For most 13-year-olds soccer fanatics, a trip to the 2006 World Cup in Germany would have been a dream come true. For Kyle Weiss, it was the opportunity to build fields of dreams for others.
Six years later, his organization, FUNDaField has furnished thousands of young soccer players with equipment, hosted tournaments, and built eight fields in Africa and Haiti. The Claremont McKenna student recently received a $25,000 World of Children Youth Award for his efforts. Read on to see how Kyle made his pitch perfect.
What inspired you to start FUNDaField?
At the World Cup in 2006, we met these Angolan fans, and they were telling us they’d been in a civil war for 20 years, that they were the luckiest people in their country that got to go to their country’s first ever World Cup. They were telling us about how they have really bad soccer fields and no equipment. So me and my brother came back to the United States and we were like, let’s send some soccer equipment over. We had way too much soccer equipment in our garage, so why waste it?
We started raising money and writing letters and talking to people, and we started having fundraisers, and a bunch of other kids joined. All of the sudden we became a real nonprofit and started building soccer fields. We have two in South Africa, four in Uganda, and two in Kenya, and we’re working on two in Haiti, one in the Congo, and one in Swaziland. To this day, it’s all run by kids.
What has been the impact of your efforts?
A couple years ago we started working to build our fields in areas that have gone through conflict or trauma. A lot of the ex-child soldiers in Uganda were telling us about how they can’t afford therapy, so they use sports for kids as a form of therapy. So that’s why Haiti, the Congo, Swaziland: they’ve all had some sort of serious crisis or trauma. We’ve also done it at schools because it shows it increases enrollment and attendance 20 percent minimum, every time we build a field.
What have you seen when you’ve visited your fields?
I’ve been 13 times since we started. We get to play sometimes in the tournaments, but sometimes we watch. They are so serious about it, and they love it. There is so much passion around the field that it’s more than a soccer field here. It’s their community meeting place. It’s no longer the field in this village; it’s the village around this field. We take groups of kids over, because a lot of the kids work really hard, and that’s what kind of keeps motivating kids to give back.
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