Hall Road Rangers warmed the hearts of the community when the under U8s side donated football kits to a school in Hull’s twinned city of Freetown in Sierra Leone, writes Lewis Scott.
The King Fahad Islamic School will benefit from receiving 10 of the club’s U8s red and black away shirts along with a range of training wear, raincoats, boots and goalkeeping gloves.
The idea came from club treasurer Davina Hanson, an assistant teacher at Endsleigh Primary School, when she heard one of her colleagues was heading to the city in Western Africa.
25 schools in Hull are part of a ‘school-to-school linking programme’ with educational centres in Freetown, with Mrs Hanson’s school being a twin with the King Fahad primary. The programme is the largest of its kind in the world. Davina said:
“Upon hearing that the children at the King Fahad School enjoyed football so much, I approached the Under 8s team I’m involved with to see if we could help.
“All our boys and parents got on board with the donation of our away kit from last season. After seeing the pictures of such happy faces I couldn’t be more pleased to have been involved.”
She said another ‘mountain of gear’ is currently on its way to Freetown via a container ship.
Teachers from every linked school have been involved in exchange visits between the two countries, and school’s curricula on both sides have been enriched through sharing work and developing joint projects.
The partnerships provide an opportunity for children on both sides to not only learn about another culture, but also to examine, explain and value their own cultures.
Mark Dobson, Hall Road Rangers’ U8s head coach said:
“Our boys are very fortunate in that they get all the kit they need provided to them. This is a great idea by Davina to help kids less fortunate than ours.
“Our boys are able to understand the difference they have made to these kids through football. We’re very proud to have been able to do this.”
The young players of the side also wrote a letter to the African counterparts explaining why they love football, and that they hope they enjoy playing in their kit too, Mr Dobson explained.
The club hopes to continue this programme over the next few years.
King Fahad Islamic School has now decided to name their side Hall Road Rangers.
The city of Hull has had a long associated relationship with Freetown. The towns were twinned in 1980 at the instigation of the former Sierra Leone High Commissioner, Dr S T Matturi, a graduate of the University of Hull, and a ceremony took place later that year in both cities.
With a history of violent civil wars now fading into the past, the outbreak of the ebola virus is still a serious problem in the country. However, Freetown in an increasingly peaceful and friendly city, and acts of kindness like this will continue to improve the lives of children there.