Dozens of youngsters in Tanzania are proudly sporting Pools colours after a shipment of kit was donated to deprived areas in the East African country during the summer.
Tom Buller volunteered to spend ten weeks in two villages in Tanzania back in June as part of a Raleigh International project during his gap-year before going to study Law at University in Nottingham.
His friend and Pools fan Mike Bell suggested he contact the Club to see whether there were any spare kits he could take with him to the villages, where football is a hugely important part of local life.
Pools managed to pull together plenty of full kits for Tom to take on his travels and the donation resulted in many thrilled children who are now adopted fans of the Club.
“The first village I visited was Ikaning’ombe which is in the Munfedi region of central Tanzania,” explained Tom.
“It was a village with no internet, only three working televisions and it was a two-hour bus ride if you wanted to visit the nearest town.
“Football was enormously popular there, games would take place daily between local teams and would always attract a good crowd.
“I distributed some of the Hartlepool kits to the local Youth Team there and they are now using it as their new home colours – and the village chairman even re-named the team after me!
“There was enough kit to give some to other youngsters in the village and it’s difficult to articulate their gratitude in words – suffice to say, I didn’t see a single one of them take off their Pools kit for the entire week, they just couldn’t believe it.”
Whilst in Ikaning’ombe, Tom helped plant 150,000 trees which will support and sustain the local timber economy, and he also did some teaching in the village primary school.
His second stop was in Nyamweizi where he found residents equally obsessed with football and where the only tax that was taken from people was used to build a “football hut” where games from most English divisions were screened.
“I can only thank Hartlepool United for donating the kit,” said Tom.
“It has made a huge impact on their kids there and it was quite special for me to be able to deliver it to them in the summer.”