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Monday 4 September 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Soccer, Sports


Budding footballers get bonus ‘boots and all’
Harold Rassmussen, 14, from left, Mahuta Rassmussen, 14, Sharon Pascoe and Wayne Parrott at Nikao on Saturday. 23090325

Aussie couple and soccer fanatics Sharon Pascoe and Wayne Parrott have spent the past 12 months collecting 581 pairs of football boots and 110 pairs of shin pads which were delivered to Rarotonga on the weekend.

The items were donated by Australians after the couple visited Rarotonga 12 months ago and were motivated to provide our junior footballers with footwear when they saw young players sharing football boots.

They worked alongside the Australia Government, Jetstar, the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee and their favourite club Central Coast Mariners, among others to get the gear and then get it here.

“We came to Rarotonga in September 2022 and watched junior players taking off their boots and sharing them with each other, we thought we can’t have that,” Pascoe said.

Dozens of young players lined up Nikao on Saturday to pick out a pair of boots.

Pascoe said she and Parrott put a call out to multiple people and organisations, including politicians back home in Australia to help out.

Along with nearly 600 pairs of boots and 110 pairs of shin pads, they also presented players with 325 pairs of socks on Saturday.

It all amounted to 335 kilograms of “excess” luggage - assisted by Jetstar.

Long serving Cook Islands sports administrator Hugh Graham was on hand to thank all those who contributed.

The couple started the campaign called Footy Boots for the Cook Islands and six months later, they surpassed their goal of 200 pairs.

Raukura Ellison from the Cook Island Sport and National Olympic Committee told ABC in June  the couple were removing a barrier – the anxiety about having boots.

Children can play, and that cost could be alleviated.

The biggest challenge in the campaign was figuring out how to get the gear to the Cook Islands.

Pascoe and Parrott were initially quoted more than $3,000 in freight costs, so they sought help from a local MP.

They emailed Minister for the Pacific Pat Conroy, who helped set up transport of the boots.

Conroy earlier said it was a win-win.

"These kids who pull on these boots, they'll automatically think of Australia," he said.

"The generosity of Australians supporting other members of the Pacific family ... that can only help our relationship in the region, and secondly give these kids a chance to play sport."