It's a big feat if the boot fits
A family of football fans is spreading the joy of sports one pair of boots at a time.
The Lowe family from Mt Eden has been collecting pre-loved football boots that will be distributed to underprivileged children in South Auckland by the Pathways charity.
The charity is run by Mangawhau School's sports co-ordinator Marty Rodwell and his wife Florence.
Steve Lowe started the collection in June by putting out a box at the Three Kings United Football Club where he and his children play.
"I got chatting to Marty and he was saying, even though the kids can get grants to help with their sports fees, they can't get into sports because they can't buy the gear.
"We thought, looking at our kids and our friends, most people have got at least one pair lying around," Mr Lowe says.
He stopped counting after he brought home the 120th pair.
"Kids have so much gear and you can sell it at the end of the season, but the return is small and most people are happy if they think someone else can make use of it," he says.
It was his wife Liz's job to wash and dry them before they were stored in the family's garage.
Socks, shorts, shin pads and other gear was also donated.
Mr Rodwell says the boots will go a long way for those who receive them.
"We set Pathways up to help people in our community who don't get other help. A lot of families have too much pride to ask for help, but if you just turn up on the doorstep with stuff they're not going to say no," he says.
"It is good to get kids involved in a team environment and expose them to positive role models."
Mr Rodwell recalls one family where the mother had left and the father had become the sole carer of eight children.
Mr Rodwell gave one of the boys his football boots.
"They were about five sizes too big for him, but he was running around for ages in them. They probably won't even play a sport, they just love being able to kick a ball around the garden and be like the All Blacks."
He says sport is also a way of building a connection with families to make it easier to provide extra help like food parcels.
Mr Rodwell says the boot collection has been a pilot run to see if it could be done on a bigger scale.
Email email@example.com if you would like to donate pre-loved sports gear.