by participants in St. John’s Youth Soccer.
— Submitted photos
When Carol Bartlett learned her niece would be travelling to the African country of Kenya for a school internship and was looking for items to donate to children there, she immediately took action.
Now, 175 soccer uniforms, that were at one point worn by St. John’s Youth Soccer players and were collected by the Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s resident, are now getting dirty in soccer games being played 10,000 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland.
“To think that a club here could have that kind of an impact on 175 children in a little village in Kenya is pretty awesome,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett’s niece, Lydia MacKay, was an education student at the University of Prince Edward Island. One of the internship options available to her was to work with the Farmers Helping Farmers program in Kenya. Aside from gaining valuable teaching experience in Kenya, MacKay wanted to give something back to the country.
“She mentioned soccer balls,” said Bartlett of her niece, who is from P.E.I. “Well, I had a close association with the soccer association here in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, so I said I would approach them.”
In the end, that did not work out. However, Bartlett eventually got in touch with St. John’s Youth Soccer and Carla Squires.
“I told her about my plight, and she was really keen to help.”
Bartlett met Squires at the H.G.R. Mews Community Centre and was amazed by how many uniforms she received.
“I was overwhelmed. I thought I might get 50.
“It was perfect because they were all sizes, right from something a four-year-old would wear right up to an extra large in men’s.”
The journey to Kenya was a somewhat delayed one for the uniforms, which were originally sponsored by Bell Aliant.
While MacKay travelled to Kenya in 2012, it was not until last fall that the jerseys finally made it there, by which time Bartlett’s niece had already graduated from university. An arrangement was already in place with Air Canada to cover the cost of transporting the uniforms to Kenya.
“I don’t know if you know how much 175 uniforms weigh, but it was quite a big package, and Air Canada was good enough to cover that,” said Bartlett.
One of MacKay’s former teachers accompanied the uniforms to Kenya, and photos of children playing in them were passed along to Bartlett.