Partnering is a challenge when partners are  in the same city or even the same country. Partnering is a major challenge when partners are on different continents & speak different languages & come from different cultures & are in different & difficult circumstances.

Last year Ball Project made a grant to a partner in Liberia who bought some jerseys using 60% of the grant. Ball Project funds are to be used only for balls, cones, nets, goals, whistles & pumps but not shoes, jerseys, shirts or uniforms.

Mistakes happen. Miscommunication happens all the time in the best of situations. Fortunately our partner was able to return the jerseys & used those funds to buy balls.

Below you can see some of the correspondence between Ball Project & one of our key global facilitators who was managing this grant.

I continue to be grateful for all that I am learning & for all of our great partners who are doing their best get balls into communities to help children play.


Subject: RE: Ball Project: Need your guidance

This isn’t the 1st time & won’t be the last time this happens.

Jerseys, uniforms, boots & kit are valuable but not essential. Identity & belonging are very valuable; I understand that. The point is to focus on what is essential for the work (as you pointed out). Balls are essential.

These things happen. It’s a shame he spent so much on jerseys & so little on balls. All the other expenses are fine. Cones, whistles, nets & a pump are good & helpful as well; they allow practice & tournaments & leagues to happen & projects to be run in a more professional way.

Lots of organizations buy clothes for people & that is why Ball Project does what it does.

These things happen. Missed opportunity; there are always more opportunities.

Subject: Ball Project: Need your guidance

See the attached photos and receipt Liberia.

I wrote to him, and he then replied.

Can you tell me how you want me to respond?

From: Liberia
Subject: Fw: Reciepts and pictures of purchase items


Thanks for your Advice. Firstly I want to mention here that the reason for buying the Jerseys had to do unifying the kids. Every kid in our community will feel excited that they part of something. By being unified, it draws more attention to the Game. With the Balls we can bring the people (Kids) together And with the Jerseys, we can Keep them together. However, if you will love that we get more balls, then we can still get to the vendor and exchange it, since in fact we dealt with the same vendor for all purchases.

My understanding of sport Equipments was perhaps misunderstood and that is why we thought to get two sets of Jersey. One for the boys and one for the girls.

Notwithstanding, I am sorry that this brought about some embarrassment.

I prayed that we built a more stronger partnership and such misunderstanding will be avoided in the future.

Below are the breakdown for the $500.00 sent for the BALL PROJECT:

ITEM(S)                                         UNIT COST                            TOTAL

1.    TWO SETS OF JERSEY===  $150.00 USD                             $300.00 USD

2.     BIBS================    $  40.00 USD                             $  40.00 USD

3.      PUMP===============    $  10.00 USD                            $  10.00 USD

4.      NET=================   $   50.00 USD                           $  40.00 USD

5.      BALLS===============   $   30.00 USD                           $  90.00 USD

6.      WISTLES=============    $    5.00 USD                            $ 10.00 USD

TOTAL=========================================    $ 500.00 USD


Subject: RE: Reciepts and pictures of purchase items

Thank you for sending the receipt and photos.

Can you give me a breakdown of the cost for each item? – Jerseys, each balls, bibs, pump, whistle.

But you obviously did not understand the conditions stipulated in the grant agreement – see Point 4. It said balls and sports equipment (nets and goals). It does not include jerseys.

“By receiving funds from Ball Project, you commit to using the funds to buy sport balls and/or sports equipment (nets, goals) for use in your community/work/project(s) to help children play.”

Can you explain why you bought the jerseys?

What will you do with the soccer jerseys once the 3 balls are gone?

The purpose of the grant is so that you can buy as many balls because projects happen when your sport leaders and coaches have balls to use in their programs. Having jerseys but ZERO balls does not help programs take place.

Am I making sense? I would love to understand your perspective.

Please view this as a mentoring/coaching conversation. I ask these questions because I want to understand your reasoning as well as give you some guidance.

Subject: Reciepts and pictures of purchase items

Thanks for your supports in financing the Ball Project here in Liberia. I received the amount yesterday and did the purchasing of two sets of jersey, 3 balls, one net, one set of practicing bits, one ball pump, and one whistle .
We will hopefully by the end of July; host a one day “Ball Project” tournament, and hopefully will be sending you updates.

Any thoughts or comments?

New soccer balls in Liberia

New soccer balls in Liberia