Chiefs’ Generosity Reaches Soccer Fields in South Africa


Courtesy of Abongile Qasana

Young athletes from Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town, South Africa celebrate the arrival of their new uniforms, donated by Nonnewaug’s athletic department.

Gillian Brown, Clubs/Activities Editor

WOODBURY — Before Thanksgiving break, the Nonnewaug athletic department donated soccer uniforms to a youth athletic program in Cape Town, South Africa. 

This effort began with athletic director Declan Curtin approaching the Region 14 Board of Education about community projects in which his department could potentially be involved. Region 14 superintendent Joseph Olzacki, having personal contacts in Africa, was able to reach out to a South African community that was in need of athletic equipment. 

Nonnewaug’s athletic department was quick to act, and Curtin pulled uniforms from previous soccer seasons out of storage to be sent to the children in Cape Town. 

Within days, photos of the young athletes playing and celebrating in their new uniforms were sent back to the school, and the community in South Africa expressed its thanks for Nonnewaug’s generosity. 

“We thought the story was over and done with then,” said Curtin, who led the school’s efforts in this venture. “But after the article in the Republican-American, word spread quickly and several more local schools reached out.”

Indeed, an article published in the Republican-American newspaper soon after the uniform drive did bring more widespread attention to the athletic department’s efforts. The news, which inspired outreach from several other schools and members of the community, also caught the attention of a locally-based nonprofit, Futbol Friends International

The organization, which focuses on raising money for youth around the world who cannot afford athletic resources and equipment, saw what Nonnewaug had already accomplished and offered to partner with the school for similar future endeavors. 

This partnership soon saw itself realized in Futbol Friends’ online fundraising effort, Giving Tuesday. During the Dec. 1 event, donors raised more than $3,000 for the organization in a single day. According to a representative of Futbol Friends International, this is more money than they have ever made from a single-day fundraiser before. 

The collection of donations was helped a great deal by Nonnewaug’s own athletic community, specifically the girls soccer team. For the entire day, players were active on social media, promoting the organization’s efforts and even taking donations themselves. 

Mia Higgins, a senior on Nonnewaug’s girls soccer team and president of the Nonnewaug Athlete’s Council, applauded her peers’ efforts and stressed the importance of their work.

“We are very fortunate to have the life we do — brand new athletic fields, a beautiful school campus, new uniforms and an amazing student fan section,” Higgins said. “By helping this cause, we are helping players across the world experience similar opportunities to what we have.”

Nonnewaug’s involvement is certainly helping a unique and important cause. Not only do kids in less fortunate circumstances get access to equipment and supplies, but Futbol Friends International makes sure to send the money to those who need it, rather than purchasing what is needed here, in order to help support the local economies in these areas. 

In the future, Futbol Friends International would love to see even more involvement from students in the community.

“Futbol Friends is always looking to get more young people involved,” said Sophia Bourgeois, president of Futbol Friends International.

Not only does community work like this look great on a resume, but students would also be working toward a great cause and connecting with people from all over the world. Those interested in getting involved can send a message to Futbol Friends’ Instagram account, @futbolfriendsint, check out their website at, or working directly with their and Nonnewaug’s joint efforts, such as the additional cleats donation drive for the community in South Africa that will be held as soon as students return to in-person classes. 

In terms of community involvement, Nonnewaug has done some amazing work so far, and with continued support from new friends at Futbol Friends International, there are no signs of stopping.