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Blackrock Women Kit Out Kenyan Schoolgirls

Blackrock Women Kit Out Kenyan Schoolgirls

The Blackrock Women’s squad were delighted to donate two sets of playing jerseys to St. Patrick’s Secondary School in Makunga, near Kitale in Kenya.

Blackrock Women’s team manager Liz Comerford met with Fr. Willie Walshe (pictured below) and Paula Cullen, mother of Blackrock’s own Leo and Owen Cullen, when Fr. Walshe was back home on holiday to Ireland.

Paula does a lot of charity work for the Kiltegan fathers, helping with donations and has raised a considerable amount of money for the development of the school. The girls in St. Patrick’s were delighted to receive the kit.

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Paula is the brains behind the ‘Boots for Kenya’ initiative to collect all the Leinster players’ boots or runners they no longer need and donate them to the pupils of St. Patrick’s in Makunga.

The demand to support the initiative resulted in Paula and her husband Frank embarking on a trip to Kenya armed with several kit-bags full of unwanted gear.

The school opened in 2010 with a single classroom and just three pupils. They continued fundraising, this time for a new rugby pitch with an athletics track around the side.

The pupils immediately started playing rugby, gleefully trying out the kit and oval shaped ball for the first time in their lives. The students finished their first rugby season in 10th position out of 24 teams in their division.

By all accounts, there is some raw rugby talent in St. Patrick’s. Paula is pictured below presenting Felix Kipkemboi with his prize as the overall winner of the sports day at the official opening of the sports grounds in St. Patrick’s.

The students’ love of sport has been encouraged by Fr. Walshe, a St. Patrick’s missionary priest from Donard in west Wicklow. Fr. Walshe has spent his entire missionary career in Kenya where, in addition to helping build schools for the poor, he has sponsored hundreds of students in second level education.

Travellers on the road from Nairobi to Sudan often notice strange names on school buildings near Kitale in Western Kenya. These names are most un-African and for many of the travellers are very difficult to pronounce. Names like Glendalough, Glenmalure, Wicklow, Donard, Glen of Imaal, Leinster, Stranahely and Slaney don’t flow easily off many of the local tongues!

Now the girls have Blackrock College RFC on their jerseys – just another name the local Kenyans will need to get their tongues around!

– With thanks to St. Patrick’s Missionary Society and Blackrock College RFC