Academy U13 player Fabian Thompson recently went on a family holiday to The Gambia, West Africa and found himself joining an impromptu game of football with local boys’ team Brutfut. The team had hardly any kit to speak of, no socks, boots, shorts or jerseys and they played on a simple sand pitch without even proper goalposts, yet Fabian was surprised to find that many of the team were very skilful players.
“We immediately bought them a new football and they really appreciated it.” said Fabian. “They had some terrific players and we started to think about how we might be able to help them even more.”
Fabian’s Dad Quentin takes up the story: “The Gambia is a lovely country but is one of the poorest in the World.
“We learned that as well as having virtually no kit the Brufut team plays where there is no running water, no sewerage connection, no paved roads and only a limited electricity supply but everyone there engaged us with a friendly smile and they love to play football.
“The team has a couple of voluntary coaches and we suggested to them that it might be possible to collect a few old Academy training strips and ship them out to for Brutfut to use. The coaches’ response to this idea was overwhelming and it made us determined to not let them down.”
When the Thompsons returned from their holiday the idea was put to the Academy and the players’ parents and the extremely positive response enabled a significant number of items to be collected.
Warren Campbell is the Head of Coaching at the Academy: “Every couple of years we try to collect the old strips that the Academy lads have outgrown and we donate them to local schools or other worthy causes.
“We have been delighted to help out the Gambian team by providing a complete Academy away strip and the parents have helped by collecting boots and trainers which their lads have outgrown or no longer use.
“We are sure that these will all be well received by the Brutfut players.”
Quentin Thompson was so determined to make sure that the donated equipment reached its intended destination that he flew out to The Gambia to deliver it personally.
“I think that Brutful will be known as one of the best equipped teams in the area from now on.” he said. “Not only that but we have a host of new Port Vale supporters in The Gambia.”