The generosity of strangers will ensure a 9-year-old Christchurch boy plays football this year.
The boy, who cannot be identified, appeared in The Press as one of six Canterbury children awaiting a sponsor through the Variety Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme, which encourages donations of at least $35 a month to help a child in need.
He and his 7-year-old brother live in the care of their aunt, Tammie Te Raki, and her husband after their father was jailed.
The couple work fulltime to support the boys and their three daughters, but money was too tight for the boy to play the sport he loves.
After reading the story, 32 Cantabrians contacted Variety - The Children's Charity wanting to sponsor a child. One has been matched with the boy and the rest will sponsor other children on the waiting list.
Mainland Football has offered to pay for him and his brother to play for a local club.
Tammie Te Raki said her nephew was stoked he would be able to play. "It's a big deal for him to be able to do it."
The money would make a dramatic difference to the family, she said.
Mainland Football marketing and communications manager Wanda Luinenburg said the federation's purpose was to lead, inspire and deliver football in the region and it wanted to provide every child with the opportunity to play.
"The fact that these children love to play football but are denied opportunities to do so through no fault of their own is heart-breaking," she said.
Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said the response was heart-warming at a time when the number of children seeking sponsorship outweighed the number of sponsors.
For more information on the programme, visit www.variety.org.nz.
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