FOOTBALLERS from Helensburgh and Rhu are joining forces to support a former Argyll and Bute football development officer as he aims to help get people in South Africa playing football.

Dylan Kerr, who was part of the Kilmarnock side who won the Scottish Cup in 1997 and who worked in Argyll and Bute from 2005 to 2009, is now the manager of South African side Baroka FC and has helped create the ‘Boots for Africa’ appeal.

The initiative started when the 51-year-old, whose playing career also included spells at clubs such as Reading, Leeds United and Hamilton Accies, tweeted recently about a local football match taking place where players would swap boots and shirts when coming on and off of the park as they don’t have enough to go round.

And ever since then the appeal has grown arms and legs as Dylan’s Twitter followers wanted to know how they could help.

Kilmarnock held a collection on Saturday with supporters donating more than 200 pairs of boots, and the Killie first team also contributed by giving away some of their own gear.

Football equipment of all sorts and sizes is being welcomed, from shinpads and boots to kits and goalkeeper gloves.

Rhu posted about the initiative on their Facebook page, while Helensburgh FC manager Sam Gemmell – who shared word of the appeal on his club’s own Twitter feed – was all too happy to help.

He told the Advertiser: “We decided to help out just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

“Dylan is an old friend of some of us older coaches from when he was here as our football development officer so that’s where I found out about his appeal.

“Kilmarnock have got behind it because Dylan is an ex-player, so I thought ‘why not.’”

The equipment will initially be sent to one of Dylan’s friends in Essex before being shipped out to South African rural villages.

Kit should be wrapped in a plastic bag and labelled with the contents, including sizes, and can be sent directly to Essex - the address is in Rhu Amateurs’ Facebook page - or dropped off at Hermitage Academy on Wednesday nights when Helensburgh train.

For the Burgh themselves, Gemmell is pleased to have a friendly scheduled for this weekend, thanks to Level 2 Covid rules which allow Argyll and Bute teams to play each other – though he does fear it may be the last action his side get for a while.

He continued: “At the moment our training carries on, albeit without the lads from Dumbarton.

“There’s not many games being played, although we’ve got a friendly arranged with Oban Saints this Saturday.

“I do think that we are going to go into a lockdown, so any more Argyll friendlies might be a rare thing.

“When it comes down to it, folks are getting sick, and unfortunately some deaths are happening.

“Despite what [Bill] Shankly is supposed to have said, football isn’t as important as folks’ health.”

For more information on the Boots for Africa appeal, visit @BootsEssex on Twitter.