Friday the 13th is a day that gets a bad press amongst the superstitious people in the world, in truth I’m not a fan of it myself. Yet Friday the 13th of July 2018 is a day that will live long in my memory and for all of the right reasons. This was the day I got to spend with the second Sunderland AFC, Sunderland AFC Keroche to be precise – and what a day it was.
For anyone who may not know, Sunderland AFC Keroche are a community football team from the town of Naivasha in central Kenya, about 2 hours, or 60 miles north-west of the capital Nairobi.

As a Sunderland lad and Sunderland fan I first became aware of SAFC Keroche 4 or 5 years ago and at the time thought it was great that a team in Kenya were using our name and colours.
It wasn’t for a few years though that I started taking more of a keen interest in the team, this was because me and my girlfriend, Elisha, had booked a safari to Kenya and one of the destinations that we were due to stay at was Lake Naivasha – as you can guess, a large lake just beside the town of Naivasha.

When I found out that we were going to be staying so close to the team I decided that I would like to help, I contacted the Facebook page of SAFC Keroche and made them aware that I was visiting the area and wanted to help in any way I could, such as donating spare boots, balls, bibs or anything that may help. Straight away I was put in touch with UK President of SAFC Keroche, Gary Lamb, who I informed of my impending visit and willingness to help the club. Gary was great and straight away wanted to tell me all about the club and how much of an amazing set of lads they had, I could tell he was really passionate about the club. Gary informed me that he had a loft full of equipment such as balls, boots and socks amongst others which needed taking over for the lads if I was willing to help with that, of course this was something that I was more than happy to do.

In the mean time I had spoken to Chris Waters at SAFC in England who had kindly sorted me out with some balls from the club to take over with me too and with the help of my friends and family I had also managed to collect lots of boots, training bibs and goalkeeper gloves too. In the end, myself and Gary sat down and packed 2 whole suitcases full of much needed equipment for myself and Elisha to take over to Kenya. Gary told me that to show their appreciation the lads wanted to see me and show me around the town when I was there and the club captain, Jose, who I had already became acquainted with on Facebook, had even went as far as arranging a friendly game so Elisha and I could get to see the lads playing.
I arrived in Kenya and started my safari for a few days before the Friday arrived. Friday came, the day I was due to meet with the lads to hand over the equipment, club captain Jose picked us up from our lodge along with club photographer Kaka and began to show us around the town. He gave us the guided tour showing us a normal day in the life of Naivasha, during the day between all the sights he would fill me in more about the history of the club and the work that they do within the community.

He went on to tell me how the name Keroche comes from the local brewery which is called the Keroche breweries and that is where the club gets the name from. Jose told me that as the brewery was so close by that the low alcohol prices was causing the youth to start abusing alcohol which sometimes led to other substance abuse and even gun crime, and the idea behind the club was to keep the youth of the local area away from the streets. They wanted to better their community and give the children of the area a better future and something positive to focus on.

Jose has been at the club since day one and is still to this day the captain of the club, you could see he was passionate about the club and all the players and academy children in it. He took us to the local school where they play all of their home games, the school even sports a “Stadium of Light” sign at the entrance. (see picture)

When we arrived all of the children were so happy to see us, it was really special to be able to see and spend some time with some of the children from the local community who can and will be affected positively by the SAFC Keroche project. They were all so friendly and welcoming, such happy children to be around, even greeting us in English, asking “how are you?” and shaking our hands. It was so amusing to watch the children touching Elisha’s blonde hair. Some of the children played football with a makeshift ball made out of what looked like polystyrene and string.

After we had left the school Jose showed us a couple of local beauty spots and we continued into the town centre to sample some of the local cuisine. We ate “Nyama Choma” (roasted meat, Goat to be precise) and “Ugali” (Maize Corn, which I guess you can compare to the Kenyan equivalent to Palenta) which were both things which we had never had before.

Once we had eaten it was then time to start making our way to the pitch which was about 15 minutes’ drive away from the centre of town. As we were driving though the town we started to see the red and white shirts making their way to the local post office which is the meeting point for the team for all away games.

