Oak Bay’s Max Palmer, 11, and his mom Jacqueline Quinless plan to live out of their carry-on luggage during a two-week trip to Ghana.
The plan to forgo their checked bags was Max’s idea, says Quinless. Yet another cog in his plan to bring soccer gear, or football as they call it there, to a little school in Jinjini.
This is a work trip for Quinless, a sociologist who will research socioeconomic development and micro lending with indigenous women in the country. “He often accompanies me on my work trips,” she said.
It’s his fourth time headed overseas and his fourth time completing a learning journal to get a pass from his usual classes at Maria Montessori School. This time, he’s added a little philanthropy to his personal lesson plan.
“He’s learning some big words such as ethnocentrism,” Quinless said, pride evident in her tone.
In order to not judge their culture by imposing North American values, Max sought information from the region. After chatting with his mom’s co-worker, who is from Ghana and knows the town of Jinjini, they asked an area elementary school what they might want that Max could bring.
The answer of ‘football’ gear fit right in with Max’s longtime – for an 11-year-old – dedication to the sport as a Bays United player.
Max feels the sport offers fun, fitness, a little freedom and above all friendship.
“(This project) is going to let some of them grow up to be famous soccer players, or just enjoy it as long as they want to enjoy it,” he said.
The sport is also a way to connect, to create community. To keep that connection ongoing he created a Facebook page United in Football, and odds are his younger sister Kennedy, 8, could head that way with her own bags of gear in the next couple years.
“It’s going to be organic,” Quinless said.
So instead of checked luggage, they’ve nearly filled two athletic bags with donated deflated balls, cleats and assorted clothing – purchased with some of Max’s birthday money and donations garnered by word-of-mouth and through the Bays United organization.
They still have room to pack new or gently used jerseys, shorts and socks for youth aged 6 to 12.
Those interested in donating to the project can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The pair leaves May 9.