YOUNG footballers a continent away will be able to kick-off their playing careers thanks to the generosity of a Fenland youth side.
Estover Park Youth FC have donated a huge array of football kits, boots and equipment including seven-a-side goal posts to a charity based in the Congo which aims to help youngsters come to terms with trauma and neglect.
Club manager and secretary Rob Mitchell explained the idea to support the Menelik Partnership came from work colleague Pauline Gardner who’d heard about the charity and thought it was a good cause.
Estover Park Youth FC agreed and joined the partnership and on Sunday the girls saw their spare playing equipment which including five seven a-side team strips, footballs, training cones, bibs, boots and a set of seven-a-side goals loaded into a van for the first leg of its journey to the Congo.
The equipment will be shipped out to Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo with all the equipment destined for an orphanage.
Rob Mitchell said: “This partnership is an excellent opportunity to show the young people in our football club that there is more than just playing the sport; the club’s attitude to the charity work has been outstanding and many players have given up hours of their time to ensure the launch of this partnership is a success”.
Captain of the U14 girls’ team Fran Plitsch is extremely excited being part of this project and said: “It’s great to think that in a few months children in the Congo will be playing in our club kits and have the opportunity to enjoy the game as much as we do; we hope we can see photos from the orphanage of the matches they play.”
The partnership is set to continue over many years with planned web cam sessions, pictures and letters from both sides.
The U14s team is also planning other fundraising events including bag packs and community club events to raise cash to provide life-saving mosquito nets for every child in the orphanage.
Theodore Menelik, charity organiser, who came along to meet the March-based players and see the equipment for himself, said: “Many children in the Congo experience negative changes in their lives and suffer from emotional and trauma neglect. They then have to adjust to a new situation, with little or no support, and may suffer exploitation and abuse.
“Despite its limited resources, Menelik Partnership is trying to address these issues in the communities in which it operates by building strong and meaningful partnerships such as the one with Estover Park Youth Football Club.
“The partnership is having a tremendous impact on the lives of many young girls in the Congo and here in the UK by changing mindsets and making significant contributions to community life in both countries.”
To find out more visit: www.menelikpartnership.org/index.htm