A little later, Elisha, Jose, Kaka and I arrived at Nini Farm which is the home pitch of SAFC Keroche’s rivals for the friendly, FC105. The rest of the lads arrived shortly after us, there was a buzz around the area and all of the players were as happy to see us as we were to see them. Just before kick-off I had the honour of presenting James Okeke, or “Lethal Weapon” as they like to call him, his top goal scorer trophy from 2014.


It was a moment he had been waiting four years for and he was so happy to receive the trophy, I was very happy to be a part of that. He has been the top goal scorer for the last 4 seasons in a row and I am reliably informed by captain Jose that he is SAFC Keroche’s leading goal scorer of all time, so it really was amazing to be able to share that moment with him and the rest of the team. Okeke then told me that he would have something for me later.
The teams warmed up and the game was underway and sure enough, within 5 or 10 minutes Okeke scored a great looping header over the goalkeeper and under the bar after a cross from the right wing. He ran all the way over to me from the opposite end of the pitch, like Adebayor vs Arsenal but only this time in a happy way, he shuck my hand gave me a hug and said “see, I told you, that was for you.” The game restarted and FC105 were in front by half time. After a few half time changes and second half goals from Okeke and captain Jose, FC105 somehow managed to withstand the SAFC Keroche barrage and held out for a 4-3 with their goalkeeper even saving a last minute penalty in the process. I have since been informed that I had been invited to take the late penalty which was such a fantastic gesture but the opposition players would not allow it. Jose told me that Okeke was disappointed as he wanted to score a hat-trick for us, but only managed to score 2.
After the home team left the pitch, Jose gathered all of the lads together as he wanted to organise for us to officially hand over the cases to the team. All of the lads gathered around in a semi-circle as we presented them with the cases of equipment.


They were all full of gratitude and couldn’t thank us enough, shaking our hands and asking for photographs before they left.

(we became part of the SAFC KEROCHE family)

It was great to see a group of people so grateful and for something so small to us to mean so much to them. After the photos and the gratitude the lads started to disperse and we shorty made our way back to our lodge with Jose and Kaka, who dropped us off so we could continue our Kenyan adventure the next day.
I haven’t seen any of the lads in person since, though I sincerely hope to be back one day (maybe for a little longer this time) but a lot of the lads are friends with me on Facebook which I am happy about because it means I get to keep up with the lads. I can now say I have a small group of friends from a small town in Africa – which most average Mackems probably can’t even pronounce. As well as this, there is also a second Sunderland AFC in my life and from now on there always will be.
I have spoken to Gary about my blog and asked him if he wanted to contribute anything towards it and all he wanted to do is to raise awareness and encourage anyone to view the YouTube documentary and follow the Facebook page. The team and academy are always looking for donations of SAFC shirts, boots and other equipment and even have club and player sponsorships available. Anyone who is able to help in the smallest way possible, we are very grateful.

Gary and John (who both feature in the documentary) are travel to Naivasha every 2yrs to take over a lot more equipment and spend some more time with the lads. Items they need more than anything else are GOOD SECOND HAND FOOTBALL BOOTS sizes adult sizes 6 -10, so if you have any lying in your cupboards, why not donate them to this wonderful cause.
After seeing this project first hand, Elisha and I were amazed by how much it makes a difference to the local community, and to see all the players and academy children wearing our beloved Sunderland shirts, will live in our memories forever.
I hope our story will encourage more Sunderland fans to get involved, by helping in anyway you can.
If anybody would like to help, donate or simply raise awareness then contact SAFC Keroche on Facebook or speak directly to their UK President, Gary Lamb for ways to help. Tel; 07880732078

If any of our UK fans would like to donate in anyway, regardless of the amount, you can make a donation to the teams UK account in any of the following:

1, By bank transfer: For details contact Gary Lamb, on UK mobile +44 (0) 7880732078

2, By Cheque: Made payable to SAFC KEROCHE, To: Gary Lamb, 2, Shakespeare Street, SEAHAM, Co. Durham, SR7 7JB

3, Via PayPal: to

Or, you could do, as Elisha and I do every year, by sponsoring a player each for only £50 per player each season. Just contact Gary for details.


When you first get to hear about a story like SUNDERLAND AFC KEROCHE you become curious, but to see it all first hand during our Safari holiday, was truely amazing.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Jack Reay and Elisha Maley, Sunderland, UK.

