Jonah Lowe still remembers running around the freezing footy fields as a bare-footed youngster.

The Magpie understands the importance of proper footwear having been bootless in his early career and had no hesitation putting his hand up to be the face of this year's Bring Yer Boots campaign.

"We didn't wear boots early on, it would get pretty cold on the icy grass."

Times have since changed and budding young sports players will soon be booting up for the winter season with many thanks to the Hawke's Bay Today driven cross-code initiative.


This year marks the third year of the campaign which encourages people to donate their old sports boots for children needing some sprigs this season.

Lowe hopes the initiative will help break down financial barriers for young Hawke's Bay players.

"It's a very good cause, a lot of talent goes unnoticed because some players may be less fortunate."

He remembers even in high school some players turning up to games without boots.

He said that growing up he knew a lot of talented players who were very good when they were young but financial disadvantage kept them going that step further.

"These young fullas getting new boots should get them pretty excited for the rugby season."

Lowe now dons a pair of red and white Adidas RS 7s, a far cry from frozen feet, which he gets "hooked up" with but still understands the struggle for some.

"I give away a few myself to friends and family so I only have one pair at the moment."

The New Zealand Under 20 team is named next week and Lowe is confident his name will feature in the squad for the Oceania Under 20 tournament which will be played in Australia from April 29.

"That's my main goal at the moment, then concentrate on the season with the Magpies so should be a pretty big year."

Sport Hawke's Bay's commercial manager Ryan Hambleton said the Bring Yer Boots campaign was a win-win.

"We think it's an awesome initiative, anything that will get kids more active and reduces the barriers is a good thing."

This will be Mr Hambleton's first year involved with the drive but he has kept a "close eye" on previous campaigns.

"The fact there have been over 800 pairs donated in previous years makes such a huge difference to a number of kids across the whole community."

He said it would be awesome to get a record number of donations and help out even more kids this year.

"They all go and get snapped up pretty quickly so there is obviously a demand for it."

Hawke's Bay Today editor Andrew Austin said he was happy to be involved in the initiative for a third year running.

"It's a most rewarding experience, we think it's very important to give back to the community."

Mr Austin said seeing the joy on the faces of the children when they got their new boots made it all worthwhile.

"I encourage all our readers to have a hunt around for old boots and hand them in."

The Bring Yer Boots campaign officially kicks off today and will run until Friday, April 29.
Don't hang up your boots! Donate them.

Drop-off points ¦105 Dickens St, Napier ¦ 301 Heretaunga St East, Hastings ¦76A Ruataniwha St, Waipukurau ¦16 Gordon St, Dannevirke ¦