Football charity smash target of 15,000 pairs of boots donated to African children
PUBLISHED: 16:30 12 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:33 12 July 2020
An Essex-based football charity has donated more than 15,000 pairs of boots to children in Africa – and has set its sights on giving even more vital kit this year.
Boots2Africa has collected boots and kit from clubs big and small across East Anglian for the last four years, including several collections at Ipswich Town and Colchester United.
Even in the face of a pandemic it has passed 15,000 pairs of boots donated to children in 17 African countries and Tibet – and that success has prompted them to expand into more items of kit.
As well as boots, shirts, shorts and socks, Boots2Africa are now collecting sports bras to allow more women’s football and rugby teams to train and compete properly.
Co-founder Iain Finch said: “We have a number of planned shipments out to beneficiary organisations in at least four countries this summer alone who have women and girls squads of all ages.
“Sports bras are an expensive but essential item out of reach for the great majority of players in all of the organisations we support.
“We just want them to play safely in good quality boots, kits and accessories including sports bras and be the best they can be.”
He added: “We’re amazed and very thankful for the generosity of players, parents and members of more than 180 clubs across Essex, East Anglia and the UK that have supported us since we had a good idea one Sunday morning four years ago.
“But now we need to step up and support the ever-increasing growth of women’s football and rugby in Africa, by not only supplying them with donations of kit and boots, but where it matters most for ladies and girls, with donations of good quality sports bras.”
While Covid-19 dealt a huge blow to the local and grassroots sporting calendar, Boots2Africa has continued building relationships with clubs across the region.
After the latest easing of the lockdown and it being safe to resume collecting donations, the first club to support the cause was AFC Kesgrave with 156 pairs of boots.
Mr Finch said: “Club, community and school empowerment is such an important element of our work.
“In the summer months, but sadly not this year so far, we attend regional club end of season and pre-season tournaments, organised and managed by the amazing grassroots football and rugby networks.
“Many also manage their own donation events throughout the season and when invited we also attend matchdays.
“Not only do you always get very generous support at these events with donations of personal boots and kits, but the people you meet are generally all connected to grassroots sports or community organisations or schools that can help.
“Covid-19 has sadly disrupted the flow both of donations coming in and of shipping to current and new beneficiaries.”
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