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Pitching in

19 April 2006

A football-loving Bristol graduate has set up a project that aims to provide decent football equipment to remote communities in Kenya.

A football-loving Bristol graduate has set up a project that aims to provide decent football equipment to remote communities in Kenya.

Twenty three-year-old Ben Ramsbottom (MEng 2005) was inspired to do something when he visited Jora village in Kenya during a gap year in 2001. He not only saw the poverty (the average wage is 60 pence per day), but also the importance of football in these communities. ‘Football is the most widely played sport in Kenya. Every school and most villages boast a team and tournaments are a spectacle not to be missed. The trouble is that many villages or schools do not have adequate funds to purchase footballs and the pitches themselves are often very basic’, said Ben.

Ben returned to Jora village last summer to erect metal goal posts and made the decision to extent the project so that villages across the country could have decent football equipment. Back home in Oxford, he worked flat out at Beeline cycles to make money to fund the scheme. He is now spending six months in Kenya, constructing football equipment – including long-lasting galvanised steel goal-posts, corner flags and nets – from local materials and is putting them up throughout the country. He is also handing out super-durable footballs that he designed by himself to withstand the country’s thorny acacia tree.

But the project is not just about football. Ben also wants to raise awareness about Aids prevention. ‘The footballs carry Aids prevention messages,' said Ben. ‘We’re not thrusting it down people’s throats, but taking a more subtle approach that should be more effective.’