A Consett project that uses soccer to bring people from different continents together is appealing for football gear to send to Africa.
Ged Naughton from Consett is asking people to collect second-hand boots, strips and other kit to send to four teams in Liberia, West Africa. Ged has been connected with Liberia for more than 25 years and for three years has organised the Christmas Dribble - a sponsored walk in December kicking a football 15 miles to raise money to cover transport costs. He has raised almost £6,000 since 2017.
A shipment of 21 boxes of strips weighing more than 430kg in total landed in Liberia in March, and Ged is getting ready to collect more for next year.
He said: “It’s great that we’re finally getting the shipment to Liberia - and not a single item was lost along the way, so now we can start planning for next year. The previous time we got anything to Liberia was April 2019, so they’re already desperate for replacements. They keep the boots for special games, but even then, they don’t last long on dry, rocky surfaces.”
Ged is looking for football boots and full sets of strips for boys and girls aged 8 to 16. He can be contacted on 07739 170 494.
Ged is resurrecting the name Consett the World for the project. Consett the World was a community activity he ran from 2006 to 2009 that used sport and music to make connections between Consett and the outside world. He is delighted to build on an old connection between Consett and Liberia. He recently discovered that iron ore from Liberia came to Consett in the 1960s and 1970s to be processed into steel.
He said: “From what I’ve read, a ship called Ore Prince used to bring iron ore from Liberia to the Tyne, and there is film from 1961 of that ship being unloaded and the ore being taken by train to Consett. I love being able to discover connections like that. Especially as sending football kit to them now by cargo ship feels like completing the circle.
“It’s 40 years this year since the steelworks closed, so maybe people have forgotten how much Consett used to be at the centre of a global network, with raw materials coming in from all over the planet and finished steel being sent out just as widely. It would be great to continue building up Consett as a place with an outward focus and a global vision into the future.”
Consett the World is partnering with Onside Football & Peace Network in Liberia that runs grassroots teams for boys and girls in four communities in the West African country. The Onside teams use football to promote education, peace-building and leadership.
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Onside is also now connected to a seven-a-side all-weather sports academy with an exotic beachside location in Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia.