Boots joy for Tibetan team

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014

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Shane Kidby's passion for football has taken him to the hometown of the Dalai Lama to train its team of budding players.

The New Plymouth man sold his house and gave up his job as a sales representative to volunteer his time as a coach in Dharamsala, India.

Shane is preparing the Tibetan women's football team for a week-long football festival, which starts today in Manipur, a state in northeastern India.

He has been accompanied by wife Johanna and their two daughters, Meghan, 9, and Jessica, 12, and the family have been living in Dharamsala for the past 12 weeks.

Dharamsala is where the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is based.

Shane's father, Marty, told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday that 35 pairs of football boots were couriered last year for the Tibetan team.

"Johanna and Shane said the girls were playing in tennis shoes and bits and pieces like that," Marty said.

This prompted him to put out a collection box outside his wife's New Plymouth shop for people to drop shoes off.

Sending the parcel over was not without difficulties. The boots sat in New Delhi customs for 10 weeks and Marty had to pay $359 to have them released.

"I wasn't a recognised charity but if I were they wouldn't have charged anything. It would have gone straight through," he said.

But the smiles on the girls' faces upon receiving their boots made it worth the effort.

The overseas experience was also an enriching one for Meghan and Jessica, who helped out in a school reading English books to the students.

"The first thing people asked when they hear of the trip is ‘oh, what about the kids' schooling?" Marty said.

"But you know, schooling isn't everything. They are learning life skills and when they get back, I know they'll be a lot more matured than kids their age that stay at home."

Shane and Johanna also forked out $1000 out of their own pockets so five of the Tibetan girls could travel to Manipur with their team-mates.

It's not Taranaki's first recent contribution to the international football fraternity.

Last year, FC Western member Greg Hull ran a donation drive collecting football boots to be given to players in Fiji.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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