A NORTH-EAST man who coaches an African football team is appealing for help from back home to get his players kitted out.

Jonathan Laverick, 34, left the region 12 years ago to teach in Botswana, after studying maths at Durham University.

The Sunderland fan played for several teams in Botswana before being approached to coach Amagents FC six months ago.

Mr Laverick, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, who got his coaching badges in the Bahamas, said the opportunity came along by chance.

He said: “My partner arranged for me to go for lunch with the Zebras, the national team, as a birthday present.

“While at the African FA, I got talking to the Amagents’ manager, who said they needed a coach, and it went from there.”

Mr Laverick’s African career is fairing better than his UK one. Before he left, he played for the North Brit pub, in Aycliffe Village, during a season in which the team lost all its games and conceded 280 goals.

Although Amagents FC recently lost their first game of the season, they won a pre-season friendly tournament.

Mr Laverick says the team, who play televised matches, are hampered by a lack of equipment.

He said: “We manage to supply first team players with boots and kit, but, to be honest, it is the youth team that really suffers.

“Some of the players are turning up in bare feet and it’s a dusty surface to play on. It’s certainly not ideal.

“Nobody dies of starvation in Botswana, but it is a very poor country and the players just can’t afford to buy their own boots.”

As well as boots for the youth team Mr Laverick is looking for footballs, bibs and coaching equipment.

In addition, he is hoping he can attract a strip sponsor or a number of sponsors to help individual players.

Anyone who can help the club is asked to contact Mr Laverick on 0026-774-244826 or email amagentsfc@ ymail.com, or visit Amagents FC on Facebook.