Shoes give kids com­pet­i­tive edge

Central Leader - - SPORT - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

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.

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