Peninsula soccer uniforms are running up and down fields in two African countries.
“The conditions that they play in is a lot different than what I’m used to,” said Cassie Byron. The 17-year-old soccer player saw girls running along the rocky ground wearing no shoes. Sticks in the ground marked the goal posts.
The eye-opener came during Cassie’s first humanitarian aid trip with her grandmother, Sidney Rotary member Judy Byron.
Judy’s recruited Cassie a number of times for local Rotary volunteering and always promised a humanitarian trip anywhere in the world – when she was older.
Now in Grade 12 at Parkland secondary, Cassie joined a national polio immunization tour in Ethiopia that went hut to hut doling out polio drops.
“I loved being with the kids, that was my favourite thing,” Cassie said of the polio clinic. “The kids were just so excited we were there, they were so energetic. They were running with two casts on their legs, kicking a ball around.”
The Byrons also dropped off soccer balls for a pair of girls schools and soccer uniforms donated by the Peninsula Soccer Association to schools in Uganda and Ethiopia.
“The girls don’t play sports at all in that [Ethiopian] system, so this is a beginning, for them, of a sports program,” Judy Byron said.
Peninsula soccer donated 150 jerseys and 50 pairs of shorts.
“Traditionally, girls do not play team sports in Ethiopia. Our uniforms are the first step in this process,” said Bob Hope of Peninsula soccer. “We look forward to receiving pictures of our uniforms making headlines in Addis Ababa,” the capital of Ethiopia.
In Uganda, Byron presented the jerseys and shorts to Siong Ng who is associated with the Gulu public school girls’ soccer team and some were donned immediately for the championship game against the Kasubi primary school.
“The girls love their new uniforms and got many good compliments from the crowd. They got the championship trophy,” Ng wrote in an email. “Most of them will go on to play [with] their new teams with their secondary schools with football scholarships. Thanks to [Peninsula soccer] and Rotary International.”