Football shirts on their way to Sierra Leone after social media appeal
Published on: 01 Aug 2016
DOZENS of colourful football shirts will soon be winging their way to youngsters in Sierra Leone thanks to the generosity of people living in the area.
The football shirts have been donated by kind-hearted people living in Downend, Bromley Heath and Emersons Green following a request on social media.
Kate Stuart, 31, took to Facebook after hearing about the plight of young children living in the African country from her brother Tom Urry, who works for a charity which runs several schools there.
He told Kate the children are football crazy but lack a proper sports kit they can be proud of.
Kate said: "Tom came back to the UK on a visit and asked my mum if she had his old football shirts. She said that I might know some people who have some so I asked on my local Facebook groups. As a result I was given absolutely loads, I have at least 50!
"We thought we might get five or ten and Tom could fit them in his luggage but we have so many now they will have to be shipped!"
The shirts will be used as a kit for one of the football team as well as providing prizes for the children.
Kate, who lives in Downend, said: "The children Tom works with are really impoverished. There are lots of fake shirts on the market but people can't afford them so to be given a genuine shirt from, say, Liverpool is just unbelievable for the children.
"I'm just amazed at the generosity of people. We had no idea we would get so many. A lot of parents have said their children have kept their old football shirts because they couldn't bear to part with them but they were quite happy to donate them to the cause.
"A local mum who'd already given us some shirts said that her mum would like to contribute to the shipping cost. She transferred the full amount! It was so generous of her." A large suitcase brimmed with the shirts, as well as some baby clothes and school books donated by Kate, will now be shipped to Sierra Leone and is expected to be ready for collection later this month.
Tom, 28, has worked for Planting Promise since February. The charity runs two schools, a nursery and primary in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, and a rural primary school in Rogboro village.
Tom said: "Like in any African country the children in Sierra Leone are hugely passionate about football. The entire country is mad on the premier league; we have a lot of Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal fans.
"The shirts will likely go to the rural school as they have a football pitch but lack a kit and footballs, which is something we are going to provide separately. Every single boy in the school plays football. They have regular matches with other teams from neighbouring villages but are usually playing in old tee-shirts, which is something they don't feel very proud of. To offer these kits is a way of really encouraging participation and making the children feel proud of playing sport.
"Kate did a great job of getting the message out there and it was obviously something which people really responded to. I was very touched by the level of support and was delighted at how generous people were."
Planting Promise is working to raise funds for the schools, particularly the rural school which is lacking in sanitation facilities.
Tom said: "The schools are providing free education in areas where children would most likely have no access to schools or would possibly be dropping out or missing years due to not being able to afford fees or not being able to afford uniform.
"The charity ensures that children, despite coming from very poor economic backgrounds, are able to attend school."
The charity also produces a porridge snack which is sold on the streets of Freetown. Profits go towards the running of the schools.