Of all of the places you would find Chelmsford City claret, Africa is unlikely to be many people’s first thought.
However, thanks to the Ladies’ team’s Founder and Club Secretary, Dawn Barnard MBE, the Club’s colours have found their way to the continent.
Over a number of years and through multiple donations, Clarets kits have made their way to various African countries.
Dawn explained: “Well, over the years you build up a lot of kit and because it’s got our badge on it, which is unique to us, when we don’t need it anymore you can’t pass it on to anybody in this country.
“There are lots of teams in Africa who are grateful to have any kit. So, many years ago, I contacted KitAid and they sent one of their reps around. I emptied one of our cupboards and filled his VW Golf – the boot, the back seat, the footwells, everything.
“We had a massive clear out, all the kits went to Africa and we got some nice photos back of the kids all wearing the kit, which was really nice.”
The donations of Ladies’ and Girls’ teams’ kits didn’t stop there either, with Dawn sending more kits over to the world’s second-largest continent whenever there was surplus.
“A few years later, I was in a similar position,” she said.
“So, a friend of mine who works at the County FA, her dad was going to Ghana through his church, and they were taking out football kits. So, I sent another seven football kits out to Ghana with him.
“Last year, during the pandemic, I realised that I couldn’t get anything else in my cupboard under the stairs and that I really needed to have a sort out. I had 12 huge kit bags which were packed tight with kit.
“I took them to a lady who lives over in Ongar and then she managed to get them out to Africa.
“So, I don’t know how many kits over the years we’ve actually passed on but again, we’ve had some nice photos back with all the kids having happy faces with the kit on.
“It’s like spreading our claret around the world really.”
With the Ladies’ team’s Founder and Club Secretary having previously been responsible for washing every Ladies’ and Girls’ teams’ kits following a matchday, plenty of kit has passed through her possession.
However, Dawn revealed that it is very much part of her ethos to not waste anything when it is no longer needed, even if it is worn out.
She said: “I believe in recycling and finding a good home for something, even if it’s totally knackered then I donate it to the Farleigh Hospice because they take all the rags and worn-out stuff and that goes on to be recycled but they still get money for it.
“There was nothing wrong with any of the kits other than nobody in this country was going to want something that said ‘Chelmsford City Ladies’ and Girls’ Football Club’ on it.
“I’d much rather it goes somewhere where it can carry on being used and it’s just nice having that link, knowing that other kids are using it. It just makes their day to have matching stuff.”
The donations did not stop at kits either, with tracksuits and boots having also been sent to Africa.
“I’ve sent tracksuits out, boots as well,” Dawn stated.
“When the girls get new boots and they don’t want their old ones, they give them to me and for a while, I had lots of boots in the back of my car, but I ended up with like 40 pairs of boots.
“I probably had more than the shoe shops did! So, I thought they had to go and the people who were taking the kit said, ‘Yeah, they’d love those!’ So, all these football boots went out there as well.”