Creating the best community sports club in the world is the goal of Scottish charity Africa on the Ball.
And it is hoping to enlist our readers’ help to make sure it nets that ambition.
The charity launched its own supporters’ club last month in the hopes of signing up more Scots.
With just over 35 people already championing the club, the co-founders hope to grow that to at least 100.
Africa on the Ball formed Kalingalinga On The Ball FC in Zambia in 2011.
Its mission was to provide access to schools, employment opportunities and healthcare education by supporting and growing grassroots football, initially in Kalingalinga near Lusaka.
With the help of two paid coaches, Kelvin Chasauka and Gracious Chipilauka, it has grown from a community venture to a fourth-tier club.
It has also developed food and community litter picking programmes and an educational scholarship fund for players to finish their basic schooling.
In return, the boys and girls who play in the teams help with Africa on the Ball’s outreach programme, undertaking educational and football-focused sessions in deprived communities, as well as at the local orphanage and primary schools.
In Zambia, the average life expectancy is under 40 years old so football is used to deliver vital education and health programmes.
Andrew Jenkin, founding trustee of Africa on the Ball, 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 and positively change lives.
“Although we’re a relatively small charity, we hope the Supporters’ Club will help drastically grow our reach throughout the continent while offering donors a uinque, engaging experience with our work”.
It was while studying journalism at Stirling University that Essex-born Andrew hit on the idea for Africa on the Ball.
He was part of a sport for development programme, run by UK Sport, which saw students visit Zambia in 2009 and 2010.
It had a limited life, though, being delivered as part of the Olympics’ outreach programme.
Returning from Zambia for the second time, after the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Andrew decided he wanted to do more.
So he enlisted the help of Elena Sarra, who worked at the university.
Andrew explained: “I knew Elena had worked in Africa, volunteering in Cameroon for Vision Aid.
“So she was the first person I spoke to about Africa on the Ball.
“She knew how to go about setting up a charity, while I was able to identify people in Kalingalinga who had a real passion to help their community, using our model to give them the tools they needed.
“It’s based on the needs of the community and empowering people to help their own communities.”
Founded in 2010, Africa on the Ball was registered as a charity in 2013.
Its aim remains to make Kalingalinga On The Ball FC the best community sports team in the world.
However, the charity also has ambitious future plans.
At its base in Falkirk is a huge container, filled with kit and equipment for children across Zambia.
Africa on the Ball is hoping to raise the £8000 needed to transport the container to Zambia by summer next year.
The container would be used to build a community club house, which would also be home to a community learning and health education centre.
Andrew said: “Clubs across Scotland have been very generous in donating both footballs and kit.
“We’ve received kit from premier league teams as well as children’s teams across the country.
“These kits will be donated to children in communities across Zambia.
“But our biggest challenge just now is finding the £8000 we need to transport the container to Africa.
“We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who could help us with the transport costs.
“The money we raise helps fund the grassroots work we do in Kalingalinga with the boys’ and girls’ teams.
“So finding an additional £8000 is no mean feat.
“If any businesses could sponsor us, we’d very much like to hear from them.”
In the long-term, Andrew and Elena hope the Africa on the Ball model, used to such success in Kalingalinga, can be replicated across Africa.
He added: “There’s no reason why our model can’t be rolled out across the continent.
“We’re just a small charity at the moment which makes it hard, at times, to secure grant aid funding.
“But, with more support, Africa on the Ball could be used across the continent, if not around the world.”
In the meantime, though, the charity’s main mission is to sign up more supporters in Scotland.
There are four levels of club membership – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum priced at £4, £10, £15 and £20 a month respectively.
Supporters receive a range of benefits including personal video messages from the players, access to VIP functions and sponsors’ names on the kit.
To find out more or to donate funds, visit www.africaontheball.org.
Jimmy Bone is happy to support charity’s mission in Kalingalinga
Striker Jimmy Bone has recently become a patron for Africa on the Ball.
While he might be best known for one of the most revered goals in Partick Thistle’s history, he also has links with Zambia.
For Jimmy managed Zambian side Power Dynamos in 1991, helping them become the first sub-Saharan African team to win a continental competition, the African Cup Winners Cup.
Jimmy said: “I really didn’t have to think about saying yes to becoming a patron of Africa on the Ball because I believe in what the organisation does.
“Having been to Zambia, I’ve seen the impact organisations such as Africa on the Ball can have in helping young people.
“Football can be a great tool to engage young people and help them in all walks of life.
“I look back with great fondness on my time in Zambia and encourage people to get involved with Africa on the Ball’s work helping to develop education and healthcare in communities through football.”
The news came just two weeks after the charity launched its Supporters’ Club which gives the public the chance to sponsor Africa on the Ball and members of its community programmes from as little as £4 per month.