The year of 2009 was another record one for SOS IRB Kit Aid. The IRB-endorsed charity, which collects donated kit and equipment from clubs, schools and suppliers in the UK and distributes it to grateful recipients in developing rugby nations, enjoyed its most successful 12 months ever.
Despite the difficult economic climate around the world, the UK-based charity increased deliveries by 18 percent last year with a record 32 drops across 13 countries on three continents, including first deliveries to Kenya and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The other countries to receive much-needed rugby kit in 2009 were Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, Swaziland and the Ukraine.
"By the end of our ninth year of operation, SOS IRB Kit Aid will have delivered nearly £2 million worth of quality, recycled rugby kit to some 16 emerging nations," revealed founder and Chairman John Broadfoot.
"Nearly 60,000kg of good quality rugby kit that would now be lying wasted and rotting in environmentally damaging and scarce landfill sites were it not for SOS and the IRB diverting this kit to delighted emerging rugby federations across the world.
The ability to attract extra funding from companies like HSBC for the 2009 British & Irish Lions Community Programme also made a difference in the calendar year, and bodes well for the future.
"Demand for our services increased with a waiting list of 56 emerging rugby nations across the world wanting kit in addition to the 16 IRB SOS Kit Aid has already supplied," added Broadfoot.
Breaking new ground
The last 12 months have provided many highlights, including the charity being shortlisted for the prestigious "Beyond Sport" Environmental Award.
The charity will also break new ground in early 2010 with a first delivery to Oceania, having been asked by the IRB to send kit to Samoa in the wake of the devastating tsunami.
"We have witnessed many well publicised kit collection days at Premiership clubs in England, including at Bath, Worcester, London Irish and Gloucester," added Broadfoot
"We also receive a lot of new kit from most of the leading UK kit distributors, as well as massive kit donations from the RFU, Welsh Rugby Union and Gullivers among others.
"We now have two bright red "SOS Boot Barrels" permanently in the main RFU reception area and recycling is becoming a key issue with UK and Irish companies and will be another issue we will be pushing as part of our 2010 strategy.
"With Rugby Sevens now being included on the Olympic programme from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, demand for kit will undoubtedly increase from countries not already on our waiting list."
To donate kit or find out more about SOS IRB Kit Aid visit www.sosirbkitaid.org.
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