Soldier’s call for donations to help teach rugby league to kids in Africa

Former Royal Engineer Tom Coney is looking for old rugby kits to be donated to a project in Kenya.
Former Royal Engineer Tom Coney is looking for old rugby kits to be donated to a project in Kenya.

A former soldier is looking for donations of second hand kits so disadvantaged children in Kenya can play rugby league.

Tom Coney, 27, from Altofts, work with his friend Gem Denis while serving in the East African country in the Royal Engineers.

Training: Pupils at Gem Denis' academy in Kenya.

Training: Pupils at Gem Denis' academy in Kenya.

Gem coaches girls and boys, – many of whom are orphans – in rugby and helps them get into education.

Now Tom is appealing to his rugby league heartland home to donate their used kits to send to Gem and his pupils in Kenya so they can take part in the sport.

Castleford Tigers fan Tom said: “Gem does some absolutely brilliant work out there.

“I’ve seen girls having to play rugby in dresses and with no shoes so we’re looking put clothes on the backs of kids who have nothing.

“We throw out old gear all the time and it’s a travesty when you think about it.

“We’re trying to share something that we easily take for granted in the UK.”

He said the need for equipment was always there given some the tough circumstances that many children in Kenya live. He added: “It’s sad to say but there are always more orphans and always a new demand for equipment.”

Tom and Gem met while the latter was working in a civilian role in IT for the British Army.

Gem’s rugby project provides training to children to boys and girls in primary and secondary schools, orphanages, and other communities in Kenya.

He has helped hundreds of children learn the sport.

Tom said in Kenya only primary school is free – and attendance is not always enforced – but if a child shows potential in rugby league they stand a greater chance of being offered a scholarship.

The pair are looking for boots, socks and any other sports kits.

If you want to donate your old gear or sponsor a box of equipment call Tom on 07397 182007 or search Gem Rugby on Facebook.