Kids who participate in youth sports accumulate a variety of benefits: self-confidence, discipline, a healthy body and team spirit. They also accumulate a pile of old uniforms and equipment.
Michael Vernau, a Holmes Junior High eighth-grader and soccer player, wants to put those old uniforms to good use.
“About a month ago, my coach (who is Nigerian) asked my team if we had any spare jerseys, shorts, socks, shin guards and boots lying around that we could donate to his old Nigerian high school, which is not fortunate enough to have equipment,” Michael said.
“I looked in my drawers and had tons of previous (AYSO) Select and fall soccer uniforms, as well as old cleats, doing nothing but collecting dust,” Michael continued. “Ever since, I have been thinking: How many other people have former uniforms that aren’t ever used, and how many more impoverished kids could use them?”
Michael’s coach happens to be Jammal Anibaba, father of Chicago Fire defender Jalil Anibaba, a 2007 Davis High School graduate. Anibaba’s two other sons, Sule and Jammil, also played soccer for Davis High and UC Davis.
Jammal Anibaba inspired Michael to start a donation program, which he, in turn, hopes will inspire locals to look through their old soccer uniforms and gear for items to pass along.
Michael pointed out that “most AYSO Select teams end their season after the Davis World Cup” — a tournament being played all over Davis through Monday — so players with extra clothing or equipment might be ready to donate now.
Michael’s mom, Karen, pointed out, “He will happily accept dirty uniforms — he is now all trained up in how to wash clothes!”
To donate, people can call or text Michael at 530-304-9450, or email him at [email protected]. He will arrange to pick up donations and “send them off to help children across the globe experience the benefits and joys of this great game.”