Posted: 3/14/2017
Title: SIERRA LEONE TO TOKYO.

Blog:                                                                                                                         

         CRAIG BELLAMY was such an exciting player for Wales (75 caps) and many clubs: Norwich City, Coventry City, Celtic, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, West Ham United, Manchester City, Cardiff City. Still only 37 he has retired but spent 1.4 million pounds of his own money on THE CRAIG BELLAMY FOUNDATION in Sieraa Leone, West Africa.

          Unfortunately it recently closed down and had not filed financial reports with The Charity Commission in the UK, as required by law. The last report was in 2011. He had loads of enthusiasm and impacted the lives of many children, to give them coaching, a place to go to school and even sent about a dozen players to USA to play college soccer and receive scholarships.

           Isha Johansen,  President of the Sierra Leone FA, said that the academy had not been registered with the association and that the relationship was pretty frosty.  FIFA President Gianni Infantino ( who has yet to prove himself, to me at least) said that it was wrong to sell hope to children and then let them down. No plans were in place to help the remaining players after the shut down and a few were living in squalor. That could easily have been sorted with some help from Ms. Johansen.

           Bellamy had realised early on that after he reired he would have less of his own money to contribute and had been looking for commercial sponsorship. With the Ebola Crisis in the country and neighbouring countries, there was little chance of money being available for anything but medical and social emergencies, and he was unsuccessful.

          Craig has had a number of personal and family problems to deal with and he was devastated when his close friend Gary Speed suddenly passed away in November 2011.  His son Ellis age 16, the eldest of his three children, is a promising player with the Wales u16 squad.

         A brilliant full page article in th The Times this morning by top writer Henry Winter. It concerns the Football Association and the England Women's team and female football participation. The Three Lionesses came third at the 2015 FIFA Womens World Cup in Canada, and recently beat World Champions USA 1-0 at the SHE BELIEVES CUP in New Jersey.  Martin Glenn the FA Chief Executive has set the women the target of WINNING THE FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP in 2023. A tall order !!... a year after the mens World Cup in Qatar.

       He also has a goal of entering a Great Britain women's team in the 2020 TOKYO OLYMPICS.  Both men's and womens entered the 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS but politics and the non support of the other three home associations: SFA. FAW and IFA meant no teams at RIO 2016. In fact you have to go back to ROME 1960 when a GB mens team competed in the Olympics prior to 2016, and I actually went to one GB match at Stadio Flaminio v Italy 2-2.   Team GB who were all amateurs,  lost 4- 3 to Brazil and beat Republic of China 3-2 and went out in the first round. He had a meeting at Wembley a couple of weeks ago at the IFAB laws of the game meeting and feels that the other home nations are 'coming round' to the GB Olympic team proposal.

            Fewer countries play elite women's football but I believe that Welsh born  MARK SAMPSON is an awesome coach. Alex Scott,  star for Arsenal and England worked in the laundry room to take care of Arsene Wengers pampered millionaires. Fara Williams played for England when she was homeless, and another star, now retired, Kelly Smith played many years in USA and was homesick much of the time. She was England's record goalscorer with 46 goals in 117 appearances. 'PHENOMENAL' is how she described Glenn's new increased support.

            Scott says that the England team is mentally tough. IT'S NOT ABOUT ME....IT'S ABOUT US !! The players and Glenn want to double the number of female players from the present 12,000 clubs and TO START EARLY. getting the primary schools involved with money and coaching. Fighting childhood obesity and anorexia. Football is already the fastest growing participation sport for females. I remember the time it was BANNED FOR SEVENTY YEARS BY THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION.  from 1921 until The FA took over the running of the womens team in 1993. Its not just about getting girls wanting to play for England, but to have fun improve fitness, be social and stay healthy.

           Head of Women's Football at The FA (www.thefa.com) is Baroness Sue Campbell. A new appointment is that of former international hockey player DAVID FAULKNER as FA Womens Performance Director. He held a smilar role with the England and Great Britain hockey teams  for 7 years from 2005-2012. 

            Also check out www.shekicks.net, a terrific monthly magazine for women's football. 

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