RAF team complete Kenyan shirts distributions
RAF personnel from Shawbury have returned from Nairobi, Kenya after completing their football tour and shirt distributions on behalf of the ‘Taking Football to Africa and Beyond’ appeal.
The team quickly saw the differences between the UK and East Africa on the drive across the Kenyan capital to Braeburn Garden International School, their home for the week. After sorting through the 5905 items of football kit, school uniforms and toys, the squad departed for Mathare slum and their first match against Football for Christ (FFC).
The team, made up of youths from Mathare, come together through the church group. The game was on a hard stony dirt pitch and followed a semi-professional game. Some 300 people remained to watch the RAF game, which started badly. The team was 4-0 down before they started to recover ending the match at 4-2.
The team began at Githerai, a small facility with around 30 children and three small classrooms, run by Pastor Francois. Most of the children are orphans and many live with the Pastor.
The team played two football matches with the first being against FC Leeds of Boma, played on a cow’s field with an irrigation ditch down the centre of the pitch. The pitch was incredibly wet with long grass and branches as goal posts. An excellent game saw the RAF run out as 2-1 winners. The second game was much more official, played at the Kenyan Law Academy pitch in Karen.
The RAF took an early two-goal lead before falling to a 3-2 defeat. The team spent the evening having a meal and making deliveries to the East African Women’s League. The hosts were Pam and Phil Galley, who have assisted for many years with the Shawbury-based appeal.
The day kicked off with morning deliveries to the Good News Centre and St Martins School in Kibagare slum before a match against Railway Wanderers in Kararua Forest.
The centre was started in 1982 by Sister Leah in a corrugated iron shack and has developed into a school which houses over 650 children from 3-14 years of age. The school also provides a feeding programme for children from the slum and works with no Government funding. The team got the full tour and many of the servicemen spent time playing football and on the play park with the children.
The squad then visited Pastor Amos Okolu at his small school. This school was right in the middle of the slum area and included a harrowing walk in. The school has around 25 children who are also fed due to not getting food at home. Many of the children are orphaned and many are HIV positive. The day ended with an excellent 2-0 victory for the airmen over an ex-pat team.
The squad traveled up the edge of the Great Rift Valley before making deliveries to Naivasha Street kids, Loldia Primary School, Saidia Children’s Orphanage and Sanachat School. All of the schools and orphanages are run to look after and educate children who have lost their parents and have nowhere else to go. Loldia has over 1200 children whilst Saidia has a baby’s room full of children deserted at birth. The Loldia visit included a 3-2 defeat for the airmen against the schools girls’ team.
Several members of the team were suffering with illness by this point as they completed deliveries in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum town housing over a million people in a little under than three square kilometres. After deliveries to STARA School and the Kibera Project, the team dropped off two large boxes of football boots to Kibera Celtic FC before moving onto Daragetti Corner and a charity called Seed for Hope.
At Celtic the team took part, and filmed, an impromptu ‘cross bar challenge’. The team played four full matches and had kick arounds with children in many other places.
The trip proved hugely successful and acted as a real eye opener for the touring party. The tour and deliveries allow servicemen of all ranks and ages to see how people live in the poorer parts of Africa.
They delivered 5905 items during the week across 22 deliveries. These deliveries take the full totals for the appeal to 53486 items, including 20617 shirts. Squadron Neil Hope MBE runs the appeal from the North Shropshire unit and can be contacted on email@example.com.
The trip would not have been possible without the assistance of the RAF Sports Lottery, Virgin Atlantic, Braeburn School and many others especially the multitude of clubs, schools and people who have donated to the appeal.