Chichester and Emsworth pair headed to Africa

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A Chichester City Ladies football player and a man from Emsworth are visiting Sierra Leone to help improve children’s lives by getting them involved with the beautiful game.

Jemma Cottam-Verbruggen, from Lavant, is making the trip after volunteering for the Craig Bellamy Foundation (CBF), which has set up football leagues in the West African country.

She left last Friday to join Charlie Habershon from Emsworth, who is already out there.

“I finished university last year, but I have struggled to find a career. I want to give my time to doing charity work and this volunteer position sounded perfect,” said Jemma.

“There are four of us going out there. I am really looking forward to it. I have never been away that long and it will definitely be an experience.”

Jemma, 22, is interested in getting involved in helping to get women playing football in Sierra Leone. She added: “Their country believes women should be at home looking after the family so a lot of the girls don’t play football. However the foundation has just launched a girls’ league.”

Jemma will be in Sierra Leone for three months as a volunteer football league consultant. She currently plays football for Chichester Ladies.

Young entrepreneur Charlie first visited the area in 2006. Touched by the kindess of its people, he set up Near Far, an ethical fashion business using local tailors who did not get the chance of education because they were fighting in the civil war. He also runs a travel agency specialising in volunteering opportunities for students, graduates and workers on sabbaticals who want to help change a community.

The CBF Youth Development League is an initiative that uses football to empower a new generation of children to change their own and their communities’ lives. Established in 2009 with the support of UNICEF, the league provides a nationwide football structure to nearly 2,000 boys and girls.

n www.craigbellamyfoundation.org