Hull pupils make team effort to help sport fans in Africa
THEY will soon enjoy some of the best school sports facilities in the city.
But before the new Andrew Marvell College can open, pupils have transformed the sports hall into a kaleidoscope of colour to ensure their counterparts in Sierra Leone are properly kitted out too.
The students – whose £27m new building will boast one of the biggest sports halls in the city – have been collecting sports shirts to donate to the pupils of two schools.
And although they have already enough shirts to fill half their sports hall, they are now appealing for the community's help to collect more.
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Students at the school started their appeal only a few months ago, inspired by the comedian John Bishop's work in the region as part of Comic Relief.
Mark Parker-Randall, who runs their international School Partnership Development, said pupils were moved to do all they could to help young children trapped in a life of poverty.
He said: "The effects of a violent civil war in Sierra Leone are still being felt to this day by families struggling to put the pieces together.
"When Sport Relief ran a piece about their plight, they brought it to the attention of nearly every student in our college.
"We decided to do something."
The school used the city's twinning connection with Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, to contact the local YMCA and forge links with two schools, a primary school in Kissy – formerly the Waterloo refugee camp – and a school for secondary aged children in Bo, which is the country's second largest city.
The primary school in Kissy was founded in 1999 during the rebel crisis and civil war, which resulted in the mass incineration of homes and extensive loss of life.
Many children were orphaned and were forced to endure the sight of their parents massacred in front of them.
YMCA volunteers started programmes that targeted young children who had been roaming the streets with little or no hope for the future.
The school now has its own building with 275 pre-school and primary school students aged between three and 11 years.
The secondary school in Bo has recently been established due to a severe lack of educational provision in the area.
The school currently has a total of 75 students aged between 11 and 16 years.
Pupils at Andrew Marvell College decided to collect the shirts after looking at what the schools had in common.
Brandon Wilkinson, a Year 9 pupil at Andrew Marvell, said: "Sierra Leonean kids love sports.
"Most of their sporting activities include basketball, volleyball and football.
"They love football so much.
"They have many fans of European teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund, just like us."
Sam Jones, the teacher who spearheaded the project, said: "Once the pupils found out they too loved sports, we came up with the idea of donating sports shirts.
"Basic clothes like this are taken for granted by people over here but with abject poverty rife in Sierra Leone, they should make a real difference to pupils in Sierra Leone."
The sports shirt amnesty proved to be so successful, the school has also enrolled the project within its primary partner schools Bellfield Primary in Saxby Road and Spring Cottage Primary in Dressay Grove, both east Hull.
Mr Jones said: "We put out an appeal for everyone to donate unwanted sports shirts so they can be used by children in Sierra Leone.
"We have been really pleased with the response, but we're hoping more people will help us to make sure every child in these schools can have at least one sports shirt they can call their own."
If you would like to donate a sports shirt to help the school's appeal, call 01482 799132.