A charitable appeal operated from RAF Shawbury, in North Shropshire, is preparing for an extensive delivery visit to Kenya in East Africa and, in doing so, will pass a number of huge milestones.
The RAF Football Association (RAF FA) Taking Football to Africa and Beyond Charitable Appeal delivers ‘Aid through Football’ by collecting donated items of football kit and redistributing them to children and adults across the globe. The Appeal is organised by Wing Commander Neil Hope MBE and was set up in 2006 to deliver kit to Africa. It quickly became global and to date has delivered over 298000 items of kit, including over 86500 football shirts to 59 countries worldwide.
The Appeal team, led by Neil with the assistance of Flight Lieutenant Mark Smales, are heading to Kenya on 10th February with a mixed Military and Civilian team of 14 people to complete 28 separate deliveries in and around Nairobi and in Gilgil, 3 hours north of the capital on the Great Rift Valley. In completing the deliveries, the team will interact with children and adults in the major slum areas of Kibera, Kibagare and Mathare as well as schools, orphanages and football teams who are all in need of the essential aid. Kibera is Africa’s largest slum with over one million people living in an area of around 3 square kilometres with no permanent running water or electricity supplies and no sewerage system.
The Appeal continues to increase its formidable successes and 2021 saw the busiest year yet with 21 separate deliveries across 9 countries totalling 32000 items. Whilst Kenya was the main recipient deliveries were also made to Egypt, Mali, Guinea, Lesotho, Nepal, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia. Whilst the Appeal has not been able to make any ‘in person’ delivery visits for 2 years during the COVID Pandemic it has continued to deliver through our partners especially BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) and Braeburn Garden Estate School in Nairobi. Many deliveries have also been made through multiple other charities and organisations.
Kits delivered by the team included items donated by football teams and individuals from across the United Kingdom from England (Football Association) and Premier clubs including Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Aston Villa and the Manchester United Foundation. Also delivered has been a large amount of kit donated by the Appeals local club, and one of its top links, Shrewsbury Town FC, as well as items donated by clubs throughout Grassroots football including County Football Associations; member clubs of Sheffield & Hallamshire CFA, Hampshire CFA, Essex CFA and Worcestershire CFA amongst many others.
Neil said, ‘It is pleasing that we about to embark on another ‘in person’ delivery visit and we are very excited about renewing our friendships across Kenya. 2021 was undoubtedly one of the most successful years we have completed, which is amazing given the current Pandemic and its restrictions. This will be my 15th Kenya delivery trip with nearly 100 people taking part over the years and I look forward to introducing this years’ team to an amazing part of the world. Another milestone on this visit is that we will deliver our 300000th item since we began back in May 2006. I would like to thank all the people, clubs and schools that donated items delivered on this visit and to the Appeal, as well as all who have helped us achieve this amazing goal, especially the team at Shawbury who help with the Appeal including Supply Receipt and Despatch and also RAF Brize Norton Air Traffic Control Squadron. We look forward to another exciting year which will, hopefully, include the rescheduled Nepal delivery visit in September delivering kit to villages as we take on the Everest Base Camp Trek.’