Dozens of youngsters in Tanzania are proudly sporting Pools’ colours after a shipment of kit was donated to deprived areas.
Tom Buller volunteered to spend 10 weeks in two villages in the East African country earlier this year as part of a gap year in his studies.
When his friend, lifelong Pools fan, Mike Bell, heard about the trip he suggested Tom contact Hartlepool United 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 he visited was Ikaning’ombe, which is in the Munfedi region of central Tanzania.
Tom, who is from Leeds, said: “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.
I distributed some of the Hartlepool kits to the local youth team there and they are now using it as their new home coloursTom Buller
“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.”
Tom, who is going on to study law at the University of Nottingham, said he was hugely grateful to Hartlepool United for the kit.
He said: “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.”