By Samara Cygman
Are your dresser drawers so clogged, you get a Superman-sized workout just trying to open them, only to have them explode all over the room when you do?
Or, has your child long since graduated up through the ranks of Cochrane Minor Soccer and still has scores of jerseys piling up in his or her room?
If this accurately describes you or one of your children, there is a message for you floating around the community.
Dr. William Hanlon, physician at the Cochrane medical clinic, is planning to embark on yet another medical mission halfway across the world, and wants to bring a bit of Cochrane along with him.
“It’s a way of bridging communities between Cochrane and some of these developing world communities,” he said.
Hanlon is leaving for Ethiopia in October and because mailing is so expensive, he will personally deliver old soccer jerseys to the children in the small communities, with hopes to build their self-confidence and level of physical activity.
“It’s a lot cheaper for me to bring them over there than to mail them,” he said. “There will be a lot of happy Ethiopians. Most of these kids don’t have soccer gear.”
He plans to deliver the jerseys to an orphanage for children whose parents have died from the AIDS virus. “These kids are without parents in an orphanage that doesn’t have a lot of facilities or resources,” he said. “It’s an area that’s really big into soccer, so we can tap into something they really like to do.”
He remembers three years ago when he brought some equipment to Honduras for children in an orphanage “They formed their own team there and seemed to have really improved their soccer skills,” said Han lon. “That was the idea, to give the kids the opportunity to build up their self-esteem and that sense of community and support for each other.”
This is the fourth year Hanlon has brought jerseys or other sports equipment to developing countries and he is astounded at the level of generosity found within the town.
“It’s amazing the response. People have been really great. It’s being used for a good cause and the kids love them over there,” said Hanlon.
Lea Norris, who is volunteering as the communications liaison for Cochrane Minor Soccer, said when Hanlon contacted her with this proposal, she was excited to help out.
“There is over 1,000 kids who play soccer within Cochrane Minor Soccer, so even if we had 20 per cent of them return jerseys, that would be pretty good,” she said, adding she’s been spreading the word around town. “I’m excited for the opportunity to put these jerseys to use.”
Norris explained the Soccer Jersey Donation Program is voluntary, however, and those children who don’t want to part with their jerseys don’t have to.
“My son, he’s five, and he wants to wear his every day to go play in the playground, but there are older kids who I’m sure never wear them again,” she said.
Drop off your clean, unripped jerseys from any year to the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. up until Sept. 15.If you have any questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 932-KICK