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A Calgary teenager and the Blizzard Azzurri soccer team are working with a charity in Kenya to help provide orphaned children with soccer gear. 14 year-old Alex Tonelli from the Blizzard Azzurri is visiting Kenya with his parents, who are volunteering at a local mission hospital. Tonelli has brought with him a large assortment of used soccer equipment donated by his team-mates and friends.

Tonelli and his team are partnering with Naomi’s Village, a registered orphanage that provides shelter, education, health care, clothing and nutrition to children who have lost their parents due to AIDS, disasters, accidents and violence. By some estimates, there are as many as two million orphaned children, and the vast majority receive absolutely no assistance from government. In addition to caring for orphaned children, Naomi’s Village is involved in several large community development projects focusing on primary and secondary education, clean water, social services, and health care.

On April 1, Tonelli participated in soccer drills and a lively scrimmage with more than 50 local youngsters, all eager to play their favourite sport. “Most of these kids have never owned a pair of soccer shoes, and often they don’t even have a ball to play with”, he said. “It’s great to make use of these shoes, shirts, shorts, socks and whatever else that our team has outgrown. It’s really fantastic to see them playing the game that we all love. I don’t speak Swahili or Kikuyu, but it doesn’t seem to matter out here. It’s nice to know that these children are in safe hands, where they can go to school and get enough to eat. The work that Naomi’s Village is doing here is really amazing.”

The Blizzard Azzurri donated nearly three dozen pairs of shoes, a full team’s set of soccer uniforms, training equipment like pylons and hurdles – and most popular of all, replica jerseys from famous soccer clubs like Manchester City and Barcelona.

“This is a great event for our kids”, said Mark Sisler, director of outreach at Naomi’s Village. “The boots and training gear are fantastic and the kids really appreciate the chance to play soccer with new friends”.

Soccer is very popular among Kenyan children, along with other sports such as cricket, rugby and athletics. The country is hoping to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. For more information or to make a donation to Naomi’s Village click here.

Source credit: Canada Footy News