reduce errors).

It is approved as a project and even official US Gov funds will be channeled into it, pending approval from local community counsel officials and support of the people. But that's almost a given, at worst we may have to limit the number of teams fielded. This may turn into a large project - they're talking about building all new fields in the local community.

Given this, please remember that the soccer ball goal in #'s is important and can be the focus of the drive, but we need EVERYTHING needed to play soccer - balls, shoes (cleats), socks, shorts, jerseys, coach and referee shirts, whistles, goal nets, goalee gloves - just to name a few, and anything else you can possibly think of. Now of course we don't expect to recieve all this stuff brand new - we want everyone's old stuff that is sitting in their garage like old cleats and jerseys, old balls and gloves, etc. I think the BEST source to find such items will be local and regional soccer leagues - most of these organizations purchase new field equipment on a seasonal basis, and we could use things like goal nets and league soccer balls. And the players are always buying new shoes and gear - give your old stuff to Iraqis!

I will look around locally and talk to the guys here about possibly getting some return incentive for those who donate - maybe some small Iraqi flags, or hats that say Iraqi soccer league with the flag or something to that effect."

More letters from Eric in future postings.

Soccer balls keep on rolling in

Wonderful people continue to send soccer balls to Eric, who currently has several boxes of deflated balls waiting to be pumped up and distributed to local Iraqi children. (Nick & Trudy - mom and dad - are going to send him an electric pump to help with inflating all those balls.)

Including the 300 soccer balls collected by the folks at Elope in Colorado, we have collected a total of 1049 balls so far! This is really incredible and Eric and family extend our gratitude to all of those who have participated in this feat!

One challenge the family has faced with this drive is the money to ship the balls, it isn't cheap! But many friends and family members have chipped in with donations specifically meant to cover postage. And many folks have sent balls directly to Eric, which takes the burden off his parents & fiancee. Most recently we have to thank Eric's Aunt Betty & Uncle Gene, family friends Slyvia & Darl and Eric's grandparents, Mar & Dave who paid for shipping the Soccer Shack donations. Pictures of most of these people are posted at so check it out!

Thanks again and keep on sending in those soccer balls!