The UA athletic department gave soccer and basketball shirts to local Afghan workers who were building a soccer field in Afghanistan, Major Kendrick Traylor, an Army ROTC instructor at the University said.
The donation was made in an effort to help the personnel create a recreational soccer field for Afghan students, Traylor said.
“Education is the common denominator for all individuals to create better opportunities for themselves, and is especially important here in Afghanistan,” Traylor said.
He also said the use of athletics and education allows students and military personnel to create a healthy learning environment. The Afghan workers had just completed the soccer field and a playground for local children, Traylor said.
Traylor said he sent an email to athletic marketing assistant Kimberlee Johnson presenting his idea.
“Major Kendrick sent me an email saying he had many Alabama fans in his guard unit and wondered if we had any extra items,” Johnson said.
The athletic department began looking for ways to support Traylor’s unit and decided to donate clothing to the effort, Johnson said. She said the items given were shirts from the student basketball group Crimson Chaos and the UA soccer program.
“Major Kendrick told us about the Alabama fans in his guard unit. We were excited to send them Alabama paraphernalia to show our support, share the Crimson Tide spirit and boost the morale of the loyal University of Alabama fans deployed,” Johnson said.
She said the donation was sent on May 20 and has been received in Afghanistan and given to the workers who were building the field.
Andrew Merchant, a junior majoring in history and a member of Army ROTC, said this donation shows the University’s support for military personnel serving in Afghanistan.
“The athletic department taking part in this whole donation shows that the University is an organization looking to help others,” Merchant said. “By listening to Major Traylor’s request for assistance and giving items to soldiers in Afghanistan, UA is helping others in their efforts to help local Afghan children in their quest for education.”
Merchant said programs like the one being offered to Afghan children are what bring together the local population and military personnel overseas.
Sam Heflin, a sophomore majoring in secondary education and English and a member of the Air Force ROTC, said this donation means a lot to the people who are receiving it, but it also means a lot to those who are serving as military personnel.
“The donation is a reminder that people care for them,” Heflin said. “Though shirts may not seem like a huge deal, to someone who has not been home for months, it is a small reminder of the things that they are sacrificing for.”
Heflin said this event shows that the gifts can unite two different cultures. Athletics are something that everyone, from every walk of life and background can participate in, Heflin said.