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Football United: Fields Of Their Dreams

In the summer of 2008 in South Africa, two hundred fifty-six kids, boys and girls, aged from 13 - 19, on sixteen teams, were participating in a two-day football tournament. The games were played in a village hours away from major cities, in a remote area of the country.

Thousands of spectators were cheering the children, who were dressed in donated uniforms, in the colors of Sweden and France and Italy, running around, scoring and jumping up and down. People sang and danced throughout the tournament and the community used the event to celebrate life.

The sound of giggles and cheers exhibited the true essence of what football (soccer in America) represented for two brothers. At 14 and 16 they began a movement that became “FUNDaFIELD.”

Along the way, the two young football enthusiasts, Garrett and Kyle Weiss from Danville, California, a suburb of San Francisco, managed to get major corporations to sponsor different aspects of the inauguration of two football fields in the Hluvukani area of South Africa, in places called Manyanga and Mdluli. Coke, Eurosport, and others lent a hand and a project that started 20 months earlier now had delivered the first football fields from Danville to Africa.

Kyle (15) explained his thoughts of the inauguration: “My feelings were incredible…before that day everything was an idea, something far away. Once it happened, it was real and when we stepped onto  the field we felt like we had made a difference - a sense that is indescribable. We had done good deeds for others. We got on the field and had fun playing with them. The uniforms were awesome…”

In June of 2008, Garrett and Kyle spent four days celebrating, playing and then working at the village. They joined forces with “Student Movement for Real Change“, an organization dedicated to work with young leaders to educate youth in Africa. During those days in June, Garrett and Kyle helped to educate the kids about HIV and AIDS and work with them on their English skills.

It was football, though, that brought them all together. Building two football fields on the other side of the world by a group of high school teenagers is indeed impressive. One might wonder how much would that costs.

Garrett explained, “Each of these fields cost $18,000 to build.  We opened two fields in South Africa last year and this summer we are opening two more in northern Uganda. Northern Uganda’s infrastructure was destroyed during their civil war.  In Kampala, the capital, we are opening a full soccer (football) field. In Gulu, it will be a street field - like a basketball court, but softer, with a scorecard. We will hold a two-day and a one-day tournament there.” 

 June 21 2006, Leipzig, Germany, Iran vs. Angola, World Cup Match

It all started one warm summer afternoon in Germany, where Garret and Kyle, together with their parents, watched a World Cup match in Leipzig Germany.

“World Cup is the most passionate event and my parents and brother and I were there to attend as many games as we could.” Garrett explained.  “At the 2006 World Cup games in Germany we walked to our seats at the Leipzig Stadium and were immediately struck by the passion for soccer that was shared throughout the stadium. Everywhere we looked, fans were going crazy, banging their drums and blowing their horns.

"My family and I were extremely fortunate to attend this World Cup game featuring Angola and Iran. The atmosphere of the game was more than exciting, it was breath-taking. As we began our descent to our seats, you could not help but notice the massive sea of Iranian fans, green and red flooding the stadium. And then, way over in the corner we saw a very small section of red shirts and Angolan flags. We knew about poverty and AIDS in many parts of Africa, but these fans started to talk about civil war that divided their country for 26 years.”

After the match, Garrett and Kyle wanted to help kids in Africa to enjoy the game of soccer. They decided to send footballs and uniforms to Africa but had no idea where to start.

FUNDaFIELD was then born.

Garrett recalled, “After the world cup, when we returned home to Danville, we saw all these soccer fields that we were playing in and realized that soccer fields are the key to making a difference. The idea of “FUND a FIELD” was born with a one page web site on the internet.”

Kyle added, “We asked our high school soccer team to chip in and we collected one hundred dollars. A couple of soccer teams donated more and in a short time people trusted us and we raised a thousand dollars. We decided to continue on and in March of 2007 we received the non-profit status (510c3). We knew politically South Africa was the most stable of all countries in Africa and started sending emails to different people asking for help.

"That is how we met Saul Garlick and the Students Movement for Real Change in South Africa. That organization built schools and did water projects in South Africa and Kenya. We took our idea of building football fields to them. We decided on the two extremely rural areas of high schools in South Africa where Saul and his group were working there to help the high school kids. Due to a water shortage, we had to make the fields from sand and clay, but used normal field lines, goals, scoreboards, facilities and equipment.”

When Garrett and Kyle were asked what their ultimate goal with their organization was, they replied: “Build as many fields we can in Africa. We are building two in Uganda this summer. Next, we will probably be building fields in Sierra Leone, then Zambia, then Nigeria and more in South Africa.”

Spring of 2009, Northern California

 “FUNDaFIELD” is in a different stage these days.  Twenty-seven high school and middle school kids from Danville and San Ramon, California, devote time to raise money for building football fields. Corporations are contributing to the cause with material and cash. During the inauguration celebrations of June 2008, the assistant coach of the South African National team joined the festivities. Brandi Chastain and other soccer celebrities in the U.S. have taken notice.

Garrett is about to graduate from high school and along with many other fellow “FUNDaFIELD” members, plans to continue helping out once he goes to college.

 Kyle, now a sophomore in high school, will take over from his brother as the CEO of the organization.

What started as watching a World Cup match in Leipzig, Germany has turned into an organization where kids from two different continents, of dissimilar social and economical status, work and learn with and from each other.

The beautiful game of football is one of many different ways to bring people together and these young men from Northern California have found soccer to be a bridge builder with kids in Africa. It enables them to all learn about each other and their cultures.

Kaveh Mahjoob,

Kaveh Mahjoob is the Chief Editor of's Persian edition