CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Youth footballers with an extra special goal

As well as enjoying playing, youngsters are helping underprivileged children around the world

08 March, 2018 — By Charlie Corbett

Delighted children in Bangladesh celebrate their delivery of football equipment, courtesy of Just Play Football Club

YOUNGSTERS from Just Play Football Club learn more than just silky skills and tenacious teamwork when they turn up at training. They also learn “all about appreciation”.

That’s because appreciation is at the heart of a club that works tirelessly to help underprivileged children worldwide to enjoy the beautiful game to its fullest.

Coaches from the club, which hosts weekly training sessions in Highgate, have just returned from their latest trip to Bangladesh where they delivered more than 300 kilograms of equipment, including football boots and shirts, goalposts and nets.

Footballers in Malawi during a previous visit from Just Play FC

All of the gear was donated to Just Play’s Kit Share Project, which has so far reached scores of children around the world, including Malawi, Columbia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Nigeria.

But for the club’s co-director, Matt Marriott, said the charity drive isn’t just about the giving, it’s about building a bridge between the people donating and underprivileged children.

“We try and connect people,” he said. “We take pictures and videos of the people who have donated the equipment and then we share them with the children we give it to. Then we record ­personal thank-you messages from some of the recipients, along with a little bit of information about them, and share that with donators. This helps build bridges and connections, and empowers both parties. It helps both sides grow as human beings, and puts smiles on their faces.”

Matt Marriott presents a pair of football boots to a youngster in Bangladesh

Just Play have developed a well-respected reputation for their free-flowing football in the Camden and Regent’s Park Youth League. Matt revealed how the bond that the young players share on the pitch stems from the appreciation that they have for themselves and their team-mates off it.

He added: “The main value we hold as a club is appreciation. Our players appreciate what they have, and why it is important to donate to children less fortunate than themselves.

“They are more than happy to share equipment, boots, cones, kits, balls, nets – anything you can name – to help other children around the world play and enjoy the beautiful game.

“Personally, for me it’s really powerful going and seeing the difference that our players and supporters can make to other people’s lives.”

If you would like to donate to Just Play’s Kit Share Project, visit www.kitshareproject.co.uk for details.

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