COMMUNITY work carried out by Swindon Town has been praised by the minister for sport.
It was standing room only as the House of Commons committee rooms hosted a conference to discuss football clubs and International Community Development.
Swindon Town was one of five clubs highlighted for the work it does in the community, and in particular the work they have done in Zambia.
Football in the Community Trust manager Jon Holloway addressed an audience of politicians last week, including sports minister Hugh Robertson, sports administrators, club representatives and non-governmental officials at a Westminster conference, highlighting the strength of the Robins’ work in the African country over the past six years.
Similar programmes conducted by Charlton Athletic, Brighton and Notts County were also talked about, with the aim of the conference to gain the support of the audience for a project designed to encourage Premiership and Football League clubs to set up international links and partnerships.
The Minister for Sport praised the work of Swindon Town for the ‘great export’ of these development programmes.
“We are enormously grateful for the work you do in this area and the goodwill it creates,’” said Mr Robertson.
“Football is an extremely transferable sport and a common language.”
Jon said the relationship his charity had developed in Livingstone, Zambia, over the last eight years had been brilliant.
Having originally made the connection through a tournament in Sweden, Jon had been touched by the sacrifices the Zambian team had to make to get to Scandinavia, and wanted to help in whatever way he could.
Swindon Town Football in the Community have since made three visits to Livingstone, initially doing some coaching and making kit donations, eventually helping to rebuild a school and run the area’s first ever organised football tournament.
“Initially the priority was equipment,” he said.
“We take it for granted in this country that a coach turns up for a coaching session with a bag of balls. In Livingstone, there would be one ball for the whole school.
“Now we are past that, it is about continued commitment. There are now 35 active qualified football coaches in Livingstone, with future plans to develop girls’ football, disability football and host reciprocal visits for Zambians in Swindon.”
For more information on Swindon Town Football in the Community visit the website at www.stfitc.co.uk.