Lake Norman & Mooresville

4 teens collect cleats to send love of soccer to less fortunate

Mount Mourne IB School eighth-grade students, from left, Garrett Livingston, Doug Sutherland, Matthew Robinson and Jonathan Kang, are collecting new and used soccer equipment to send to kids in Mongolia who don’t have proper equipment to play the sport safely.
Mount Mourne IB School eighth-grade students, from left, Garrett Livingston, Doug Sutherland, Matthew Robinson and Jonathan Kang, are collecting new and used soccer equipment to send to kids in Mongolia who don’t have proper equipment to play the sport safely.

Four young men in Mooresville who share a love for soccer are helping to enrich the lives of children living thousands of miles away.

Jonathan Kang, Garrett Livingston, Doug Sutherland and Matthew Robinson, all 14 and eighth-grade students at Mount Mourne IB School, have started a service project called Soccer Around the World to collect used or new soccer cleats, socks, balls and shin guards to send to children in Mongolia.

The group has collected about 50 pairs of used cleats and will send the equipment with friends of Kang’s parents who are traveling to Mongolia in July as part of a Love for Mongolia mission trip.

The boys, members of the Lake Norman Soccer Club, will place donation bins at Mazeppa Park May 15-18 and May 22-25.

Kang said the project kicked off last year when his mom noticed pictures posted online by her missionary friends who had traveled to Papua New Guinea.

The photos showed people playing soccer with beat-up soccer equipment because the country is so poor, Kang said.

And that sparked an idea.

“She noticed how I was outgrowing my cleats very fast, so she wanted to donate them to a good cause,” Kang said. “So, she decided to collect some cleats to send to Papua New Guinea.”

Last year, Kang’s mother collected 30 pairs of cleats to send to Papua New Guinea.

But this year, Kang and his friends took over the project and formed Soccer Around the World to help spread the word.

“I think it’s a good cause,” said Sutherland. “Jonathan and I are friends so I thought it would be kind of cool.”

“Whenever I go into my garage, I see all these cleats I never use,” said Livingston. “Instead of throwing them away, it would be better to give them to someone who doesn’t even have them.”

Robinson said he enjoys playing soccer and wanted to allow other kids to play like he does.

With 50 pairs of cleats already collected from South Iredell Soccer Association donations at Stumpy Creek Park, the group has already exceeded last year’s donations, Kang said.

While a good deed, the project also counts towards a required high school project needed to graduate, said Sutherland.

The boys chose soccer as the sport to collect equipment for because so many people, including themselves, play it worldwide.

“As Pelé said, it’s the beautiful game,” said Livingston. “A lot of countries play it in their free time. Basically, the whole world plays it.”

Kate Stevens is a freelance writer: katebethstevens@icloud.com.

Learn more

Email the boys at socceraroundtheworldd@gmail.com for information.

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