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Malawi mission for Rothes Juniors coaches

A group including two youth coaches are heading to Malawi on a mission later this month. Glenrothes pair Lee Robertson and Ian Young will be coaching the local children in football, and bringing equipment that will help people in the area. 

This trip came into reality via St. Columba’s Parish Church, which has a partner church in the Malawian village of Chulochosema. 

YFS spoke to Lee Robertson. He said: “We had the concept of providing equipment to less privileged areas of the world and they could take it on the next visit.

“That then manifested into a few more meetings and then the idea of us going along on the next trip.” 

Football will be a large part of this trip. Lee and Ian will be coaching alongside Play Football Malawi (described as an equivalent to the Scottish Youth Football Association). 

It has also grown into a campaign to help improve the lives of those in this Malawian community in day-to-day life. 

“The village we’re travelling to doesn’t have running water or electricity, so to see a football is one thing, but it’s turned into something a bit more.” 

“It came into taking other football items like Ronaldo and Messi tops, but then it turned into taking generic clothing, and now we’re bringing sanitary products, baby products – people have knitted stuff for newborn babies. We’ve got medical supplies, phones, we’re taking stuff to try and help this particular community.” 

The idea for this project started relatively small, but to the delight of Lee and everyone involved it wasn’t long before the local community was involved. 

The local primary school will be starting a pen-pal-like partnership in Malawi, among other ways people have gotten involved: “There are quite a few local businesses that have got involved and sponsored us as such, the coaching equipment that we’re going to be wearing will have certain companies’ logos, so it’s become more of a community-based thing and trying to include as many people as possible.” 

Some of the ways in which the club helps closer to home are being taken to Malawi, highlighting Glenrothes’ good work and high participation allowing a helping hand to be given at home and overseas. 

“We operate a boot bank so if kids have outgrown them, rather than throw them out we’ll collect them. That grew into something as well.

“We’ve had some donations set aside, particularly for Malawi, so we’re taking over football boots and other footwear as well as shinpads and strips.” 

For such a big drive to help in so many ways, the turnover from just being an idea to something with so many people getting involved hasn’t been long at all, with the group setting off on the 18th of April and staying there for twelve days. 

“From the initial conversation to where we are now, you’re looking at 9/10 months. Before we knew it we had dates for flights, accommodation and so on.” 

“It’s a first for all of us. Ian’s the same. We’ve all been abroad on holidays but this is a completely different ball game.” 

Looking beyond just the journey on the horizon for a moment, Lee knows that football is important in bringing people together: “I’m not sure how it came to be but I think it seems to be our main focus point – the interest surrounding football. It’s a multi-language sport, everyone says that it’s quite cliché but it genuinely is. You can give a child a football and they’ll know exactly what it is.” 

A JustGiving page has been set up for people to donate. Among other things, the money raised from this will allow for more luggage to be taken on flights, which means more equipment can be taken on the journey: https://www.justgiving.com/page/rothes-juniors-malawi-2024-170232351176 

“One of the main costs that we’re looking to incur is additional luggage. Every traveller is entitled to two 23kg cases.

“If we can take more we will, being realistic we’re not quite at the shipping container stage just yet, but I don’t see why that’s something we can’t aim towards.” 

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