When Alexa Alyeshmerni, 14, a freshman at Del Norte High School, learned that boys and girls in South Africa enjoy play soccer more than any other sport, even though some had never played with a real soccer ball, she decided to focus her Girl Scout Silver Project on creating a donation drive for soccer gear.
Her brother had just returned from a medical rotation in the remote village of Tugela Ferry, South Africa and described children playing with homemade soccer balls out of plastic grocery bags. She learned that playing soccer was a great way for them to channel their creative energy and avoid risky behaviors that in turn could lead to crime, HIV, and tuberculosis.
Alexa made various contacts with local soccer leagues, soccer academies and sent emails to friends and family. She established a donation box at the local Sport Authority and within two short weeks had amassed enough new and used gear to fill three large suitcases. With the help of her brother, Dr. Daniel Alyeshmerni and his colleagues with the Yale/Stanford Johnson and Johnson Global Health scholars program, medical residents will be bringing welcome soccer equipment to the local children in Msinga, South Africa.
Alexa looks forward to making her “Soccer 4 South Africa” an annual drive. She chose the project because it meant so much to her to help an underprivileged child have fun – or even achieve their dreams. “Perhaps delivering a soccer ball could go to the next ‘world cup star!”’