Giggs is good, but Stammler is exceptional
Saturday 26 December 2009
As John Terry has reminded us again, one of the reasons for the canonisation of Ryan Giggs is that he has avoided scandal during his long and distinguished career. So low are expectations of our sports stars merely not being naughty establishes one as a role model.
Which is why a quote from Seth Stammler stuck out when I came across it this week. Who? Stammler, a 28-year-old Ohioan, plays in midfield for the New York Red Bulls. Three years ago he visited Haiti with the musician Wyclef Jean and Haitian-descended team-mates including Jozy Altidore, now at Hull. Stammler was shocked at the poverty he saw, notably children walking miles, several times a day, to fetch tubs of drinking water for their families, and the discovery that many of the latter could not afford the US$60 annual fee to send those children to school.
Stammler subsequently helped create the non-profit Sporting Chance Foundation with the emphasis on providing accessible wells, and education scholarships. To date the foundation has raised $100,000, providing a water station supplying 10,000 Haitians and 60 school scholarships. This is not, incidentally, a case of a millionaire fund-raising when he could more effectively, and less publicly, put his hand in his own pocket. Stammler, now in the prime of his career, was paid $118,000 (£74,000) last year.
"Little by little, we hope to improve things," Stammler told the New York Times. "We could have done clothes distribution or soccer shoe collection, but I wanted something long-term."
He added: "At home, we train hard and take soccer very seriously, but we have a lot of down time. As athletes, we can make a difference because we have the public's attention. It should be expected of us."
Now there's a thought for dressing rooms to ponder at Christmas time.
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