Local soccer community lends a hand around the world

Jerseys for Africa helps makes sure people in impoverished countries around the world can enjoy recreational opportunities.

Jerseys for Africa organizer Shelley Zupp sorts some of the items donated to the project

Jerseys for Africa organizer Shelley Zupp sorts some of the items donated to the project

Jerseys for Africa is a local effort that donates new and used soccer equipment to impoverished communities around the world.

“The equipment is generously donated by the Vernon soccer community,” said organizer Shelley Zupp. “Approximately 3,000 jerseys, plus balls, cleats, shorts, socks and shin guards have been delivered to 15 countries and seven regions of Mexico since 2008.”

Zupp said the most difficult part of doing this kind of work is actually transporting the equipment to the communities in need.

“We don’t have money to pay for shipping the equipment, so we rely on individuals travelling to these locations to take a bag of soccer equipment — humanitarian aid — with them, which is usually transported at no cost by the airline,” she said.

Jerseys for Africa is currently collecting soccer equipment for two upcoming deliveries, to Mexico and Zimbabwe. Donations of jerseys and other soccer gear can be made at the Vantage One Centre, the indoor soccer facility in Vernon.

Jerseys For Africa is also looking for sponsors to pay for soccer balls and pumps, as the current stock is quickly being depleted. The cost would be around $200.

“Elephant Storage Centre has generously donated a unit for storing all the soccer equipment,” said Zupp.

Individuals or groups who are interested in participating with the Jerseys for Africa project, can see more details at www.jerseysforafrica.blogspot.ca or can contact Zupp at 250-545-3853 or e-mail shelleyzupp@gmail.com

As well, anyone planning to go to Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo, Mexico this winter and is willing to bring along a box of humanitarian aid can contact Maurie Deaton via e-mail at maurie@shaw.ca