A BOOT bank initiative which kicked off with the goal of kitting out one young player has netted a huge band of supporters.
Wickersley Youth coaches Geoff Swann and Bob Sanderson teamed up to help a boy wearing boots a size too small, whose parents could not afford to buy him a new pair.
After posting an appeal on social media, the pair were stunned to receive a wave of offers of help.
“It started off with this one lad but just grew and grew,” said Geoff.
“We’ve collected dozens of pairs of boots, many of them still in good condition, at the Rotherham Football Centre in Eastwood.
“Children and their parents can come along, see if we have their size, and have a pair for free. All we ask is they bring them back when they’re done with them.”
Geoff, who was the manager of top Sunday League side AFP for more than 30 years, said he had been shocked by how popular the appeal had proved.
“I had some of my ex-players saying they had pairs of up to size 12 and I said why not - after all, kids grow,” he added.
“Within a few days of putting the appeal online, we’d heard from two charities who wanted to work with us and Rotherham Round Table got in touch, too.
“The idea is if someone comes for a pair of boots and we don’t have their size, we will buy them a pair.”
The boot bank can also be used by youngsters who begin training at the football centre, meaning their parents don’t have to shell out for boots straight away.
The bank’s “stock” is shared with the charity Sarah’s Goal, which distributes boots across South Yorkshire.
Rotherham Round Table backed the boot bank with a cheque for £500.
Outgoing chairman Matt Ridsdale said: “This is a fantastic way of helping young children get into sport and offers an opportunity for children to always benefit from correctly fitting football boots.
“When Geoff approached us, asking for our support, we were only too happy to help.”
Donations can be made at the football centre during its opening hours.