10 year-old Mac Millar is a Brisbane soccer fan with a plan – and helping children in Afghanistan is only the start of his journey.
Most 10 year-olds are more worried about kicking goals on the field than international charity, but Mac Millar has got both set firmly in his sights.
“I love playing soccer. I play for Brisbane City Football Club in the Under 11’s Academy team and one day I want to play for Australia in the Socceroos and for Manchester United,” says Mac. “My mum came back from a conference one day which included the ‘power of the internet’ and she asked me, if I had the opportunity to have a website, what would it be about?
“That started me thinking…what’s something good I can do? Who can I help? I love playing soccer and I think that all kids should have the opportunity to play the game that I love too.”
Mac’s website raises money for his soccer-themed charity that sends balls to some of the world’s poorest countries for underprivileged children to play with.
“We Googled ‘who are the poorest children in the world?’ and Afghanistan came up in the top five,” says Mac. “At the time there was a lot on the news about the war in Afghanistan and sadly, we often saw children in the war zone caught in between fighting soldiers. The children were playing in the dirt with no balls or toys. I found it hard to watch this. Also, I have a mate at soccer, Omar, from Afghanistan and he really inspired me.
“I got up off the couch and said ‘Mum, I know what I want my website to be about and where I want to send the balls.’ This is how my story began.”
The results of Mac’s project are proving successful already, with kids in Afganistan, Cambodia, Manus Island and Nauru very excited to receive their soccer balls.
“There was a reporter in Afghanistan when the soccer balls were delivered to the kids of Tarin Kot – the footage is amazing,” says Mac. “The kids were so happy to get the soccer balls. They just about knocked over the soldiers.
“Major Annette West from the Salvation Army has taken soccer balls to the kids in detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. She couldn’t take photos of the kids, but she’s told me lots of stories about how happy the balls have made the kids; even about how much they laughed when the balls land on the roof.”
Mac manages to balance his schoolwork, soccer practice and charity work with lots of help from his mum and ‘Poppa’.
“We sit down and talk about where I want to send the soccer balls to next. Sometimes I send emails and then Mum and Poppa usually make the phone calls when I’m at school,” says Mac. “On Saturdays I always have a [soccer] game, but we work on Football – Play It Forward a lot on Sundays. I love doing lots of public speaking at Rotary Clubs and different things like that too, so I practise my speeches a lot too.”
After learning plenty about websites and emails, Mac’s looking to grow the movement and has now written a book about his amazing charity effort.
“Over the school holidays I was telling someone about my project and they said ‘You could write a book about that’, so I did,” says Mac. “The reason why I wrote this book is to tell as many people as possible about my project so I can raise more money to buy more soccer balls. I need more soccer balls because I’ve got lots of plans for what I want to do next.”
These plans include working with the Australian Federal Police to send soccer balls with Aussie Peacekeepers around the world, having the Socceroos take balls to Brazil for distribution to the poor communities there, and sending soccer balls to the kids of Syria.
“While we can’t get soccer balls into the country, there are many Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan,” says Mac. “Poppa is talking to the United Nations to see if they will help us to distribute soccer balls to these refugee camps.
“My friends think it’s pretty cool. I took the book into school today and 12 of my mates are bringing money to buy one tomorrow,” says Mac. “People have told me it’s inspired their kids to think about what they can do to help others too. This last year has been fun.”