Watch our fantastic documentary

In 2013 David Kenny, Kevin Clift and Matt Ward for their dissertation at Sunderland University embarked on a journey to Karai, Kenya. The reason? To share the story, of how two different communities were brought together because of the love for football.

Keroche was made possible by the generosity of people all around the globe who backed them on Kickstarter.

Since this film was made in 2013, the club have gone on to win a total of 32 cup competitions, between the 1st team and academy. The 1st team have also gained 4 promotions and are currently playing in the Kenyan National Division 1.

All of these achievements have only been possible through the kind generosity of Sunderland fans worldwide, who have sponsored and given donations, and also donated numerous items of kit.

We thank each and everyone of you for your wonderful support.


Who Are Sunderland AFC Keroche?

An Interview from a number of years ago with Club President Gary Lamb that chronicles
the beginning of the club!

You can also enjoy our documentary, at the following link;



Sunderland AFC Keroche, began in the village of Karai, on the outskirts of the town of Naivasha, Kenya in 2012. Karai village is a very poor area, where only 1 in 28 of the adults have a full-time job,
It all began as a way of trying to give the youth of the area a focus in life, to keep them away from life’s darker temptations such as drugs, crime and alcohol etc.
It started quite simply as a group of football loving young men forming a football team, but they had no kit, no boots, and no pitch, but they give themselves the name of Sunderland AFC Keroche for 2 reasons;- (1) The then manager elect was a Sunderland fan, (2) The village sits in the shadow of the huge KEROCHE BREWERY (Kenya’s second largest brewery)
The boys played friendly games against other local villages, but soon realised that they were quite a good team, as they were winning all the games (Even though they were playing in bare feet, on pitches in other villages) So they approached the local village school and asked if they could use their spare land to play games, and erected 2 goals made from tree branches.
One day the then manager “Paul Kimani” approached a Sunderland fan in England called Gary Lamb (Via facebook) to ask if their was a possibility of trying to donate kits and boots etc. After checking out the team and satisfied everything was genuine, Gary put out an appeal for Sunderland shirts, plus boots, shorts and socks etc. and was overwhelmed by the response, (Where to date 2 x 40ft containers of kit have been shipped over) but not only items for the football team, these containers also included donated items such as clothing, bedding, children’s toys, bikes, school books, pens, pencils, toothbrushes & toothpaste, and much more, So SUNDERLAND AFC KEROCHE, the school and their village of Karai, became a whole new place.
Village elder Joseph Muchina, has told us that since the project started, that crime in the village area has dropped by over 70% , because all the young children and youths are now attending football training 4 evenings a week.

Since the SUNDERLAND AFC KEROCHE project started in 2012, we have achieved the following through donations and sponsorship from Sunderland fans, mainly in the UK
1, The school pitch has been levelled, and seeded to become one of the best pitches in the area.

2, New full size metals goalposts have been fitted.

3, Home and away dugouts have been erected.

4, The first team have had 2 promotions, won 11 cup competitions, and been runners-up in many other cups. (They are currently pushing for a 3rd promotion, to the Kenyan National Division 2)

5, We now have a thriving academy, attended by over 100 kids.

6, We have installed a full fresh water supply to the school, giving the 900+ pupils fresh clean water for the first time ever. (We class this as one of our biggest achievements to date)


7, So far 27 senior academy kids have progressed into the 1st team squad.

8, Five first team players have progressed to Kenyan premier league teams, and now make a living through football.

9, One small corner of Kenya has become red & White crazy.

10, We are now one of the most respected teams in Kenya.


Above are just a small proportion of our achiements, to find out more, see below.








MAIN sponsors of our AWAY KIT


Tombola Ltd are a British online bingo company. Their headquarters are in Sunderland in the North East of England, with additional offices in Gibraltar, Milan and Madrid. Founded in 2000, its main site, has become the largest bingo website in the UK, with more players than any other company, as well as being number one in Spain and Italy.

We owe Tombola gods blessings, as they were our fisrt ever main sponsors when our club were formed in 2002, and they have continued to sponsor our club every year since. Having such a flagship company onboard, enabled us to attract other main sponsors including Hays travel and Eco Logic Partners.

You can visit the tombola website at the following location: