John Brunton, a trustee of the NE youth team North Shields Juniors’ AFC and a long-time supporter of the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, recently travelled to Cape Town to deliver over 120 kilos of football kit to young people.
John was shocked by the poverty of the townships, leading him to launch an even bigger drive to bring more football kit to South Africa.
“These children have nothing at all, no water or electricity, let alone shirts or boots – so they were very appreciative and kept asking if we would be bringing more. So, I’ve spoken to the other trustees of North Shields Juniors and we’ve agreed to put out a call to every club in the Northumberland and North Tyneside Football Associations, asking if they will donate all unwanted kit and we’ll be making another tip out to South Africa next year.”
John and his wife took two days out of their holiday to deliver several sack-loads of equipment to children in the Gugelethu and Khayelitsha townships.
John said “Visiting the townships was a real eye-opener, they looked like scrap yards. It was very, very distressing. The people there need to be helped. I couldn’t believe the level of poverty. Around 70% of people in the townships we visited had no electricity and were living in tin shacks with no toilets. Yet everyone we bumped into seemed happy, polite and smiling."
"Every year at the club we have lots of unwanted kit because new strips have been bought and children outgrow their kit. Over the last few years we have sent stuff to Iran, Iraq, Bosnia and Uganda, but we’re never sure if it actually gets to where we want it to go.”
“When my wife June and I found out we were going to South Africa for my cousin’s wedding, we thought we’d take any kit we’d collected over the year ourselves and actually hand deliver it. I got in touch with a company called Anduela Sports and they arranged to meet us and take us to the townships.”
“When we went through immigration with all of the sacks, a customs officer came over and said we were doing a really good thing because helping children to play football keeps them away from committing crimes.”
John plans to spend three days in South Africa next year, personally delivering shirts, boots, tracksuits and other sports equipment the region’s FA clubs donates.
"It has really bothered us since we got back. So, next year, we want to be able to fill a whole shipping container to ship out and I’ll spend a day in each of the three townships handing it out. “
“I don’t know how much sports kit we’ll need. It must be thousands of shirts, but if every club responds in the way North Shields Juniors did - they amassed 120 kilos of second-hand kit on their own – we should manage it. After all, it’s kit that otherwise goes to waste.”
To find out more about the appeal and if you have any kit to donate, please visit North Shields Juniors’ website.
Featured image: Gugelethu Pirates under 17's with their Show Racism the Red Card t-shirts!