Salford Victoria have set up an annual scheme which sees the club’s kits donated to amateur teams in Africa.
Kits are sent to various rural sub-Saharan communities in Africa that suffer from extreme poverty.
The donations are paid for entirely by the club, who compete in the Lancashire and Cheshire AFL.
Premier Division champions in 2006, and Hellawell Shield victors two years previously, the club left the L&C before returning in 2013, and since then have won titles in four different divisions, and triumphed in the Rhodes Cup.
Before Covid-19 halted all playing activities, Salford Victoria’s first season were enjoying a steady season and were sixth in the top tier, well clear of any relegation trouble.
The second team were fifth in Division Three, with a glimmer of hope of promotion.
But the charitable activity proves that the club is more than just about football; Chris Carney, club chairman, said that the scheme was driven by Chris Lee, who will be managing one of Salford’s teams in 20-21. He was coach at nearby Swinton and one of his players Monday Ozoya, who was born in Nigeria and strong links to back home.
He floated the idea of sending kits back for amateur teams in Africa who unfortunately couldn’t afford to buy them.
Salford were only too happy to step in and have sent the kits they have played in for the last two seasons, and are trying to get other teams involved in the charitable donation. Mr Carney said that AFC Oldham had also shown interest in getting involved.
Andy Rowlandson, AFC Oldham’s Development Officer, said the club has previously donated kits and they were in the process of doing so again before the pandemic put paid to that for the time being.
He said: “We currently have several kits that we would love to donate and I have been in touch with Chris already to arrange details, but due to the current climate, he said to wait until we can sort things out properly.”
The kits, according to Salford’s chairman, are “open age and unique, and we are thankful to our manufacturer, MG Sportswear for providing the kits.”
In order to ensure there are no costs to the recipients, Salford Victoria deal with all aspects of the finances relating to shipping the shirts across to Africa. Chris Carney added: “The club collect the kits, box them up and send them over. We pay for it, and it’s worth it because as well as helping others, it helps us to get the club’s name known far and wide. I’ve had people contact me from countries including Nigeria and Ghana.”
Mr Carney is a stalwart of amateur football in the area, having spent more than half a century in various roles; from playing at open-age as a 14-year-old , Chris played the game for six decades, while also refereeing, serving league management committees, becoming a youth leader in the Boys’ Brigade and with Salford Youth Service, as well as being a foster carer!
He has been at the heart of all Salford Victoria’s highs – and the occasional lows – with his memorable moments including “cup wins, Rhodes Cup, Gosling Cup, Hellawell Shield, and winning the Aggregate Trophy.”
As for the coming season, Chris says that the appetite for football is as strong as ever, with the club expected to host more teams once the amateur game is back up and running.
He added: “We’ve actually started the process of getting people to sign on. We’ve entered two extra teams, so four in total.”
At the time of writing, 87 players have signed on to play for the club, and all can take pride knowing they’re involved in an organisation that helps others.