Boots2Africa co-founder Iain Finch has called upon local clubs and leagues to start their own ‘preloved’ football boot collections as his Essex “micro-charity” continue their mission to re-distribute one million pairs by 2030.
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's minimal overheads are met by financial donations, transporting and distributing them to Africa's children and young adults through relief organisations.
Finch explained: "It's been a tricky year, but now grassroots football is recovering we would be grateful for support with pre-season donation events at member clubs around the county. We're calling for donations of boots and astros, kits, sports bras and accessories, clean and in good condition. We're now well over 18,000 boots donated.”
“10,000+ of these have come from Essex, and we've also received over 60,000 items of donated kit. These have so far been used to support safer youth and adult football, rugby and netball in 68 beneficiary organisations in 18 African countries, Tibet and Kiribati. We're very proud to say this includes participation by women and disabled athletes, too."
“But 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.”
“The cost of shipping and customs is borne by the beneficiary, all but guaranteeing that the donated boots and kits will arrive safely and will be used properly by their supported clubs, schools, sports academies, orphanages and community organisations.”
Boots2Africa began in the summer of 2016 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.
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 by visiting their website. 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, Canvey Island, Chelmsford City Ladies, Coggeshall Town, Colchester & District Youth League, Colchester Town Ladies, Colchester United, Collier Row, Eight Ash Green, Elmden Rovers, 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, Leigh Ramblers, 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, White Ensign, Wivenhoe Tempest, Wivenhoe Town, Wormingford Wanderers, Yeldham Tigers