How A Hashtag Brought Together the Soccer Community

While the global outbreak of coronavirus has led to the postponing and complete cancelation of many different sporting events, many soccer players have – through social media – found a way to both keep themselves entertained as well as encourage others to maintain healthy practices.

433, an Instagram account that produces daily soccer-related content, created the #stayathomechallenge on March 14 to help its 26.7 million followers efficiently wash their hands. To successfully complete the challenge, one must apply soap and water to their hands and wash them for 20 seconds while juggling a soccer ball with their feet. In the same post, 433 also nominated three professional soccer players to attempt the challenge on their Instagram accounts, and followers were invited to share their attempts on their profiles as well. Since the hashtag’s creation, dozens of soccer players – including superstar Lionel Messi – and over 25,000 individuals have participated in the challenge, with many choosing to juggle a roll of toilet paper instead of a ball.

In such a time of self-isolation and social distancing, the internet yet again proves why it is such an integral part of our society. Something as simple as a hashtag is able to connect thousands of strangers and provide a distraction to all of the uncertainty and panic we are facing on a daily basis. At times, it can seem as though the internet revolves around advertising and politics. It can seem as though there’s no humanity on the internet or that online users are only thinking of themselves. But it is times like this when we realize how much more the internet can provide us with. It can create a sense of global community, and a sense that, amongst the billions of people on this planet, we are not truly alone. There are millions of people around the globe that face the same problems as us.

In any other circumstance, juggling a soccer ball or a roll of toilet paper with one’s feet may seem like a pointless pastime. Now? Now, it seems to be just what we need to take our mind off edge and, at the very least, remember to wash our hands.