Footy club flies shirts and boots to Fiji

Zavier Barton in Fiji with new friends.

Susanna Freymark

In a remote village in Fiji, children are walking around wearing Casino RSM Cobras jerseys.

A few weeks ago Claire and Brett Barton from the Casino Cobras Football Club travelled to Fiji on holiday with their two sons, Joshua, 22, and Zavier, 12.

Claire and Brett are on the Casino Cobras committee and they spend two hours a week cleaning the new clubhouse at Colley Park.

Claire has worked in childcare for 20 years, and she needed a family holiday.

She squeezed as much she could into their suitcases – the 30 jerseys that the club couldn’t use anymore because the sponsors had changed, boots, tennis balls, soccer balls, stationery and books.

A Fijian child enjoying the soccer ball from Casino Intersport.

Gavin Scott from Intersport in Casino donated six soccer balls.

In Fiji, Claire made connections with some local women who took the Barton family to their homes.

“All the kids from the village came and my sons gave out the shirts and balls,” Claire said.

“The kids sang a thank you song.”

Claire always dreamed of going to Fiji. The family camped for years at Woody Head but Fiji was such a wonderful trip, and Claire is keeping in touch with the people she met.

“There was never a moment you didn’t see a Fijian without a smile on their face,” Claire said.

Unwrapping the Casino Cobras merchandise.

The people in the villages had so little, she said. Their homes had concrete floors and grass mats.

There was no TV, Claire said but they had mobile phones.

“The looks on the kids’ faces were amazing because football boots are too expensive there.”

Back in Casino, with Fiji almost 3000 km, Claire is collecting more footy boots to send to the villages.

Joshua Barton hands out the gifts in Fiji. Photos: Contributed

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