Western News

Joy at Farm Heights

CSJ donates over US$60,000 worth of football gear in first year

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 23, 2014    

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FARM HEIGHTS, St James — THE almost 50 members of the Farm Heights-based club, Heights, could hardly contain their joy last week when they were presented with football gear by Anne Chang, a founding director of the charitable organisation, Cleats and Stuff Jamaica (CSJ).

For many, the gift was a dream come true, as most of the youngsters had been playing the very popular sport of football without the

proper footwear.

"I am really grateful for the (football) boots, socks, shots and jersey that I have received. Now I will be able to train even harder," a grateful team member told the Jamaica Observer West.

The donation which included 30 balls, 35 football boots, socks, shorts and an igloo, was equally appreciated by trainer of the Heights club, Paul 'Tegat', a former national footballer, and a veteran coach.

"It is really a great gesture by Miss Chang and we appreciate it a lot," said Davis, adding that many of the boys whose age ranged from four-17, cannot afford to purchase football gear.

"A lot of them were playing barefooted and even without shirts, now they look a more uniformed bunch," he told the Observer West.

Since last June, the veteran coach has been working with the youngsters drawn from Farm Heights, Puerto Bello and the inner city community of Rose Heights every Saturday to hone their skills.

"This is really my initiative, I do it with my money from my pocket and I tell the youngsters to come as they are. So, some of them come without shirts and without footwear. It is really my way of giving back to the community where I have been living for 18 years, and to prevent the youths from going astray," explained Davis, adding that many of them are poor, but yet very talented.

The former national football representative, who has coached several Premier League teams, including Arnett Gardens, Invaders, Seba United and Village United, as well as teams playing in the daCosta Cup competition, noted that the donation from Cleats and Stuff Jamaica will go a far way in shaping and moulding the lives of the youngsters.

Davis told the Observer West that he met Chang, and solicited her help while he was assisting Peter Hurge with the Youth in Action

football team.

"While I was with Peter Hurge the owner of Youth in Action, I met Miss Chang, who had donated some things to them, so I asked her for help, and she agreed," explained Davis, adding that "you can't find a better person than Miss Chang".

Up to last week, Chang said, CSJ has donated roughly 300 football boots, 250 balls, 400 jerseys, 300 shorts, 200 socks, 200 shin guards, trophies and igloos valued at approximately US$60,000 to a number of football teams across

St James.

They include: Montego Bay Boys Club, Corinaldi Primary, Youth in Action Football Club, John's Hall Primary, St James High School, Granville All Age School and Rose Heights and Farm community

seniors team.

Chang, who is also a director of Fontana Pharmacy, told the Observer West that the one-year-old initiative was conceptualised after one of her sons, Jake Therrien — a promising footballer — then 12, brought to her attention that a number of children are playing the sport without adequate gear.

"My son (Jake) plays football, and he plays with a lot of kids that really cannot afford a lot of equipment, so one day he was playing with a team

and he came home and told us that they had to share football shoes during the game, and so we thought about it and began to ask family members and people overseas whom we knew, to donate used and even new football gear," she explained.

Since then, Chang said, her two other sons, Max and Luke, as well as husband Ray, have been working assiduously to secure more football gear, in a bid to assist needy persons in the Montego Bay area, particularly in the inner-city communities.

"We have created a Facebook page and we have been reaching out to almost everybody that we know abroad, so we have been spreading the word to all of our friends and relatives," said Chang, noting that a website — cleatsandstuffJa.com — has also been created.

So far, CSJ has received donations from New Jersey, Michigan, Miami, Vancouver and Toronto.

"We actually got a donation from North Toronto FC which is the professional soccer club in Toronto," Chang quipped, adding that Oakville Soccer Club, also in Canada, has been one of their biggest donors.

Meanwhile, Chang is appealing to Jamaicans in the diaspora to make donations to the CSJ.

"I really would like to appeal to the people overseas to get organised, start collecting -- especially through the soccer leagues -- and get donation boxes. Even if they can just collect them where they are, we will figure out a way to get them here," said Chang.

She stressed that keeping the youths in sports is one way from preventing them from "going down the wrong road".

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