Shoes give kids competitive edge
Ten pairs of shiny new boots have lit up the faces of a Pt England rugby team.
Marist Rugby Club’s under-11s tried the boots on for size last week.
The gear was donated by charitable trust Shoes for Kids. Most of the youngsters have never had new boots before.
Pt England 10-year-old player Jerome Tupuola says the boots will make him run faster than ever. ‘‘I feel so good about it. ‘‘My mum and dad were struggling to get boots for me and now I’ve got these bright yellow ones. I’ll play so much better.’’
Carlos Maddigan, Mt Wellington, 11, agrees: ‘‘I feel like I’m a pro now.’’
Team coach Steve Doherty says it is a real treat for the youngsters. He usually goes to the annual Sacred Heart College fair at the beginning of the season to pick up spare pairs of second-hand boots so the team can play.
‘‘It’s a bit pick and mix but otherwise they wouldn’t be playing, you know. To have brand new ones now – this is just such a special thing for them. It’s the sort of thing that could lift them even further in their playing.’’
Shoes for Kids is the brainchild of former Silver Fern Leonie Leaver.
The Greenlane woman dreamed up the shoe-giving initiative when she was coaching at One Tree Hill College and kids were turning up without sports shoes.
The trust was one of 12 winning charities that received $10,000 in Auckland Airport’s 12 Days of Christmas project. Ms Leaver used the money to buy 200 pairs of sports shoes for children across Auckland, including the Marist team.
The trust has donated hundreds of pairs of second-hand and new shoes to Auckland sports teams in the last five years, she says.
‘‘Seeing the happy faces of the kids makes it all worth it.’’
Proud players: Marist Rugby Club under-11s player Jerome Tupuola with team members, back, Nathan Burns, Carlos Maddigan, Brandan Dainty, Lolo Tuionetoa, Starr Sao, and front, Sateki Tuipulotu, Riley Te Huia and Tufele Tapueluelu with Shoes for Kids founder Leonie Leaver.