Stalybridge Celtic Juniors have donated hundreds of items of football kit to Links Community Project in Kenya. Players from across the club’s age groups donated football kits and boots they have grown out of, both Celtic kits and other teams like Man Utd, Man City, Huddersfield Town and Oldham Athletic, as well as full Stalybridge Celtic Juniors strips to kit out an entire team.
Links are a community project based on the outskirts of Mombasa and have over 50 players from age 9 to 17. The project helps youngsters from very poor backgrounds to give them something to do outside of school time, provide physical exercise and, especially the older players, a sense of community and belonging to help keep them out of trouble. Training often starts at 6am to avoid the hottest part of the day with matches late the afternoon.
Chairman Mike Taylor, Life President May Cross, Derek Cross, Vice-Chairman Ali Rehman and Garry Pearce with the boxes ready for shipping.
All the donated items were packed and shipped with the help of Derek Cross, who is the son of Celtic Juniors Life President May Cross. Derek regularly visits Mombasa and helps Links in their community work. Derek said ‘I have a life-long family connection to Stalybridge Celtic Juniors. It’s great to bring the two clubs together, who, despite being on different continents share much of the same enthusiasm, ambition and goals for grassroots junior and youth football.’
Stalybridge Celtic Juniors Chairman Mike Taylor said ‘We’re delighted to help Links in any way we can. It’s fantastic to see Celtic kits being worn 4,000 miles away and young people loving their football just like our junior players here. Hopefully we can continue to work together in the future. Maybe even one day the two clubs could play each other, but we’d have to toss a coin to decide who gets to play in blue and white!’
Thanks to Derek and Celtic Juniors vice-chairman Ali Rehman for all their hard work on the kits for Kenya initiative.
Words | Liam Whitehead