Some of the shirts left in tribute to Sir Bobby Robson will go to the African football team he met in 1999.
After a seventeen year battle against cancer, Sir Bobby died on July 31, aged 76. More than 500 shirts placed on the pitch at St James’s Park in memory of the late football manager have been given to CAFOD to send to Don Bosco Homes in Liberia, who support the Millennium Stars, the team Sir Bobby welcomed in his first week as Newcastle manager.
The Millennium Stars – a team including ex-child soldiers and former street children – toured the UK in 1999. They were guests of Newcastle United at their then training ground at the Riverside, Chester-le-Street. Sir Bobby spent time chatting to the lads and arranged a ‘keepy-up’ demonstration with the two teams’ best headers – Newcastle United’s Duncan Ferguson and Emmett Glassco of Millennium Stars.
Lady Elsie Robson and her son Mark visited the CAFOD offices at Ushaw College on Tuesday, December 15. CAFOD received six of around 50 boxes of shirts collected from well-wishing fans, which had been stored at Ushaw College before distribution to charities using football to work with children in Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe.
The shirts will be transported to Don Bosco Homes in Liberia in the New Year through a scheme organised by John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw in North Nottinghamshire. John Mann’s Football Shirts for Africa appeal aims to collect old football shirts and send them to young soccer players in Africa. After checking several charities, John was impressed with CAFOD’s partner organisation Don Bosco Homes and confident that they would make sure the shirts get where they are most needed.
If anyone has old football shirts they would like to donate to the appeal, please contact CAFOD Hexham & Newcastle on 0191 373 5001 in the New Year.
Since returning to Liberia, some of the Millennium Stars have managed to get contracts playing football in the Middle East and India, while most of the team continues to play in the Liberian premier League and in friendlies for Millennium Stars. For the last five years, they have coached younger players and set up Young Millennium Stars in 2006.
As well as CAFOD, Coaches Across Continents, KitAid and the RAF’s Taking Football to Africa and Beyond Appeal will also receive shirts. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – which fundraises for the fight against cancer – has raised more than £2 million so far.