NORTON, Mass. – The Wheaton College women's soccer team recently collected used soccer equipment to donate to The Anglican Church of Bulawayo, which is the second largest city in Zimbabwe.
Sophomore Joy-Marie Fernandes, along with sophomore teammates Christina Angione and Kristina Braga, and field hockey sophomore Victoria Studley, developed the idea and approached their teammates about collecting the equipment. Fernandes' father, Boston University assistant men's soccer coach Francis Okaroh, has made several recruiting trips through Zimbabwe and informed the group of this church, which has many children who are fond of soccer.
"We thought this would be a great way to give back to the community," said Fernandes. "Community service is such a large part of what Wheaton College is all about, and our entire team was so excited and proud to be able to organize something like this."
The student-athletes collected numerous jerseys, t-shirts, socks, shin guards, and cleats to send overseas to the church.
"When Joy-Marie told me about this idea, I thought it was wonderful," said Wheaton head women's soccer coach Luis Reis. "Sometimes I tell my players before training that they need to realize how fortunate they are to be alive, healthy, attending a great college, living in this country and playing in our soccer program. I remind them that many people around the world don't have what we have. I am proud that Joy-Marie took the initiative for this worthy cause, to give to others who have a lot less than we do. It's a great gesture tied into our sport. Well done to Joy-Marie, Christina, Nina and Victoria."