Donated Gear Helps Riau Village Players Enjoy the Beautiful Game

Cleaning out a closet and bringing used kit to the pitches once or twice a year seems a small task for ANZA Soccer families, but for a child on Bintan, it can mean a chance to play soccer in ‘real’ gear.

For the past three years, ANZA Soccer has partnered with The Island Foundation (TIF) to bring used soccer clothes, shoes, and equipment to keen players in less fortunate circumstances. Most Singapore expats probably don’t realise that we live on the northernmost island of the Riau Archipelago.

TIF is working to bridge the gap between Singapore and its Riau neighbours by helping villagers create a sustainable future for themselves. Among other ways TIF does this, ANZA Soccer’s kit drives benefit village families and their soccer-playing children. Our kit is taken by TIF volunteers to Bintan, where traditional villages have largely been left behind by tourist-zone resort developments. Overfishing, rising costs and a lack of investment in infrastructure and education mean coastal villagers have few ways to earn income. Our kit is passed to village women who act as distributors, selling items at very affordable prices from their homes. These distributors get a small percentage of sales, with the bulk used to fund TIF’s Football Academy Bintan (FAB) programme.

FAB organises football sessions in three villages – Pengudang, Panglong, and Berakit – and will include the offshore island of Kelong Desa in March. Seventy children take part, including a girls team of 17 players. FAB has recently organised a mini-league so teams play friendly matches against each other.

Beyond soccer skills, FAB players – like ANZA players – learn about fitness, teamwork, and responsibility. TIF fundraising also allows the employment of three village residents, Riyo, Gontor and Frans. Working full-time for TIF, one of their responsibilities is coaching the FAB players.

Though not trained coaches, they love the game and are eager to learn more formal coaching skills. ANZA Soccer is pleased to support them by sending Coach Yakob to Bintan after our season ends. He will run player and coach clinics for one or two days.

Next season, if there is interest, ANZA Soccer may organise for some of our older players to go on a service trip to help FAB, or play friendly games against the village teams.

According to TIF Executive Director Haryati Poston, ‘ANZA Soccer kit and gear is really in demand in the villages. They “sell” like hot cakes! We always have villagers asking us for new stocks. Thanks very much to ANZA Soccer and its community for your continued support!’

We look forward to bringing the ANZA Soccer and Football Academy of Bintan communities closer together in coming seasons. Thanks to all who donate kit to this worthy cause, and don’t forget to gather your unneeded soccer gear for our current kit drive.