An Essex “micro-charity” whose mission is to collect ‘preloved’ football boots for re-distribution has set an ambitious target of one million pairs by 2030, and Boots2Africa co-founder Iain Finch has called upon local clubs and leagues to start their own collections.
Millions of children across Africa have no footwear for school, life and playing games. Disease, infections and snakebites kill thousands and injure and incapacitate many every year, while others struggle physically and needlessly because of illness caused from infections of the foot. Both adult and youth boots are required by the charity, with adult sizes particularly welcomed.
Thousands of children in ‘first world’ countries discard their boots at the end of each season, and most pairs are adaptable to life in bush towns and urban settlements. Boots2Africa overheads are met by financial donations, transporting and distributing them to Africa's children and young adults through relief organisations.
Finch explained: “We need more clubs to arrange collections, whether that be at matches or training, or even by having a bin at their club base all year round. Please find your local boot bin! The boots need to be of an acceptable quality - as a general rule I always ask people if they would gift them to their own child. We sometimes struggle to find the adult sizes.”
Boots2Africa began when Iain and his family saw a photo of two boys in Malawi playing football barefoot with a coconut next to an unsafe field. Straight away they sorted through their garage and identified 38 pairs of boots they could donate. From there their collection began, and they’re now aiming to ship one million pairs by 2030.
The activities of Boots2Africa also prevents more plastic going into landfill. The Essex County FA have previously donated training and match kit from representative teams and arranged collections at events and festivals, as have many clubs and leagues. A recent shipment of kit saw local players stage a mock ‘Stanway Rovers vs Stanway Villa Derby’ in kit donated by the two clubs!
Iain continued: “While children tend to grow out of their boots quickly and discard more pairs, adults tend to use theirs until they’re unwearable. As well as boots, we also accept kit, which has been a growing area for us recently. Essex has been an incredible source of boots so far… and we’re hoping to hit that target of one million pairs!”
Find out more about the work of Boots2Africa at www.boots2africa.co.uk. You can also interact with @Boots2Africa and @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and encourage players to #BringOnePair to a local collection, where Iain Finch can arrange for them to be picked-up.
Boots2Africa Supporters: Alresford Colne Rangers, Billericay Town, Bowers & Pitsea, Brightlingsea Regent, Buckhurst Hill, Chelmsford City Ladies, Coggeshall Town, Colchester & District Youth League, Colchester Town Ladies, Colchester United, Collier Row, Eight Ash Green, Essex Referees Association, FC Clacton, Feering Falcons, Frinton & Walton, GFA Loughton, Gidea Park Rangers, Great Bentley, Great Wakering Colts, Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Peverel, Hedinghams United, Heybridge Swifts, Hullbridge Sports, Hutton, Lawford, Little Oakley, Maldon & Tiptree, Newham Athletic, Ramsey United, Rowhedge, Sokretez, Southend Sports, Southend United, Southendian Manor, Sporting 77, Springfield, Stanway Rovers, Stanway Villa, Tiptree Jobserve, Valley Green, Wivenhoe Tempest, Wivenhoe Town