With the help of the global game, Northern Nash’s reach has extended to Western Africa.
The Knights have created a pipeline of sorts to Republic of the Gambia, a small, agriculture-dependent country on Africa’s west coast.
N.C. Wesleyan men’s soccer coach Frankie Taal was helping to collect equipment for teams in The Gambia during the summer of 2012, and when Northern Nash soccer coach Joe McCarthy received word, he knew the Knights could be helpful.
“He was collecting soccer gear to be able to send over to Gambia, to some of the soccer programs, and I said, ‘Look, I’ve got some really good uniforms we just aged out of after five years, and they’re in great shape,’” McCarthy said.
The Knights receive new uniforms about every five years, McCarthy said, and he had a set that wasn’t in use any longer.
So, instead of letting the uniforms sit in cardboard boxes, McCarthy donated them.
The kits made their way from McCarthy to Taal to another intermediary and finally to Hawks Football Club, a club program located in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul.
Hawks F.C. competes in the GFC League First Division, The Gambia’s highest level of club soccer, and the old Northern Nash jerseys ended up being worn by one of the club’s youth teams.
It was exactly what McCarthy wanted for the old uniforms.
“That’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “When I first got the pictures from Frankie, I sent them out to all the teachers and they were just amazed at the world-wide reach we have with soccer, and how we can help people outside of here.”
While The Gambia has been relatively stable, especially given its volatile region, the country’s need for aid is great. Much of The Gambia’s economy is based on agriculture, primarily peanuts and peanut products.
Northern Nash received feedback from Hawks F.C. in February, and Northern Nash hopes to make this a regular occurrence.
McCarthy said the Knights also have a solid green kit that they hope to send by Christmas.
In a country crazy about the game, McCarthy said donating was the right move.
“They play their heart out. That’s their passion, is soccer,” McCarthy said. “We’re glad to be able to get on board and help. It’s nice to see somebody else wearing our jerseys.”
In a letter to one of the intermediaries between Northern Nash and the Gambian club, the Assistant Secretary General of Hawks F.C., Sadibou Kamaso, expressed his gratitude for the donation.
“We are completely overwhelmed by this gesture and promise the items would be put to very good use,” Kamaso wrote. “I wish to take this opportunity to once again to thank you for the kind gesture. We remain grateful and fervently pray that the Almighty bless you in abundance, guide and protect you as well.”
McCarthy, who has been the Knights’ coach for 25 years, said this was one of the highlights of his time with the program.
“We were just very fortunate and feel very blessed to give them to someone who can use them,” he said. “They were more than more willing to have them, and the boys looked pretty good in them in the pictures.
“I wish a couple of them could come over and play for me.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz @rmtelegram.com