Sophomore donates soccer gear to South African children

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With hours of planning, collecting donations and traveling, sophomore and member of the varsity boys’ soccer team Shayl Chetty recently donated soccer gear to children in South Africa by organizing his own drive.

Chetty donated to the nonprofit organization Each One Reach One, which is located in Phoenix Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. This organization provides used cleats, shin guards, socks and shorts to children who are unable to afford soccer gear. According to Chetty, these children have a passion for soccer but are struggling financially to buy the gear necessary to play the sport, which can often cost upward of $100.

The idea for the drive hit close to home for Chetty since his father grew up near Phoenix Kwazulu Natal witnessing some of these heartbreaking cases of poverty. Because of his father’s stories, Chetty was inspired to make a change for some of the children facing these financial conditions.

 As a member of the boys’ varsity soccer team, Chetty decided to tackle the problem head-on when he noticed the amount of soccer gear thrown away every year, when it could be going to people unable to afford them.

“I realized that a lot of people on the team have extra soccer gear just laying around, and (my parents and I) were going to South Africa to meet family anyway, so I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Chetty said.

 Chetty explained that the drive received donations, and that many were willing to support his cause. The support from friends and teachers made the process much easier for Chetty and he was able to organize the drive efficiently along with help from his parents.

“There were a lot of donations from ’Stoga soccer, Zimmerman and my friends, and I am very thankful to them all,” Chetty said.

Soccer coach and teacher David Zimmerman was one of the top contributors for Chetty’s cause and supported him throughout the process. Having coached for 25 years, Zimmerman collected many parts of uniforms that are no longer useful. When he heard about Chetty’s drive, he did some digging around his house and locker rooms and was able to find used socks and shorts along with old uniforms to donate to the drive. 

“I admire Shayl for putting in the time and effort to help other people because those who do good things for others benefit from the good feeling you get from being kind to and helping people,” Zimmerman said. “More students should look for opportunities to help people who are less fortunate than we are.”

Chetty was able to immerse himself into the drive and even play soccer with some of the children in South Africa while he was there. Not only could Chetty connect with the same passion of soccer shared between them, but he was also afforded the opportunity to give back to community of fellow soccer players.

Chetty recollects a memory in particular with the children at the foundation. While playing soccer with the children, he remembers the warmup feeling like a rhythmic dance rather than a routine endurance building activity. Looking at how the children could use their imagination and compassion for the sport was an eye-opening experience for Chetty.

“It was amazing to see how much (the children) were enjoying being together and how happy they were even though they had close to nothing,” Chetty said. “The children there really didn’t have a lot, but they still found a way to enjoy playing a sport they love. 

The moments Chetty spent on the field playing soccer with the children and giving them the gear are moments which stood out to him the most. 

“I will never forget their warm smiles from that day when I first met them,” Chetty said.