News / Halifax

Having a ball: Halifax student's business brings soccer balls to Africa

Keegan McGinnis launched the My Greatest Play clothing line this past fall.

Third year Saint Mary's University student Keegan McGinnis started a clothing business that sees soccer balls sent to Africa for each item sold.

Zane Woodford/Metro Halifax

Third year Saint Mary's University student Keegan McGinnis started a clothing business that sees soccer balls sent to Africa for each item sold.

When Keegan McGinnis goes to Africa in April, he’ll definitely have a ball.  Or more than 100 of them.

My Greatest Play is his clothing line with a charitable side. For every item of clothing sold, a soccer ball is donated to a child in a developing country.

The third year Saint Mary’s University marketing student launched the business in October.

“It started out as a business that gave back to the local sporting community because I felt like I had taken a lot from sports in my life and it shaped me into who I am, and so I wanted to give back,” McGinnis recalled.

“As I got into looking into it, at some point I’d seen video of children in Africa playing with homemade soccer balls, essentially made out of garbage, and that was in the back of my mind.”

As he researched, McGinnis discovered he could make a big impact by implementing a one-for-one concept for his business. One article of clothing would equal one soccer ball donation.

He officially launched his business on Oct. 1, 2017.

“When I launched there was a month-long period where it was very busy. November was pretty quiet but December was pretty crazy because of the Christmas season,” he said.

“I figured once Christmas passed it would die off and I was prepared for a month or two with maybe only a few orders but that didn’t happen. It stayed steady from people spreading the word after getting them for Christmas.”

He has partnered with the Nova Scotia Gambia Association, whose youth members deliver peer-to-peer health education in that country. They now also bring soccer balls from Nova Scotia to some of the remote villages they visit.

So far McGinnis said My Greatest Play has donated more than 150 soccer balls. He expects to send at least another 100 before heading to The Gambia in western Africa this April to help hand deliver some of the soccer balls in person.

“It is really exciting. What’s happening there is the fun part of the business,” he said.

“Every part is fun, but I’m super excited to see the charitable side.”

He said he's proud of some of the “influencers” who support his business and wear his clothing. They include two former Big Brother contestants, NHLer Daniel Sprong (Pittsburgh) and Drake Batherson who played for Canada during the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

He is now looking for corporate sponsors. He’s working with a car dealership owner who plans to give an item of My Greatest Play clothing to each client who buys a car. That would include donating a soccer ball in the client’s name.

“My next step is looking at another African country besides The Gambia. If sales go boom and I’m donating 1,000 soccer balls at a time every month or two instead of 100 or 200, that’s too much to put on one group,” he said.

“I want to spread to other countries and find other opportunities. It might not seem like much for us, but when they get these soccer balls they are so overjoyed and grateful and it means so much.”

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