DARIEN - A resident of Darien has developed a unique program to provide soccer balls and equipment to children in Iraq.

Lt. Daniel Merritt, a graduate of Darien High School, started the program Operation Soccer Ball, which has collected thousands of soccer balls to donate to poor children in Iraq. According to Merritt, the sport is extremely popular there, despite the fact that many children learn to play using rocks. When he arrived as a soldier in Iraq, he was struck by how many children loved the sport.

At an event held on Sunday at Darien High School, hundreds of residents attended, with soccer equipment in hand to donate.

?There are no borders in soccer and the language barrier is immediately gone,? Merritt says.