Disadvantaged school kids from all over the world are now sporting authentic soccer jerseys in the field, most of them for the first time. And they couldn’t be prouder! Just recently, a group of African kids received bright yellow soccer uniforms all the way from Vancouver, Canada.
These jerseys are courtesy of a project called ‘Play On’, which aims to distribute as many soccer jerseys as possible to different countries across the world where there are children passionate about the sport but lack the means to support themselves with proper gear.
‘Play On’ is the brainchild of two high school kids from Prince of Wales Secondary School—Natalie Fujisawa and Vanessa Yee. Being strong advocates of youth sports at their early age, both girls wanted to do something to help other children enjoy sports the same way their peers did in Canada.
“They were looking for a project that was tied around sustainability. [And] this is what they dreamt up!” shares Dave Fujisawa, Natalie’s father.
Realizing that soccer was one of the widest played sports around the world, Natalie and Vanessa began the mission of helping disadvantaged yet passionate kids enjoy this sport with the right uniform and proper gear.
The girls formed a group called ‘Vancouver United FC’ which is a collaboration between three Westside amateur soccer teams– Kerrisdale, Dunbar, and Point Grey. With these three teams joining together, they were able to gather around 3,000 soccer uniforms for donation.
To save on shipping costs, they try to work with individuals and groups who are travelling to certain countries and are willing to carry the soccer uniforms for distribution to children in selected communities. A local school who had students travelling to Kenya agreed to transport a number of soccer jerseys to a community of soccer-passionate kids.
“Recipients of the jerseys have been thankful and have sent back pictures of the kids,’ Dave adds.
To date, their project has carried soccer uniforms to thousands of children in Vietnam, Thailand, Uganda, Guatemala, South Africa, and an orphanage in Mexico to name a few.
‘Play On’s’ mission and advocacy is slowly gaining popularity across Canada with more and more schools, sports organizations, companies, and even individuals offering their support.
They are open to donations of uniforms and gear in good condition, such as jerseys, shorts, socks, soccer balls, cleats, and shin guards. All donations will be sent to disadvantaged children in developing countries in an effort to inspire youth across the world to pursue their love for sports.
For more details about ‘Play On’ and how to further support this project, log on to http://playonvancouver.weebly.com/index.html.