SOS Kit Aid

Heading:         As SOS Kit Aid enters its 20th year, I catch up with the CEO to find out

                         how it all started

Q and A:          John Broadfoot 

By                    Michelle Beet, Marketing Communications Consultant


Figure 1  John Broadfoot, CEO SOS Kit Aid

So, John, tell me how it all began? And what motivated you to create and get SOS Kit Aid off the ground?

Before launching SOS Kit Aid, I worked in the oil Industry for the Global brand Shell Oil.  I retired back in October 2000.  

The idea behind SOS Kit Aid came to fruition after my youngest son went on rugby tour to Romania.  I was struck by the lack of kit that was available for the youngsters playing.  Rugby was regarded as a sport for the elite at that time in Romania and  I was keen to do something about it.  I’m all too familiar with the amount of excess sports kit some families have at home, with children out-growing it, and moving onto other sports or activities. Every season, rugby clubs change their sponsors, schools change their colours, so huge quantities of perfectly good quality rugby kit becomes obsolete and needlessly thrown away. And this happens often – so the supply of kit is endless.  We estimate over £1 million worth of quality recyclable rugby kit is thrown away every year.  

I decided to put together a collection of kit and went out to my ‘rugby’ contacts and was staggered to find the vast quantity of kit not being used, which could be put to good use.

This gave me the idea, and from here it was born.

Q When and why?  Why is it so important? Who benefits?

SOS Kit Aid is going into its 20th year this year.  And we’ve learnt a lot since launch all that time ago.

Our vision is to give all youngsters access to sport, and in doing so reduce the amount of sports kit in landfill sites.  We want to recycle sports kit for the benefit of young people overseas so that they are given a sporting chance.

We make a real and positive impact on youngsters by giving them the chance to participate in sporting activities and promote a chance to gain all the life skills of teamwork, self-discipline and friendship that comes from playing a team sport.  On top of that,  we are helping to protect the environment.

We are helping disadvantaged young people between the ages of 6 and 18 get access to much needed sports kit.  And just as important, kit which would have been mounting up in landfill sites.

And here’s some of the numbers supporting our achievements:-

  • £6 million worth of quality rugby kit delivered 
  • 44 emerging rugby countries benefitted
  • Enough kit for a quarter of a million youngsters to play 
  • Nearly 1000 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions saved
  • Over 200 tonnes of quality rugby kit saved from being thrown away

Q What are the biggest challenges facing charities like SOS Kit Aid?   

One of the biggest challenges facing us is around distribution of the kit.  Once we’ve had the kit donated, it’s a big task to sort it and get it transported to other parts of the world.  We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, some of whom provide storage space and help support with the distribution.  But as on ongoing piece, this is an area which becomes ever more challenging.  The cost of transporting kit is a large expense.

We are always looking for support from sponsors and partners.

And, of course, COVID 19 has had an impact.  All charities will have suffered across 2020, donations both in goods and financial support will have been reduced.

Q How involved are you now in the day-to-day stuff?

I’m less involved now than I used to be but run the charity jointly with Richard Westaway and Andy Thompson.   We are passionate about moving this onto the next level, and the opportunities are immense.

Q What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

Apart from obviously wanting to see us all get back to normal as soon as we can and hoping that the pandemic gets under control, our main thoughts are around continuing and expanding the great work that SOS Kit Aid delivers; looking to inspire more young people through sporting activities; continuing to reduce the amount of kit in landfill sites thereby helping to protect the environment and hoping to engage more partners and companies to support us.  

There are so many opportunities with this project, and it does have the ability to be rolled out across other sports.  

Watch this space.