Aldershot Town have donated thousands of pounds’ worth of professional football kit to help young people in Zimbabwe live a safer, healthier life.
The Thembalethu Soccer Academy, based in Sheffield, combine football and education to make African communities stronger, promote healthy lifestyles and teach young people about HIV and AIDS.
Most of the kit – including first-team shirts, shorts, boots, socks, footballs and tracksuits – will be distributed to teams in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s industrial heartland in the south-west of the country and the nation’s second-largest city
The Foundation was established in 2011 with ambitions to revive lost hope in thousands of young people whose lives are blighted by HIV and poverty, by developing football facilities at the heart of local communities and organising tournaments. It aims particularly to reach young people considered most at risk, including those involved in sex work and living on the streets or not in education.
Alongside providing football equipment and better sports facilities, the non-profit-making Foundation runs a programme of visits to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in both adults and children, and help children deal with the effects of losing a parent or loved one to the epidemic. 40% of new HIV infections occur amongst people aged 15-24, with girls and young women disproportionately affected.
Shots Chairman Shahid Azeem said: “It is a pleasure to be able to help the Thembalethu Foundation and give hope to thousands of children in some of the world’s most deprived regions. Football is a universal force for good and it’s amazing to think that this kit can help children build better lives and bring a smile to their faces. Poverty and disease are a blight on Zimbabwe and many other countries and those of us who can help should do everything we can to assist them.”