Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Panini Project: One step at a time

Paninis to me are one of two things: grilled sandwiches or collectible stickers. So when I heard about the Panini Project I had to stop and think. To my delight, I found out that this project is a very cool way to inspire kids in the UK to support and connect with kids in the Third World who love to play football. Looking at the website took me back twenty years to when my eldest son, Ben, was soccer mad and collected the entire collection of Panini’s World Cup stickers! I also remember on a flight down to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1988 when Ben successfully answered every football question my good mate Joe McCollum could throw at him. Joe finally threw in the towel when, in frustration, he asked Ben what Gary Lineker’s mum did for a living. Ben didn’t miss a beat and told him – she was a seamstress!

Getting back to the Panini Project, its goal is simple:

  • Collect a full set of (home) football shirts from every Premiership team. That’s a matter of getting 352 football players to pledge a shirt.
  • Donate the shirts to youth football teams, schools or football programmes in Third World countries.
Ideas like this always have, what I call, inspirers. The people who can lift performance to a new level, and bring passion and spirit along with their ideas. The inspirer of the Panini Project is Kristian Still, course leader for the BTEC National in Sport at Taunton’s College. This project gives Kristian’s students a mighty challenge: “22 teams, 16 shirts, 352 ecstatic footballers”. This is a challenge they can only meet with creativity and determination and you can track their progress on the website. Manchester City certainly needs a boost! In support of his students, Kristian has put together technology (a Wiki) and the belief that we can make the world better one person at a time.

Wouldn’t a global network of Panini Projects bringing in other codes be fantastic?