Scots football fans urged to back Zambian community team

Andrew Jenkin, a founding trustee of Africa on the Ball, with some of the people the charity has helped.
Andrew Jenkin, a founding trustee of Africa on the Ball, with some of the people the charity has helped.
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It is an opportunity for Scottish football fans to put partisanship to one side and rally behind a club which is helping youngsters in a deprived urban sprawl in Zambia.

Africa on the Ball, a Scottish charity which uses football as a means for providing African communities with access to schools, employment and healthcare education, is calling on Scots to join a unique supporters’ club.

The charity, which aims to build the “best community sports club in the world”, has helped set up Kalingalinga on the Ball FC, a community-owned club which has enjoyed notable success on the pitch.

Since its formation in 2011, the team has been promoted several times, and currently plays in the fourth tier, employing four members of staff.

But it is off the field where the greatest strides have been made. With an elected council and a pledge that any transfer fees will be reinvested for the community’s benefit, an educational scholarship fund is place to help players to finish their basic schooling, as well as a food programme which ensures they are fed before games.

The charity has also formed an outreach programme which sees Kalingalinga’s players carry out football training and educational sessions in disadvantaged communities, including the local orphanage and primary schools.

But with even more ambitious to plans to build a clubhouse which would host a community education and health centre alongside a traditional football academy, Africa on the Ball is hoping football fans in Scotland can help.

The newly launched supporters’ club features a range of membership options, starting at £4 a month, which provides backers with a membership card and an annual report.

For £10 a month, donors will receive merchandise including a club shirt, as well as personal video messages from Kalingalinga’s players. The top tier allows fans to cast a vote on the kit they will wear next season.

Having overseen steady growth of the club in recent years, Africa on the Ball hopes this next step will allow it to make an even bigger difference to the life of people in Kalingalinga, a poverty-stricken community on the outskirts of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.

Andrew Jenkin, a founding trustee of the charity, said: “Our aspiration is to be the best community sports club in the world, using the unique ability of football to advance education, healthcare and enterprise throughout African communities and to positive change lives.

“Although we’re a relatively small charity, we hope the supporters’ club will help us drastically grow our reach and impact throughout the continent while offering donors a unique and engaging experience with our work.”

The average life expectancy for men in Zambia is 59, and the landlocked nation has one of the world’s fastest growing populations. Two-thirds of its population live in poverty.

For more information about Africa on the Ball, visit www.africaontheball.org.