Suffolk mother's match of the day

FOOTBALL-MAD youngsters from an impoverished South African township will soon be wearing kit from places like Leiston, Woodbridge and Halesworth.Leiston mother-of-three Jenni Fleetwood, 57, appealed for help from schoolchildren and other organisations after seeing the youngsters trying to play in over-sized shirts and no boots.

FOOTBALL-MAD youngsters from an impoverished South African township will soon be wearing kit from places like Leiston, Woodbridge and Halesworth.

Leiston mother-of-three Jenni Fleetwood, 57, appealed for help from schoolchildren and other organisations after seeing the youngsters trying to play in over-sized shirts and no boots.

Mrs Fleetwood is a frequent visitor to a South African township or "informal settlement" called Imizamo Yethu near Cape Town, and helps run a paper-making project there.

The project brings together local women, who recycle paper from waste paper and from an invasive weed which grows locally. They also make greetings cards from the recycled paper, and recycle used plastic bags to make woven handbags. The products are sold all over the world.


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Mrs Fleetwood was born in England but grew up in South Africa. She and her husband raised their family in England until Apartheid ended, and always wanted to return.

Two and a half years ago, she was looking for outreach work in South Africa when she was offered the job of helping to run the papermaking project with another woman, Jean Fairhead.

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"We started off with just using a tin bath, a stick from the woodpile and wash lines, but that was obviously very unsatisfactory because if it was windy the paper blew away and if it rained it disintegrated, and if neither of those things happened the wash line would get nicked," she said.

They were given financial aid by the American consulate and are now in their own workshop.

"Working with the township you become very aware of the fact that there are a lot of young men who are unemployed and children as well who really have nothing to do. There's no real entertainment facilities or anything and they can't afford such facilities as the suburb itself offers, so it was decided a football league should be started," she explained.

Around 26 teams aged up to 18 now play, and will benefit from the donated kits.

Pupils from Halesworth and Leiston middle schools collected 50 pairs of football boots to send to the youngsters, and Leiston Football Club has donated eight complete sets of strips, with individuals giving socks and shin guards. Woodbridge School pupils also provided football kit, and Rossall School in Lancashire gave boots and 22 shirts. Leiston sports centre would not help with football kit but donated swimming goggles for township swimming teams. The Ipswich branch of DHL International agreed to fly the consignment to Cape Town free of charge.

Anyone wanting to help Mrs Fleetwood's second appeal for kit towards the end of 2004 can email her to jennifleetwood@aol.com.

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