Northern Rivers soccer gives to less fortunate

NO KNIVES, no guns, no smokes, no attack dogs, no booze - soccer uniforms okay.

The sign at the Babati Primary School gate provides a snapshot of the north east corner of South Africa that recently scored 60 hand-me-down soccer kits from the Northern Rivers.

The people are poor, their pitches are dirt and the kids don't have shoes.

Richmond Hill man Richard Buss saw it firsthand when he delivered the shirts and shorts donated by Football Far North Coast in June.

“I gave them to a priest over there and he gave them to the most needy schools which would benefit the most from the donation,” Buss said.

“These are poor schools.

“Most of the children play in their bare feet and certainly do not have access to uniforms to play sport.”

Because it was school holidays during his visit, Buss never saw the kids in the gear until he received a letter from the priest this week.

“The priest said how appreciative the school was,” Buss said.

“They had a carnival and they all get dressed up.

“To them it's a real special occasion, a real big thing to just receive these jumpers.

“It really does make a difference.”

The gift had extra impact as the country prepares to host the 2010 soccer World Cup.

“In the lead-up to the soccer World Cup, they're building stadiums all over the country,” Buss said.

“You usually see soccer in the poorer areas.

“In villages the kids play soccer on a field and when I say a field, it is dirt.

“It is really the game that the Africans play - particularly in the poorer parts.

“They're soccer-mad.

“Giving these jumpers and shorts ... it is absolute Christmas for them.”

This is the second time that Buss has taken FFNC equipment to the southern African country.

“I've got family in South Africa, plus I play soccer and my son and daughter play soccer,” he said.

“We're a sporting family so we tried to think of something we could take over to the kids.

“We approached FFNC and they gave us their old stock.

“Matt Kelso and John Sowter (of FFNC), they were great in helping out.

“They came on board really.

“The ones I took over two years ago, my parents said they often see them on the line of the school drying.

“Two years on we know they're still being used.

“It is really just something little but something really relevant to them.

“Football Far North Coast is promoting soccer across the world, almost.”

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