Sierra Leone: Update
- Thu 01 Sep 2011, 10:38AM
- Posted by David Clayton
Things have been progressing well over in Sierra Leone where the bus donated by City fans continues to enrich the lives of the people of Freetown.
Howard Burr and Alex Channon, who are respectively secretaries of the Reddish and Swinton City Supporters’ branches plus Phil Holme from Active Supporters' Club in Northern Ireland, took interest in the cause, first highlighted by exiled City fan Tony Griffiths who moved to Sierra Leone in 2003 to train the local police force.
Together they collected City shirts donated by generous fans and the group then asked the Club to get involved – which it did, donating a full kit for the newly-formed Manchester City Sierra Leone FC team in Freetown as well as a junior team.
In 2008 the Phuket branch of the MCFC Supporters Club donated a brand new home and away kit as the shirts from 2003 became a bit aged. On the 23 November in the same year the youth team took part in the Sierra Leone FA as well as providing a vital source of income in the process.
After a fantastic fundraising effort by hugely generous fans, the 32-seater bus arrived in Manchester on 12 July and evenYouth Cup final and won, after only four years of playing together.
One of the most prohibitive costs to the Sierra Leone team was getting to away matches and this eventually led to the team being suspended from the league because they were unable to fulfill away fixtures due to lack of funds.
Founder and chairman of MCFC Supporters' Club Sierra Leone,Armani Sheku Kamara, came across to visit the City squad during the 2010/11 season has been keeping everyone up-to-date on the Manchester City Sierra Leone Club.
Armani has played a pivotal role in the formation, organisation and upkeep of the football team and the integration of the bus into daily life in Freetown and things have moved on apace over the past 12 months.
Thanks to a huge donation of kit, equipment and clothing by Umbro and some terrific work by CITC ambassador Paul Lake, a massive container is now at sea, due to arrive in Sierra Leone on September 22.
Meanwhile, the bus provides a regular income to over 50 people - funding the education of young players and providing a living wage for them and their families in one of the world's poorest countries.
It also recently funded Armani's first foray into the transfer market, allowing the club to buy a new striker for the equivalent of £200 and the new recruit promptly scored on his debut.
As well as ferrying the team to away games, the bus earned contracts with a mining company and the UN and was even a tour bus for reggae band Morgan Heritage recently.
The efforts of Armani have not gone unnoticed, either and the adopted City fanatic and his village’s unique story have caught the attention of the Sierra Leonean President, no less, who has invited Armani to his residence to find out more about this fascinating and uplifting project.