AN entire African village will turn red and white thanks to kind-hearted Sunderland fans.
What began as a campaign for old Black Cats strips for a Kenyan football team has been so successful that the whole community is set to be kitted out.
Black Cats-crazy Gary SAFC Lamb appealed in the Echo for strips and funds to help African side Sunderland AFC Keroche after discovering the squad on Facebook.
Within just weeks of urging fellow supporters to dig out their old tops, he has filled boxes with about 400 shirts, with boots, shinpads and shorts also being added to the growing pile.
While he is now seeking a further 23 of last season’s strip to give the side the most up-to-date look on the pitch, he is increasing efforts to seek sponsorship to help the players play their fixtures.
The team can be backed with £1,200 a year.
Just over £300 has been pledged so far, and the cash will also help secure the long-term future of the club.
Gary, 50, from Seaham, has also been approached by individuals and firms who want to sponsor specific players in the 25-strong side and its manager, assistant manager and physiotherapist.
Truck driver Gary, whose efforts are being supported by businesses from the area, said: “We’re now going to kit out the whole community. All the children want strips, people of all ages.
“I’ve been really impressed with the response for the shirts and the sponsors as well.
“Sponsors are helping to give the youngsters who attend coaching lessons with Sunderland AFC Keroche hope for the future and a weekly release from all the hardship in their country, as the team coaches kids from the age of five upwards.”
Gary is one of a series of Sunderland fans backing the players, who adopted their name after players including Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah joined the Premier League side.
The deadline for strips for the village, which is in the Rift Valley Province, is February 14. For more information can contact Gary on 07880 732 078.
Drop-off points are at The Wheatsheaf in Roker Avenue, Sunderland; The Mallard in Stockton Road, Seaham; and Dawdon Community Centre.