Local Soccer Club Creates Joy For African School
Last November FSCI-Phoenix, a youth travel soccer club based in Fredericksburg, was presented with a unique community service project. Every few years for various reasons, the club changes their team uniforms. This past fall season due to discontinued items, the club was faced with making the change. With age groups ranging from U10 to U18, and players on both boys and girls teams, many new and gently used uniforms were left without a purpose.
Phoenix is home to two talented young soccer players, Bertrand and Raoul Niyungeko. The boys are refugees from Burundi; a small, very poor country located in central Africa. EVERYONE there plays soccer. However, very few players can afford uniforms. Since FSCI recently changed uniforms, the idea to send their old uniforms to kid's teams in Burundi seemed to be a wonderful way to extend a helping hand to so many children.
Bertrand's team of 24 boys along with their parents sprang into action organizing communications and collections from all of the Phoenix teams. Complete uniform sets consisting of a jersey and shorts with the team logo and player number were packaged into large plastic storage baggies to keep the set together and for ease of packing. Additionally, they collected "gently used" soccer items; cleats, shin guards, deflated soccer balls, socks etc. The families were thrilled to have the opportunity to donate their old uniforms and to be able to give to a community that shares their love of soccer!
The final packaging and counting of donations was handled by Connor Schweikart; one of the project volunteers who plays on Bertrand's teams. Collectively, the team shared 39 sets of shirts and shorts, 14 extra shirts, 23 pair of cleats, 11 balls, eight pair of shin guards, and one pair of goalie gloves! Family friend and sponsor Patricia Corbett acted as the team liaison. "Soccer is the number one sport in Africa. The number two sport is corruption!" Patricia says. That is the reason she worked closely with church groups to get the donations directly to the teams in need.
Bertrand & Raoul's uncle also helped with ensuring the safe arrival of the boxes sent to Africa. He was on site to take several photos of the students when the items arrived. "I may not have more words to utter my heartfelt gratitude for the precious work done by the team in the US in favor of our commune. How nice the students will look while wearing the uniforms, just like the World's Cup competitors!" says Barnabé Ndayikeza, the boy's uncle.
The uniforms were sent to the students at Marimonte Academy in Mudende, Africa. The school is under the direction of Fr Donatien Bacinoni. "We outfitted two teams! The uniforms were given to both boys and girls-I think what we did was outfit the entire school! How proud they look in the team photos" says Fr. Bacinoni.
This is the first shipment FSCI has organized to Burundi. With the success of this project, additional uniform collections are being discussed. Project volunteer Dane DiEuginio, also a teammate of Bertrand, created a Face Book page dedicated to the students in Burndi. Please visit Facebook: Project Team Share for more information. Additionally, information about FSCI Phoenix Soccer can be found on their website: http://www.fredericksburgsoccer.org/