During my recent trip to Sierra Leone I was spoilt for choice for photographs. As well as the tight shooting schedule at the Sierra Rutile mine, we also were fortunate enough to visit some of the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects. We visited a local school and were made to feel very welcome by the children. They love their football in Africa, it is one of the past times that children really take to, not only here, but all over the world, and none more so than in Sierra Leone. There are various charities that use this passion for the game as a way to entice the children to attend school – the attendance rate in Sierra Leone is under thirty percent – the hope is that by attending school, they will be rewarded with a football scholarship to football academies like the Craig Bellamy Foundation which is a very successful way of educating them in basic life skills and beyond, whilst still encouraging their love of football.
Being a lover of football myself I often look out for signs of it when I travel. Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many countries around the world and the beautiful game is prevalent in all of them – I like to think of it as our gift to the world. It does good in so many ways; a base from which to make friends, team spirit and fair play, honesty and a strive for success with a winning mentality – all great attributes required for life. I watched and photographed these kids playing, and have to say, there were plenty of very skilful boys who, with a little backing, could go far. It’s not surprising that Premier League football teams scour Africa for the next superstar, its a gold mine for footballing talent.