Children in West Africa take to the pitch in football stripes from Norfolk

A football team in The Gambia trying on their new football stripes from Dereham. Picture: Gambian Ai

A football team in The Gambia trying on their new football stripes from Dereham. Picture: Gambian Aid Through Education - Credit: Archant

After nearly a year of collecting and transporting unused football strips from Dereham have made it into the hands of passionate young footballers in one of Africa's poorest nations.

The kit was donated by the Dereham Town Football Club last year and it has now completed a journey of over 3,000 miles to reach The Gambia,

The donation was arranged by the Matishall-based charity, Gambian Aid Through Education.

Founder and trustee Janet Clark said: 'We knew there was a need for football strips as all schools in The Gambia have football teams so we posted an appeal on social media and Dereham Football Club responded.

'They sent us quite a lot and as it was adult size it has been distributed between high schools and village teams.

'A challenge for us was to distribute it across the country, we couldn't give it to just one community otherwise we would end up with each team wearing the same kit.'

The United Nations estimates that 80pc of Africans wear second hand clothes and Oxfam says 70pc of clothes donated globally end up in Africa. The Gambia is one of the continent's smallest and poorest nations.

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Ms Clark, who visits the country every year, described the impact of clothing donations as 'huge' and said the expression on people's faces when they receive donations says everything.

'Education is not free or compulsory in The Gambia and the children are required to wear uniform at school. What we try and do is dress the children when they are not in school so that their families can afford to buy them the school uniform because if they cannot afford the uniform then they cannot go to school.

'We also collect shoes as a lot of these children are walking between three and five kilometres to school on bare feet.

'The other thing we collect is vegetable seeds because the schools are on world food programme but they are only provided with rice and oil. By us providing vegetable seeds they are used as part of the school programme and children are taught to plant the seeds so that vegetables can become part of their lunch, otherwise all they get is just a plate of plain rice for lunch.'

To make a donation to the charity contact the Gambian Aid Through Education on 01362 858221.

You can also contact them via social media.

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