A story from Rayleigh Boys Football Club….
In June this year Rayleigh Boys Youth FC (RBYFC) began a campaign to collect football boots and football kit for both the Kromdraai and Blackhill-Schoongezicht schools in the Witbank area of South Africa.
This campaign began when a member of the RBYFC committee advised that the company he works for has built two schools in South Africa and handed them over to the South African Education Department. The clubs committee were advised that many of the children that attend these schools are from an underprivileged background, so much so that for many of the children attending the school it is also a way to getting a hot meal each day. The good infrastructure and facilities at the schools results in class sizes of up to 80, in classrooms typically designed for 35-40 children. The schools do their utmost to cope, assisted by from time to time by charitable donations.
It was brought to the attention of the committee that the two schools have a high number of young footballers passionate about the game, but their progress is being hindered by a severe lack of football kit, so much so, many of the players having to play in school uniform, school shoes, socks and bare feet.
RBYFC is a chartered standard, voluntary and community run club with over 30 football teams, many in the same age group as the South African school children above, and was touched by the hardship faced by these young footballers and although the club had very limited options in being able to help, the committee felt this was an opportunity for the club to collectively respond to a worthy cause no matter how small the contribution.
The club quickly decided that a substantial donation of RBYFC football jerseys for both mini soccer and eleven aside age groups was to be the first step, and at the same time appealed to the local parents to donate football boots and personal football kits in support of the campaign. The subsequent response has been very positive and a photo of the kit donated so far can be viewed on the RBYFC website.
As a way of recognising RBYFCs efforts, the two schools agreed that a match was to be played on Wednesday 13th August 2008 to coincide with a trip to South Africa previously planned by a member of the RBYFC committee, thereby being able to attend the game and personally deliver the donations.
The match played in the RBYFC team colours of Orange & Black was a close encounter, won by the Kromdraai School whose supporters celebrated as if it were the world cup final!
It was a great occasion, with an atmosphere made that much better by a large and very vocal children?s crowd singing, cheering and dancing with every goal scored like it was the world cup winning strike.
Kit or no kit, these underprivileged youngsters enjoyed playing the game with incredible enthusiasm and total commitment; they remain unaware of the humbling experience it provided several privileged onlookers.
Please view the photographs of the match on the RBYFC website at: www.rayleighboysyouthfc.org.uk
RBYFC intend to continue this campaign so please monitor their website as they will keep all interested parties abreast of any developments.