Longstanding chair of NOYSA Frank Rennick poses with donation bin. (Brieanna Charlebois/ Morning Star)

Vernon Jerseys for Africa program celebrates 10 years

A jersey collection bin is located at the Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre.

Vernon soccer players are celebrating 10 years of giving soccer gear to developing countries through the Jerseys for Africa program.

In 2008, NOYSA began the program and since then the program has grown to include both youth and adult jersey donations. Soccer gear was collected to include in a 40-foot container of building supplies going to Rwanda, through the Wellspring Foundation. About 300 jerseys, cleats, soccer balls, shorts and socks were sent the first year.

Related: Vernon raises $20,000 for Zimbabwe

Related: Local soccer community lends a hand around the world

“NOYSA initially decided to do this program because parents were complaining that we were buying the uniforms every year and players kept them and they had drawers full of them. They felt this was a waste of money but didn’t realize that collecting the uniforms back and trying to get them all in, never mind in good shape cost more to replace in the long run,” said Marina Korberg, executive director of NOYSA. “The NOYSA office was also asked many times annually by organizations that were going on missions or just groups of people if we had old jerseys to take to a third world country.”

Korberg said that she was then approached by Shelley Zupp, who was trying to collect jerseys around that time, and NOYSA decided to start collecting back old Jerseys and donate them where necessary.

“Although receiving a new soccer jersey is great for anyone, we are trying to make a bigger impact by building community,” said Zupp. “Providing teams with uniforms develops unity within the village they are part of providing entertainment and lessening negative impacts of poverty.”

The second year, The Zimbabwe Project was on board. NOYSA has supplied ‘soccer kits’ to Zimbabwe every year since. Everyone involved in the project seems to agree that it has been a success.

“A significant number of youth have been forced to drop from school because either the parents have failed to pay the school fees or both parents have died of AIDS. Lack of entertainment within the Zimbabwe rural communities is also contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Peter Maguwu, a trustee for the Zimbabwe project. “We have discovered that through soccer, we can unify the people and provide entertainment for them. Once we manage to unify the youth we can then start income generating projects for them. Soccer has been playing a pivotal role in unifying the communities and resources are the only challenge we have.”

For those interested in donating, the jersey collection bin is located at the Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre by Marshall Fields in Vernon.

Related: Soccer program goes global

Related: B.C. hockey moms’ jersey campaign supports Broncos

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Jerseys for Africa. (Brieanna Charlebois/ Morning Star)

Jerseys for Africa. (Photo contributed)

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