English soccer team supports Palestinian aid

The slogan ‘Palestine Aid’ will be emblazoned on Kettering Town’s shirts for their FA Cup tie with Eastwood Town

By JON HENDERSON, The Guardian

Kettering Town’s shirt, showing support for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, which they will wear in the FA Cup tomorrow. Photograph: Action Images

LONDON (January 2, 2009) – SHIRTS worn by players in an FA Cup tie tomorrow will be the unlikely advertising hoarding for the plight of Palestinians. Kettering Town will have the slogan Palestine Aid emblazoned on their kit to show their support for Interpal, a charitable organisation which distributes aid in the Palestinian territories.

“We are trying to raise awareness and charitable funds for the refugees in Palestine,” Imraan Ladak, the Kettering chairman, said of the association with Interpal that began before the escalation last month of the conflict in Gaza.

Ladak, 30, chief executive of a recruitment business based in Milton Keynes, has no personal links with Palestine. “I just think there are certain areas in the world that are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, for whatever reason,” he said, “and Palestine is the one that’s suffering the most.

“It’s difficult with Palestine because, particularly at present, it comes with lots of political debate and arguments, but they’re not important. I think what is important is that people are suffering the worst possible conditions.

“Support has been huge – in Kettering and from outside – and from all sorts of people, whether it be the local church, others charities, or MPs, humanitarians or local people. We have had very few people who have criticised us. Quite a few people have asked questions, and rightly so. Debate and people asking questions are part of it because it increases awareness of different situations. We’re trying to promote the fact that regardless of anything else, human life’s really important and we need to do everything we can to bring this to public attention.”

Normally clubs take money for advertising on their shirts. “This is better than giving a direct charitable donation,” Ladak said. “Not taking money is the same as giving a donation.”

Kettering have a history of breaking new ground when it comes to shirt advertising. While Liverpool were the first professional club to be sponsored – by Hitachi in 1979 – Kettering beat them to it by three years. When the former Wolves striker Derek Dougan became the club’s chief executive, he brokered a four-figure deal with the local firm Kettering Tyres and on 24 January 1976 Kettering became the first British club to run out with a company’s name on their shirts.

Ladak said he came up with the idea to support Palestine after an initiative started by Barcelona. In 2006, the Spanish club formed a partnership with UNICEF to benefit children in the developing world. In addition to the UNICEF-branded jersey, Barcelona agreed to donate at least €1.5m per year to the UN charity over five years to support programmes for children all over the world.

Aston Villa are another club to have formed such a partnership. The name of Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust has been on their shirts this season.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/jan/02/kettering-town-palestine

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