A labour of love - 10,000 pairs of football boots sent to African children by Colchester group
PUBLISHED: 19:00 26 April 2019
Years of hard work and a labour of love has led one Colchester charity to donate more than 10,000 pairs of boots to children in Africa.
Colchester-based charity Boots2Africa started as a bright idea on a Sunday afternoon in 2016.
It has since grown into a project that keeps co-founder Iain Finch and his family extremely busy.
In April, donations at Colchester United's Community Stadium and grassroots team Loughton AFC saw the total number of donated pairs tip over the 10,000 milestone.
Mr Finch said: “It all started when I saw a picture.
“It was two children in Africa, playing football barefoot with a coconut next to a field full of snakes.
“There are 10,000 children a year affected by snakebites and infections of the foot in Africa, which can be solved by them simply having something to put on their feet.
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“I cleared out the garage and found 38 pairs of football boots between my two boys which they had built up over the years.
“I just thought, we can fix that.
“I went out to the garage where my boys kept their boots to see what we could do about it and it's just snowballed from there.”
Mr Finch estimates there are approximately 350,000 children of school age in Essex and Suffolk, with more than 25,000 children playing football for clubs across the two counties every weekend.
Dozens of grassroots football clubs have now donated pairs to Boots2Africa from across East Anglia and as far afield as East London. The charity has also been supported by Suffolk FA in the past in a bid to drive up the number of boots that can be given to children in need.
One of their most recent donations came at the Easter Monday game at Portman Road that saw Ipswich lose to Swansea City 1-0 - but Mr Finch, joined by club legend Russell Osman, walked away from the day with another 87 pairs of boots and astros, as well as bags of kit.
Regular trips to professional clubs like Ipswich Town and Colchester United on matchdays provide a stream of boots for the cause, helping the team reach their goal of 1,000,000 pairs of boots sent of Africa by 2030.
The charity will be at Billericay Town FC's next home match at the New Lodge on April 27.
If you would like to get in contact with Iain and the team, call 07913 248028 or email firstname.lastname@example.org