|History of Project Play|
Project Play and the dream to bring soccer balls to impoverished African nations were conceived back in 1983 while, the Founder Mike Mitchell, was a Peace Corp volunteer in Niger, West Africa. He experienced first-hand the poverty, despair and hardship in which the people lived as well as the immense joy soccer brought to the people of Niger. Mike was overwhelmed by their tremendous enthusiasm for soccer but lack of opportunity to actually participate in the game.
After seeing the positive results made in Niger and realizing the magnitude of impact a soccer ball can make, Mike and Dave knew they wanted to replicate and sustain their efforts in other African nations. The overwhelming positive response to the media coverage they received following the trip to Niger was motivation to take Project Play to the next level.
In September 2008, Project Play received 501c3 status when they partnered with Chico Cal Soccer Club. They reorganized and recruited new Board members. In 2010, Project Play traveled to the country of Benin and worked with the Peace Corps to initiate play in a score of rural communities. In 2011, with the guidance from Pencils for Kids, Project Play returned to Niger to work with the community of Libore to develop a youth league for a the community of 75,000 people outside the capital city of Niamey.