Cleats for Kenya: Homewood business owner helps girls lacrosse team

Local News

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) – When it comes to shoes, Michael Duvdevani understands the importance of getting the right fit. So when he saw a shoe problem on the lacrosse field this summer, he used his expertise to make a difference.

Duvdevani owns Complete Feet, which has stores in Homewood and Hoover. He makes custom orthotics for patients to help alleviate pain.

This summer, Duvdevani’s daughter, Ella, was selected to play on the Israeli Under-19 National Lacrosse Team. The team competed in the World Championship in Canada, where they played the Keynan national team in their fifth game of the tournament. It was an easy, 13-4 win for the Israelis. But during the game they noticed something unusual about the Kenyan team.

“They were slipping and sliding all over the field in their shoes,” Duvdevani said.

That’s because the Kenyan team was wearing tennis shoes instead of cleats, like most teams wear. They couldn’t keep their balance on the turf, which was still wet following rain that morning.

“I’ve never seen anyone play in tennis shoes and not play in cleats, especially in this level,” Duvdevani said.

So after the game, Duvdevani asked Kenyan coaches about it.

“They explained that these girls, they come from a very impoverished background, and they can’t afford the cleats,” he said.

To Duvdevani, that was unacceptable. So he found a shoe store, gathered the players’ shoe sizes, and he and the other Israeli parents paid for new cleats for the Kenyan team. They surprised them with the cleats later in the week.

“They all started hugging and crying,” Duvdevani said.

And it made a difference for the Kenyan team, which had won only one game in the tournament prior to getting the cleats. They lost just one game afterward. It was a rematch against their new friends from Israel on the tournament’s final day. This time, they fell by just one point.

Neither team finished in the top-10 at the World Championship, but they formed a lasting bond, and the new cleats became the highlight of the tournament for both squads.

It’s all thanks to a man who understands that the right kind of shoes can make life much better.

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