|Body and Soul Press Release|
Adventure Retreat Hopes to Win the Game for Social Change in the Republic of Niger
The adventure retreat plans to raise money to purchase 2,000 soccer balls to send to the developing country. The Niger government and the American Peace Corps have agreed to work with Body & Soul Adventures in support of the program, providing internal air and ground transport and accommodations, as well as the distribution of the equipment.
Mitchell devised the idea for Project Play Niger in his physical education master's thesis at California State University, Chico. Based on his experience coaching and playing soccer while serving in the Peace Corps in Niger from 1983 to 1985, the charitable program stresses the unique ability of sports to enhance and improve the quality of life in economically deprived countries.
In 1983, Mitchell made friends with Nigerian children by taking 15 soccer balls in his luggage when he went to Niger to play for L'Equipe Espoir (Team Hope) in the town of Zinder. The team went on to win the 1984 Niger National Championship in 1984, marking the first time the team won the competition and providing Mitchell with a dream of returning to the country in the future with 2,000 balls.
"Team sports stimulate students' interest in school and advance their social skills," said Mitchell. "They also promote community cooperation among the adults involved in supervising the program. Project Play Niger is new, and our intention is to make it a model for similar projects in other African countries and elsewhere in the world."
More than 20 years after envisioning the potential of the soccer ball to help combat poverty, Mitchell has decided to coordinate this project through Body & Soul Adventures with the help of Dena McKelvey, Dave Stahl, Steve Haws and Jim Meicke. This team has more than 20 years combined travel experience in third world and developing countries and formed themselves as the driving force behind Project Play Niger.