An appeal has been launched by a football club and a haulage firm from Mildenhall for football boots and shoes for school children in Africa.
Mildenhall Town Football Club and Carry Express Services have joined forces in a bid to collect the goods for children in The Gambia.
Moves to set up the appeal were made after a number of old kits were handed over by officials at the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side and distributed by the haulage firm’s boss Cary Ceesay, who is originally from The Gambia, to children in the West African country earlier this month.
“We had these old kits at the club and I asked Cary, who we have got to know through doing some export work with him, if he wanted to give them to the schools back home and he was more than delighted,” said Bill Flynn, Mildenhall Town FC vice-chairman and managing director of Safepac International.
“In this country people throw everything away and these kits have made those boys’ world.
“It was quite emotional seeing the pictures come back from the school and It was very uplifting.
“One thing we noticed is that a lot of the children have not got any boots or shoes and what we want to do now is press ahead to get this circulated in the area to start a collection for them.
“We are more than happy to store it here at Safepac until it all gets shipped out. I imagine there are other clubs out there who have old kits piled up in kit rooms so if people want to donate kits we will take them, too.”
As for Cary, who has lived in England for 25 years, he knows just how much this appeal will mean to the youngsters if it proves to take off and be a success.
“I have been sending stuff back home for a number of years to help people at schools but when Bill (Flynn) came to me with the kits and asked if I wanted them I was more than happy to take them as so many schools have never had a football kit,” said Cary.
“When I handed them out when I went back the children were over the moon and couldn’t believe there eyes.
“If we can collect football boots you have no idea what it would mean to them as many have to play football in their feet or socks. They would not only wear them to play sport but to walk in the street. It would be amazing.
“Little things like this we take for granted here are like a lifeline for those kids out there.”
Anyone wishing to donate football boots, old kits or sports shoes and clothes can drop them off at Safepac International, in Field Road, Mildenhall.