KitAid Interview – ISC 2024

KitAid is a charity that gives sports kit “a second life” with people who desperately need it.

Founded by Derrick Williams around 25 years ago, it partners with organisations across the UK to source used apparel which can then be distributed to disadvantaged people across Africa, South America and Eastern Europe.

Williams explains that KitAid works with clients throughout the English football pyramid, getting support from the Football Association and Premier League giants like Manchester United and Arsenal to name a few. Non-league and grassroots clubs also contribute to a collection of around 100,000 items of donated kits each year.

Expansion brings its share of challenges for KitAid. The charity does not currently receive grant funding and must also pay for storage units, with Williams noting that it has become something of a “victim of our own success” as more and more kits arrive. Nevertheless, the drive continues, with contributions coming in over week before ISC 2024 from the England and Wales Cricket Board, the FA and British Canoeing, and Liverpool FC due to add its own batch shortly after the event. Fundraising and logistical solutions are the next steps for KitAid as it seeks to grow its impact.

Working with athletes has also helped it to build awareness and make an authentic connection. Legendary distance runner Sir Mo Farah has donated his own apparel to KitAid, and will soon travel to his birthplace of Somalia to personally share donations with local children. Williams stressed how vital Farah’s efforts have been for KitAid already, with his support on social media helping the charity develop its visibility online.

Williams was honored to that KitAid was chosen as the official charity partner of the International Sports Convention 2024 and thanked Nigel Fletcher and his team for their consideration. This year’s conference was an invaluable opportunity, he said, to meet like-minded people and organisations whose networks could yield crucial supplies of sportswear, expertise and financial backing.

“It’s been great for us,” he added. “This is our second day and we’ve spoken to loads of people who are all interested in the kitAid story. They’ve got their own network of contacts that we can tap into.”

During the event, Williams received several offers from companies and teams who wanted to get involved in the KitAid mission. One example was a new contact from India, who wanted to put Williams in touch with a neighbour in charge of a major project on the subcontinent. Williams hopes that help “goes both ways”, noting that KitAid has also been learning of other organisations who it can support through its own initiatives.

For this small volunteer-run charity, an event like ISC provides a welcome platform for growth, education and credibility that can lead to a brighter future.