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Kent football club's kit for Kenya kids

Christmas has come early for youngsters at an African orphanage thanks to the generosity of fans and officials at Kent football club Tonbridge Angels ...

Christmas has come early for youngsters at an African orphanage thanks to the generosity of fans and officials at Kent football club Tonbridge Angels … writes David Watters

After spotting a skip full of damaged youth football strips from a flood at the Ryman Premier League club’s ground, Angels chaplain Neil Durling decided to find a home for them with Kisumu Children, a small Tonbridge-based Christian Charity dedicated to improving the lives of some of Kenya’s poorest children at their Cherry Brierley Childrens’ Home.

An appeal on the club’s forum for any more unwanted or discarded youth kit followed and after a flood of strip, boots, gloves and shin guards arrived at the Longmead Stadium from fans and the club’s youth coaches, hard-core Angels fans Colin Hill took charge to wash and press the donations, pictured, before organising delivery to Kenya by courier.

Angels chaplain Durling said: "In a world where we often hear the bad news about football I am delighted that a club of Tonbridge Angels' size can make such a massive difference for children thousands of miles away.

"I'm pleased to say that The Angels have made that difference for many children through the generosity of both coaching staff and fans and it all started with some old kit that was being thrown away and then with a little bit of imagination something good happened."

Hill added: "I was surprised just how much kit there was, there was enough to kit out several teams. It occurred to me if other kit - such things as goalie gloves, shin guards and proper football boots could be sent as well, a real difference could be made for the children’s experience of the game. An experience all our children take for granted but in Africa it is mostly just a dream with them having to play without kit of any kind and often in bare feet."

Kisumu Children also work within the local community on many development projects and like their 50-bed orphanage, all the charity's projects are run by dedicated local Kenyan staff.

The charity’s UK spokeswoman Alison Hills said: "This is amazing! I can’t tell you how excited the children will be. The children at the home love to play football at every opportunity and they now have the chance of playing it dressed in professional football kit. That they will be able to play as if members of a proper team for the first time is fantastic."

For more information on the charity visit www.kisumuchildren.org.uk.

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