A SUNDERLAND fanatic is calling on supporters to help an African football team which has adopted his beloved club’s name.
Gary SAFC Lamb came across Kenyan team Sunderland AFC Keroche on Facebook and has launched an appeal to boost its kit and coffers after hearing about the hardship its squad faces.
The team is worlds apart from its Premier League counterpart – first team players can walk up to 10 miles to reach a match and donate what money they can from their low paid wages to cover the cost of fixtures.
Old Sunderland strips are being collected to send to the team, which took on its name in honour of Africans including Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah, who played for the Premiership club.
He is also gathering shorts, socks, boots and shin guards, with hopes high that enough of one edition of kit will come in so that all members of the first team turn out in the same strip.
Money is also being gathered to pay for the surnames of the players to be printed on the back.
Dozens of tops have already been collected, with drop-off points set up in the Wheatsheaf in Roker Avenue, The Mallard in Stockton Road, Seaham, and Dawdon Community Centre. Other businesses and venues are being invited to add their backing.
Lorry driver Gary is also collecting cash donations and is appealing for businesses to get involved to sponsor the side for a season.
The £1,200 needed would fund costs including transport and referee fees.
The 52-year-old from Seaham, said: “I’ve been overwhelmed with the response so far.
“When I saw the team I thought it would be just great to think there are Sunderland supporters in Kenya and it’s not just the players, but the whole village.
“It’s also amazing to think we could support them for just £1,200 to cover their expenses for the season.
“The deadline is Valentine’s Day and that’s really to show the love for the kids.”
The club, based in Naivasha in the Rift Valley Province, has a junior squad where players are aged from five years old, with the eldest players for its first team 26.
Gary is also welcoming people to hand over strips at home games.
Anyone who would like more information or to donate strips can contact him on 07880 732 078.
His appeal is the latest to be launched by Sunderland fans in support of the team.