FOOTBALL chiefs are helping African youngsters reach their sporting goal.
As part of Sunderland AFC’s ground-breaking partnership with Tanzania, the club is lending its top-flight expertise to create a football development programme in the country.
The club has teamed up with US electricity company Symbion, which is providing the nation with much- needed power.
Officials from the club and Symbion were joined by Tanzania’s president Jakaya M Kikwete at a special ceremony to mark a milestone in the construction of a new community-based sports park in Dar es Salaam – the country’s largest city.
The Jakaya M Kikwete Youth Park – named after the president –will provide a full-size 3G artificial surface, along with a five-a-side pitch, two sand-based pitches and a basketball court.
An administration building as well as changing rooms will also be provided, along with floodlighting, to help the community make best use of the facilities.
The event saw President Kikwete plant a symbolic palm tree on the site, which is due to be complete in the early part of 2015.
He was joined by Sunderland AFC’s chief executive Margaret Byrne, the club’s commercial director Gary Hutchinson and Paul Hinks, the chief executive officer of Symbion Power.
Ms Byrne said: “We are honoured to be here in Tanzania with His Excellency President Kikwete and to see the progress being made with the project.
“The sports park is a central part of the unique partnership between our football club and Tanzania, and we are excited to see this special community facility taking shape.”
Mr Hinks, of Symbion Power, added: “After a long wait for the necessary permits, I am delighted to see that Phase 1 of the academy is finally under way. By joining forces with Sunderland, we are able to give the youth in Tanzania a pubic facility and professional coaching, the likes of which they have not had access to before.”
Sunderland AFC is providing technical and practical support to the development of the project, the first of its kind in the country, which will see thousands of youngsters benefit from a joined-up approach combining football, education and community engagement, harnessing the knowledge and expertise of the club.