The Spireites have started to make a name for themselves in The Gambia after local paramedic Andrew Staton went on an expedition to the West African country.
Andrew helped Gambian health workers and met Dave Adams, who was working for a charity called Just Act Gambia in Janjanbureh. One of the projects they are involved in is a football academy for both boys and girls.
Andrew was later called to the Proact and spoke to maintenance worker Glyn Walker, who made him aware of some spare Spireites shirts from seasons gone by along with spare footballs from the academy and even ones rescued from the roof of the stadium. The kit and equipment was then donated to Dave’s project.
Taking up the story, Andrew said: “I was asked to support a charity called Riders for Health to go on an expedition across Gambia and that’s where I met Dave who was leading the expedition. It’s all about providing transport and training for health workers in the African countries.
"We all parted company after the expedition, but I kept in contact with Dave and one of the health workers. I asked Dave what I could do for him and he spoke about footballs and football kits. Then I treated Glyn and he told me about a shed full of kit that was available. They then went on to be used by one of the teams over there in a tournament which they won."
Dave said: “The young people were very keen to have a football academy because their opportunities for football are very limited due to things like not having a place to play but also the lack of shirts, boots and footballs available to them. They just didn’t have any of that stuff. None of the coaches have had any coaching as players, let alone as coaches, so we’re still very young in that respect.
“We have about 60 boys registered and 50 girls – which is a great achievement in Gambia due to cultural reasons because they have more domestic duties like being expected to cook, look after kids and get married, especially girls who haven’t had an education. We’ve had really good engagement from the girls.
“There’s only around 5,000 in Janjanbureh - it’s a relatively small town - and because of that we’ve had a big impact. We’re very well known around the community. Our big aim for the academy is to become a professional club. To get a professional work visa, players need to have played for a club for three years. We need better facilities and we also want to bring over coaches to help develop our coaches."
Just Act have also been aided by donations from KitAid - who donated the old red Cardiff City strip - and from a pub in Malvern. Chesterfield are the only football club to have a link with the charity and the donation made by the club has already had a huge impact.
“We received 50 Chesterfield shirts so having that number means we can put an identity on the whole squad and having the socks and the shorts is something we haven’t always had,” added Dave.
“A good football can cost the same as an average month’s wages to a person in Gambia so the balls we get are superb because cheap balls that we need to keep replacing are really not feasible because they don’t last on the pitch."
To find out more about Just Act Gambia, please click here.