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Ryan P. Smith



Washington D.C. March 20th, 2023

At its most basic level, Fireball Extreme Challenge™ (FXC) is a fun, action-packed form of competition that offers participants of all gender identities an equal chance to contribute. Requiring only a spherical ball to pass around and a rectangular play area, the sport is supremely accessible, and with its emphasis on rapid-fire passing and repositioning, it makes for excellent exercise too.

But there is much more to FXC than spectacle and scorekeeping. Indeed, as a comprehensive program, FXC’s true ambition is to nourish thoughtful, all-inclusive collaboration towards a common goal — something that’s absolutely essential for up-and-coming community members as they choose their paths in life and set about changing the world for the better.

These values were shared by Lucia Grenna, the visionary founder of Connect4Climate (C4C), whose unwavering belief in a better future allowed C4C to grow into the vast network of interconnected climate partners it is today. Now, in Lucia’s memory, FXC is delighted to announce the Lucia Grenna Unity & Sustainability Through Sport Award, which will bring Fireball’s signature blend of camaraderie and sustainability to communities around the world in an exciting new way.

Each Award will recognize a unique individual, private-sector company or NGO doing vital work to bring tangible, sustainable changes to their region of the world. In collaboration with Earth Day Italy Onlus and the Associazione Italiana Cultura e Sport, FXC will present the award during the 2023 Village for the Earth in Rome.

Each winning sustainability project will get the chance to ramp up its efforts on the ground — but there’s a twist! The members of the local community will have to earn funding for the project by coming together for a dedicated Fireball tournament, in which they’ll need to set aside their differences to unlock money for the cause through their active engagement. These funds will feed future community-based activities, creating a positive feedback loop and building valuable momentum.

“One pass, one point” has always been a core tenet of Fireball Extreme Challenge™: every time a player passes the ball, they earn a point for their team. The Lucia Grenna Award expands this concept to “One pass, one point, one dollar” (or Euro), such that whenever a player passes the ball in one of these special tournaments, they will not only notch up a point for their team, but also a dollar in funding for their local winner of the Award! These tournaments will enable FXC to channel its sponsorship money directly into worthy causes all over the world while simultaneously empowering local communities to band together and commit their collective energy to driving sustainable development.

The first initiative to be funded in this way was the construction of a water well on Koome Island in Lake Victoria — a project benefitting the local Ugandan community, which adopted FXC in fall 2022.

Beyond the tournaments themselves, community members will also be invited to support their cause by donating a percentage of their daily spending, contributing a bit with every purchase via a mobile app such as iSponsor.

The communities who rack up the most collective funding for their local Award winners will have a shot at a bonus jackpot too. But, at the end of the day, everybody wins: these tournaments will create new friendships and partnerships and build invaluable momentum on urgently needed efforts, uniting communities under the banner of sustainability and providing a fulfilling athletic experience in the process.

The FXC Federation and the FXC Organization can’t wait to announce the first winner of the Award and remember Lucia Grenna in this galvanizing, all-inclusive way.

Have a local sustainability project in mind that you’d like to let FXC know about? Email us at


What is FXC - Fireball Extreme Challenge™? Watch the tutorials below.

FXC Tutorials in english below


Devoted mother of four, a great motivator and a real visionary with the power of ‘making the impossible possible’, Lucia Grenna was the founder and driving force of Connect4Climate, the unit specializing in Communication for Climate Change at the World Bank Group’s Global Engagement division.

With her extensive experience in development communication, Lucia realized that communication for climate action would be key to advancing the climate movement, promoting the solutions necessary and motivating the political leadership needed to build a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future. She made it her mission to build a social movement for climate action by raising awareness of the impact of climate change and promoting the solutions for addressing it. She worked with partners across the globe to reach the greatest audience possible, especially young people.

In 2009 she convinced the World Bank and the Italian Ministry of Environment that climate communication was critical and well worth supporting and established the Communication for Climate Change Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the World Bank. In 2011 the flagship global partnership program Connect4Climate was born. It quickly took hold, gathering half a million Facebook followers and forging ties with leaders in popular culture – including music, film and fashion icons – to reach the generations of the future while at the same time helping scientists, politicians, and administrators raise awareness and prompt action.

Before moving to work with the World Bank, Lucia was the task manager for the First World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD, Rome 2006) that brought together over 800 communication professionals engaged in development initiatives, policy-and decision-making, NGOs, community representatives, and academics to discuss how to mainstream development communication into development policies and practice.

Lucia was a unique and influential presence who could mix with anyone, anywhere, gain their attention and advance proposals for seemingly impossible initiatives. Who but Lucia could have brought together an unusual group of partners to orchestrate the historical projection of massive climate-related images on the front of the Vatican, reminding a worldwide audience of our responsibility to protecting the Planet? Her example and legacy will never be forgotten.


Ryan Patrick Smith graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Science, Technology & Society and now writes for the World Bank’s Connect4Climate team and is a longtime contributor to Smithsonian Magazine. In his free time, he enjoys screenwriting, moviegoing, and crossword puzzle construction.

Ryan Patrick Smith's past articles on FXC:


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