BLACK Cats striker Asamoah Gyan is to kick off a charity to help poverty-stricken villagers in his African homeland.
The 25-year-old has followed in the footsteps of fellow Ghanaian players with the launch of an organisation to help deprived rural communities.
The Asamoah Gyan Foundation aims to improve access to water and health facilities as well as help educate young women.
Its long-term objective is to establish a football academy.
“One could see, especially in our villages, a 10-year-old girl walking about two miles to fetch water and walk all the way back home and I think this is not proper,” he said. “When I was a kid, any time the news was shown, I would just sit in front of the television and I could see people in these deprived communities and this made me sad.”
Before becoming a star, Sunderland AFC’s record £13million signing said he had endured a “great deal of hardship”.
Even today, many people living in the drought-prone northern plains have limited access to basic social services, safe water, accessible roads and electricity and telephone services.
About 60 per cent of small-scale farmers, many female, are poor.
In addition to their domestic chores, women are responsible for about 60 per cent of agricultural production and more than half of those who head households are among the poorest 20 per cent of the population.
The official launch of the foundation has been set for January next year, with major businesses, a coalition of international and African civil society organisations, United Nations agencies, governments and footballers already agreeing to sponsor the enterprise.
Republic of Ghana
Area: 92,098 sq miles
Major languages: English, African languages including Akan, Ewe
Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Islam
Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 59 years (women)
Monetary unit: Cedi
Main exports: Gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore, diamonds