Project Front Foot Midsummer Report

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“My return to the UK in late April coincided with the conclusion to our first major fundraising event with project stalwart, Tim Gill, completing the London Marathon in the creditable time of 3:46:03, in the process making £1,500 for project funds. Many thanks again to all who sponsored Tim.

This was followed shortly after by a donation of £250 from the 2nd Lincoln (St George’s) Scout Group. The latter donation will to be used for footwear. The more keen-eyed viewers of PFF’s website galleries will notice that while the pictures of our net sessions show the kids in all manner of protective clothing while at the crease – all are batting either in flip-flops, sandals or, worse still, barefoot! Our footwear needs can be met by an early morning visit to the Chota Bazaar in the centre of Dharavi.

I can also reveal that, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor in London, we will soon have the necessary funds to apply for charitable status with the Charities Commission. This will bring numerous benefits, not least from a fundraising point of view. As the project grows in size and stature, so the need for funds and sponsorship becomes ever more urgent.

Shortly after returning from Mumbai in mid-March, I contacted the club shops at all the first-class counties along with the respective Cricket Boards’ for both the first-class and minor counties. This produced immediate results with MKK Sports, who provide kit for Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex, promising a small mountain of kit made obsolete by sponsorship changes. This was followed by further offers of kit from Cricket Wales and the respective Cricket Boards of Kent, Worcestershire and Cornwall. Thus, during a frenetic week in early May, PFF travelled to Eastbourne, Canterbury, Cardiff, Worcester and Truro. The 1,500 mile odyssey is graphically detailed in the website gallery titled Seven Days in May. All of which made a healthy start to our 2011 Summer Kit Appeal.

During April I was able to obtain a favourable quote from Jet Airways for freighting our kit to Mumbai in October, the proviso being that we take 500 kilos. A daunting target ordinarily, but not so after the huge amount of kit collected during the early weeks of our appeal.

Away from the first-class game we further benefited from kit kindly donated by the junior section of the Lindum Cricket Club in Lincoln and the Sulhamstead & Ufton Cricket Club in Berkshire. All of which has been sorted, bagged and boxed, and occupies much of our storage space in Reading.

With the majority of our kids requiring small or, at the most, medium sizes, there was always likely to be a surplus where larger kit was concerned. I’m happy to report that we have found a home for this in the guise of our friends at Cricket Without Boundaries. The remaining kit, comprising of larger sizes still and winter clothing, will be placed with homeless charities in London.

Not that this spells the end of our kit appeal: far from it. Before July is out, and thanks to the help of PFF volunteer Tony Cross, we have kit to collect from the Derbyshire Cricket Board before heading to Leeds and the Headingley club shop. All this, and still two months of the club season remaining: two more months in which to seek out further kit from clubs within the county and across the border in Nottinghamshire.

Away from the kit front, I have two items of breaking news. Firstly, I have been approached by representatives of the Honourable Artillery Company Cricket Club in London who are keen to participate in the project in some form next season. Secondly, news has just reached me from deepest Rajasthan where Samanda Black is in the process of setting up a sister project to PFF in  in the small village community of Jairampura.

Samanda, you may recall, received some of our kit last November. All appeared to be going well in that she had her squad of children, had nominated a captain and had found a piece of waste ground on which to practice, only to find, on returning from Australia after Christmas, her ground had been planted with wheat. Net sessions were duly suspended until after the harvest. Now it transpires that her ground is a corn field! We wish Samanda well in her quest for cricket amid crop rotation.

Given such a positive response to our summer kit appeal, plans are already afoot for a return to Mumbai in mid-October. And no ordinary visit, either. In four previous visits to Dharavi since the autumn of 2009 I have been able to take a total in excess of 500 kilos of kit. The upcoming visit, however, will see a further 500 kilos in one hit! Reason enough to stay for six weeks to oversee both the kit distribution and the start of our third season.

Finally, sincere thanks to all those who have contributed to Project Front Foot in the past weeks and months whether in the form of kit, equipment, sponsorship, transport, storage, media coverage or simply by being on hand to provide advice and assurance.”

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