It wasn’t until he had reached the age of 40 that Tim Jahnigen had his 'Aha!' moment. “I was watching a news story about the plight of children in Darfur,” he said. “These acutely traumatised innocents were playing football with a ball of trash. I suddenly sat upright with the complete and unwavering understanding of the fact that these children deserved better. I not only wanted to make a ball that would enable them to play, but had a vision for a new type of ball that would play like a soccer ball, but would never go flat.”
Up until his revelation, Jahnigen had been involved in a number of different sectors and business ventures – including a career as a concert producer in the music industry. “I spent many years scrubbing, digging, washing and hammering – fulfilling other people’s dreams,” he said, adding that it was his connections in the music world that made the ball a reality.
Jahnigen had got to know the singer Sting personally after being a part of the production family for the artist’s bi-annual Rainforest Fund Concert. Soon after coming up with the indestructible ball idea, Jahnigen – alongside wife and business partner Lisa Tarver – mentioned his vision to Sting over breakfast.
“He was telling us how he had just financed the construction of a football pitch in Gaza,” Jahnigen said. “I shared my idea for an indestructible soccer ball with him and he immediately offered to cover the R&D costs.”
Sting’s involvement carries on in the ball’s name. “When the time came to decide what this new ball should be called, Sting simply said, 'One World', after his hit of the same name”, said Jahnigen. Sting and his wife Trudie Styler continue to support the project.
Jahnigen’s wife Lisa has said the venture is a mission-driven company focused on the transformative power of play. “We sell the One World Futbol through a buy one give one model”, she said. “For every ball purchased, we give a second one to an organisation using play and sport to teach health awareness, conflict resolution, gender equality and life skills.
“In addition, we partner with corporations, such as our founding sponsor Chevrolet, which has pledged to donate 1.5m balls over three years.”