A little crazy goes a long way.
Take for instance professional soccer coach and former player Scotty Lee. Scotty met some Iranians at a bar and the next thing he knew he was working as a humanitarian in Bosnia during the war for the Iranian government. Scotty has stories with snipers, mortars, and tense check points. All crazy.
But he’s a good kind of crazy.
While on a return trip to Bosnia some kids were killed by a land mine during a game of soccer. Scotty had a crazy idea. Teach soccer and teach land mine awareness. It may not seem like the most logical correlation, but as Scotty puts it, “You can’t be a football player without legs. And you can’t be a goalie without arms.”
Scotty put some materials together and visited villages where he conducted soccer clinics followed by mine awareness sessions. The program grew into the Spirit of Soccer, “a grass roots childrens football charity which is registered in both the USA and UK and operates two soccer/football coaching projects at present in Bosnia and Cambodia.”
When I’m traveling somewhere, especially when I don’t speak the language, I’m always looking for a pickup game of something: basketball, soccer, pool, Frisbee, hackey sack, Kabbadi, baseball. You name it and I’ll play it. Sport has the ability to break down the social reservations that the players may have and open lines of communication. There is no better way to win over a village worth of kids than to play a game with them.
I suspect this is why Spirit of Soccer has been so successful and has passed on the love for the game and its lifesaving message to more than 50,000 kids.
I saw the organization at work in a village near Battambang (you can see pics and hear audio in the Made in Cambodia slideshow) and I later met Scotty in Phnom Penh.
Besides being the founder and backbone of a good cause, Scotty is one of the most interesting people I’ve had a drink with in awhile.