Clutching a generous glass of red wine in the Boardroom at the County Ground on Saturday 17 November, the Zambian High Commissioner, Lt Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika, exclaimed: ‘Why would I want a cup of tea when my team is winning?!’
The High Commissioner was not the only person converted when he visited the town to see STFCs impressive win over Yeovil Town.
After some to-ings and fro-ings in the organisation of the visit, he immediately won over those who were there to welcome him to Swindon last Saturday, from the youngest child in the Saturday Football Club at St Joseph’s to the Chairman of Swindon Town Sir William Patey, who hosted him for lunch and the game, right.
Kneeling on the ground to be photographed with the children, he laughed and joked with them and their parents, he engaged with students on the National Citizens’ Service, and took in a wide range of information offered on all aspects of the developing link between Swindon and Livingstone in Zambia, led by the managers of the STFC Football in the Community programme, Jon Holloway and Clive Maguire.
Teachers Doug Staff and Chris Bentley from Crowdys Hill Special School, talked about the link with the David Livingstone High School that is developing very quickly. And the High Commissioner was fascinated by the magical solar powered lighting system offered by Cricklade based charity Lights for Learning which has already installed lights in five schools without electricity in Zambia.
Colonel Bizwayo was a charismatic and entertaining guest, and he gladly donned a Swindon Town scarf given to him at half-time by one of the directors, to add to the tie and cufflinks given to him earlier in the day, to become a vociferous and committed Robins supporter from that moment.
He also committed himself to do all he could to support the partnership, and all involved in the visit look forward to a future return visit.
Coaches from STFC in the community have already made two trips to Zambia to coach football, help set up a league in Livingstone, and develop girls football. They’re planning another visit in 2013 to build on the work already started and to specifically focus on training referees and setting up football for people with disabilities.
Swindon Town Football in the Community trustee Andrew Deuchar, left, is keen to hear of groups in Swindon interested in building on the work started through the football club. “Anyone who has travelled through Africa, Asia and the Caribbean will know the amazing popularity of British football. Even in the most isolated villages you will find children wearing the strips of famous English clubs.
“There is huge potential to make a real difference to communities at so many levels both in the developing world and here where clubs are already doing such excellent work through their community foundations.
“The footballers in Livingstone were surprised when Jon and Clive Maguire from Swindon returned there last November. They’re used to coaches arriving for a week or two to run training sessions, but were impressed that they came back to build a long term relationship.
“Livingstone is famous in Africa for its tourism, but also for its railway history, having been the headquarters of Rhodesian Railways, so there is a strong historical connection with Swindon and our idea is to strengthen the link by fostering relationships in sport, education, cultural activity and community development.”
If your school, group or sports club would like to know more, contact Andrew on 01793 854684 or email@example.com
Photos top and below: Richard Wintle ©Calyx Multimedia, 41, Churchward Avenue, Rodbourne Cheney, Swindon SN2 1NJ • 01793 520131 MOB: 07836 205196 www.calyxpix.com