Darwen teenager set for coaching in The Gambia

Darwen teenager set for coaching in The Gambia

A 17-year-ancient football fanatic has secured funding for a ‘once in a lifetime’ coaching trip to The Gambia.Lewis Atkinson, of Moor Lane, Darwen, was inspired to take on the voluntary work after his club, Darwen Spartans JFC, donated 100kg of kit to needy children in the country last month.After a ‘speed dating’-style application for funding at the Neighborhood Pioneers Scheme at Darwen Academy, Lewis was successful in gaining a £1,000 from the National Lottery.He hopes to travel out to the country early next year for a week, along with fellow Spartan youth team member Kyle Jackson, 18. They will teach a range of age groups, taking essential education supplies with them.

Lewis, an Accrington and Rossendale College sports academy student, said: “I can’t wait to get out there. “When you give a shirt to someone in Gambia they’ll wear it more than someone in this country would in a lifetime – they really appreciate it.”I hope I can help them develop their skills,I’ve never been to Gambia before, and it will be a whole new experience,” he said. “But hopefully it will go really well and I can go back a few times,” he added.

Both Lewis and Kyle have completed their national diplomas in sport, refereeing courses and level one FA coaching badges, and have carried out volunteering work in the Blackburn with Darwen area. Lewis’s dad, mark Atkinson, who founded Darwen Spartans JFC, said: “It’s a life-changing experience.“Lewis eats, sleeps and drinks football, and so does Kyle.“They’re very focused and as a club, we’re very proud of them doing this. “Darwen Spartans have had help from people, and I don’t see why we can’t help other people who really need it.”Lewis and Kyle will travel with Ian Wiggins who volunteers for English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in their exchange for football materials and carries out regular charity work in the country (The Gambia). when asked to buttress more on the story, Ian Wiggins said, “yeah, I will be bringing them in January, they donated all the kits I brought over in March (2011) and I also have a lot of Blackburn Rovers kits and trophies which I will be bringing. I will also be filming a charity video for a volunteer organization in November and putting on a schoolboy football tournament.when asked when exactly they will be coming to The Gambia, he decided to place it under the carpet and he said, “I’m not sure yet, just sometime in January, I have yet to organize this with Football Gambia. we are going to ship the kit out through his charity (Ian Stapleton’s Football Gambia) and he will be working with the coaches.asked on why he’s doing all of this for The Gambia, Ian said, “it’s just that I get huge satisfaction making the football playing boys of the Gambia pleased by giving out the kit, can’t think of anything else”, he concluded.

Last Updated (Thursday, 30 June 2011 12:02)


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