Exmouth Journal readers make dreams come true after soccer shirt appeal
PUBLISHED: 12:30 12 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:16 15 November 2016
A couple's appeal in the Exmouth Journal for football shirts to be delivered to villages in East Africa, enjoyed 'an amazing' response.
Jan Hardy, who lives in Lympstone, and made the appeal in September, a few weeks before she travelled to Tanzania, said she was stunned by how many people had come forward to help.
Lympstone FC, Budleigh Salterton FC, Exmouth United FC and individuals all donated shirts. Exmouth Community College gave shirts, as well as new footballs and whistles.
A local businessman, Liam Ellis, who runs a roofing company, bought a new strip and provided pumps for the footballs.
Said Jan: “We were so pleased with the response. We were able to take four strips out with us to Tanzania and they have all been distributed to local villages, where a soccer league has been created. More shirts will be going out before Christmas.”
In October, Jan and her husband, Pete, travelled to an island in Lake Tanganyika, where the owners are working with neighbouring villages to improve their standard of living.
Said Jan: “It appears that football is an international language that crosses all borders. Although they don’t have TVs, they listen to football on their battery radios and watch TV whenever they can visit some of the bigger towns.”
Jan explained that a team made up of employees from the island had travelled to a neighbouring island and played a match in 30 degrees of heat on their dirt pitch which had a significant slope. The locals won 5 -1.
Belinda Lithgow, who runs the island resort of Lupita, has set up a local league with the help of her partner, Dave Gayner, who is a qualified referee in the Bristol area.
The couple are returning to the UK later this month and will be visiting Lympstone to collect more of the shirts.
Jan said that Mr Tony Alexander, the principal at Exmouth Community College, had been particularly helpful and wanted to go further in helping the villagers.
Jan and Pete are discussing whether a further appeal can be made with something like secondhand bikes.
Jan said: “This would involve a lot of logistics and would be far more difficult to organise than taking cases of shirts. I want to thank all those people who answered our appeal. It was great to see the faces of the villagers who just couldn’t believe we were giving them the shirts for free.”