AFRICA’S very own Sunderland Football Club is helping change lives thousands of miles from the Stadium of Light.
SAFC Keroche is dramatically rising through the Kenyan national football league.
Now a group of three students from Sunderland University have visited the country to film a documentary about the team’s success and how it is helping change lives, on and off the field.
David Kenny, Matt Ward and Kevin Clift are currently editing their documentary which includes interviews with team’s star players.
While out there, they also found out first-hand what the North East public’s generosity has done for the Kenyan community through donations that include SAFC football kits.
The documentary crew’s stay in the Kenyan village of Karai included having a goat sacrificed in their honour, as well as a village football match.
Even though the East African team has only been in existence since 2007, they are already planning on becoming one of Kenya’s leading clubs.
Kevin Clift, a media production television and radio student at the university, said: “It’s amazing how much progress has been made over the short period of time the club has been existence.
“There are now plans to build a running track which will also be made available to the local school. The whole club, school and local orphanage has a massive community feel to it.”
The club, now in its sixth season, was inspired to name itself SAFC after seeing how many African footballers opted for careers at the Stadium of Light. By chance, Sunderland fan Gary Lamb came across the team on Facebook and instantly wanted to help the penniless club.
Gary, who is now honorary president of the club, urged Sunderland fans to donate their old kit.
A lot of the players didn’t have football boots, often playing barefoot and sometimes arriving just minutes before kick-off because they were working round the clock in local quarries.
The aim of the club was to help prevent youths from falling into crime, as many were ending up in jail after stealing to feed their families,
Crew member Matt Ward said: “We were all welcomed with open arms, from having a whole school sing to you, all the local people asking you to join them for a couple of drinks and even having a goat sacrificed.”
The media students are making the documentary as part of their final year dissertation.