Look around the latest addition to the Salford Mall and at first glance you could be in any other sportswear store.
Shelves full of T-shirts, hoodies, and tracksuits sit alongside swimsuits, gym bags, and gear like jump ropes.
But Sports Traider is anything but ordinary.
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The store is already a hit with shoppers in Salford, who are greeted with posters promising every item on sale for £ 5 or less.
Sports Traider, a charity created 12 years ago, then uses this money to fund sports equipment and opportunities for disadvantaged or disabled young people.
It’s promising to make a big difference in the lives of the people of Salford through the power of sport.
Lance Haggith, Founder of Sports Traider, said: “What I discovered is that a lot of kids have aspirations, but what they lacked was either the opportunity or the equipment, which is very expensive.
“So I thought – I have four kids, they grow up really fast, I can get all their unwanted sports clothes back and give them to the kids who can’t afford it. It was a simple idea.”
In the beginning, the project helped children such as young caregivers, who could not afford to buy appropriate coats or shoes for sports.
Unwanted kits and equipment are said to be donated by families in schools, to be distributed to those in need.
In the years that followed, the association grew and expanded across the country, spurred on by recognition of the BBC’s Unsung Hero Sports Personality of the Year award – and supported by stars from the well-known sport.
Lance said: “The first thing was to give sports equipment – be it shoes, adapted wheelchairs, prosthetic legs – to young people so that they could access sport.
“Then it was an opportunity – so there are certain areas where people want to access the sport, but there is no club, so we created a club. From there we would do things like community projects.
“We also expanded into mental health which is very important due to Covid, and we are helping self-injuring young people to stop self-injuring by having them play sports – so it could be boxing, jumping , that sort of thing. “
One of the main goals of Sports Traider is to “level the playing field” by offering young people from different backgrounds, as well as children with disabilities, new opportunities in sport.
The young people who have been supported by Sports Traider have already achieved great things in sport.
Lance recalls a young man who played for a Premier League junior football team, while members of the association’s own cycling team have found success in professional outfits.
The charity’s philosophy is echoed in the pricing of items at Sports Traider stores, with everything at £ 5 or less.
“We want people not to think about [the price],” he said.
“A lot of times people come out with five or six items, so that’s fine. It looks like a sports store, it doesn’t look like a charity store.
“I don’t belittle charity shops, but they might have a really nice tracksuit in there, but you have to dig through the lampshades, the statues, the sweaters to find it. Here, it’s pretty obvious. where you are going.”
Sports Traider receives donations from big brands who provide older, unwanted inventory, to sell as new items – while also selling used items.
Bags and clothing from trendy names like Nike, which would normally sell for between £ 20 and £ 50, are available at a fraction of the price.
The charity also seeks to “level the playing field” by providing employment opportunities to people in the community who might otherwise have difficulty finding work.
Lance said: “That’s the great thing – we see ourselves as a social hub and we ask people to support us, to help us help your community.
“In addition to sporting opportunities, there is the element of recycling – by collecting unwanted sportswear equipment, whether new or used, and giving it new life.
“The other element is employment. Our stores offer many opportunities for young people, people with additional needs, ex-offenders, ex-military.
“Also mothers who have not worked for a few years and who lack self-confidence, some come to see us and regain confidence, then go elsewhere.”
Sports Traider is growing rapidly across the country, with another North West store in Runcorn already open and a city center outlet en route to Liverpool.
But Lance was bowled over by the successful start of the Salford store.
He is now eager to work on projects in the city to help young people play sport without barriers.
He said: “It was amazing. I was really excited about Salford, but I was greeted with warm and welcome arms.
“One of my kids played for Manchester Giants basketball locally so I thought I needed to get into that area and the response has been amazing.
“This is the best store so far.”
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