In Zambia, 46% of the population is under 15 years old. There are sometimes few adult role models, and opportunities can be scarce — particularly for children who are out of school.
Cecily’s Fund is working to change this. Through our Connecting Communities programme, funded by Comic Relief, we’re giving young people in Kitwe the chance to gain skills, opportunities, and a better future. One of the ways we’re doing it is with the beautiful game itself — Zambia’s beloved national sport, football.
Kitwe, in Copperbelt Province, is a hotbed of football talent. Two of its elite clubs, Power Dynamos and Nkana, regularly feature in the top flight of Zambian football. Sunshine F.C. is a very different kind of team, however.
Founded in 2016, the club recruits all of its players from children in the area who are out of school. It is a project of Kwacha Sunshine Club, which founded the team: Sunshine Clubs themselves are special associations funded through Connecting Communities to boost opportunities for young people.
Sunshine Leader Michael explains that in addition to competing in local amateur leagues, Sunshine F.C. also “ use football as a tool to communicate many issues affecting youths in our community such as early pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, crime in the community, sexual and reproductive health.” They’ve reached well over 200 young people with this vital information.
With help from our partner organisation CHEP (the Copperbelt Health Education Project), Sunshine F.C. were able to get some special training from both Power Dynamos and Nkana. With their newfound skills, the team became runners-up in a major local competition.
So successful was this new team that no less than 13 of its players were picked up by more established sides. Upon signing contracts, the young and talented players were able to bring much-needed income into their households. For its part, Sunshine F.C. is working hard to recruit new players, become formally established and to sustain itself over the long term.
Securing success on the pitch; bringing income to its players; and spreading the word about vital health issues. With these three goals, Sunshine F.C. has helped Connecting Communities rack up a big win over poverty in Copperbelt Province.
On June 9 at Burford School, four teams clashed to be the first winners of the Zam Challenge shield - in the end, the school's staff team emerged triumphant and over £740 has been raised for Cecily's Fund.
Burford School generously hosted our five-a-side football event, and entered three teams. The school's staff, Year 12, and alumni teams faced a Cecily's Fund side recruited and captained by Simon Isherwood. Each of the six matches were fast-paced and very competitive, with every team determined to win the day!
Match 1: Year 12 3 - 2 Alumni
Match 2: Staff 5 - 3 Cecily's Fund
Match 3: Staff 2 - 3 Alumni
Match 4: Cecily's Fund 4 - 3 Year 12
Match 5: Staff 2 - 0 Year 12
Match 6: Cecily's Fund 3 - 4 Alumni
In the end, Burford staff won out over their alumni team on goal difference and secured the first ever Zam Challenge championship. Cecily's Fund had to settle for joint third place, but did score more goals than any other team. After the football, players and Burford sixth form enjoyed a barbecue, music and raffle which raised extra funds.
We're hugely grateful to everyone who played, spectated, donated and helped with this special competition which we hope will become an annual event. Our thanks also to Wenn Townsend who sponsored the Zam Challenge, and to Bakers Butchers in Witney who provided the meat for our barbecue.
Cecily's Fund is excited to announce The Zam Challenge - a special 5-a-side football tournament organised in partnership with Burford School. Donate whatever you can to support our work in Zambia and our 20th anniversary!
Burford School Sixth Form have generously adopted Cecily's Fund as their charity for 2017 - and as part of their fundraising efforts, they're co-organising and hosting The Zam Challenge on Friday June 9. It's sure to be a brilliant evening of competition, which with your help will also raise a great total to enable us to change even more young lives in Zambia.
Four teams will compete - one Cecily's Fund team consisting of family and friends of our staff, and three teams from Burford School. They're playing not only for pride but also for a unique trophy and additional awards, including Man of the Match, top goalscorer and best goalkeeping.
The Cecily's Fund team needs your support! Visit our JustGiving page today to make a donation, then post a message for our team. They would love to win the trophy, and your words of encouragement could make all the difference!
We'll be sharing all the action from the six matches online, so be sure to keep an eye on the #zamchallenge hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We'll also be publishing a post-tournament report here on the Cecily's Fund website.
It takes just a few clicks to make your Zam Challenge donation, but your support will make a real difference in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. Just £5 is enough to help support our feeding programme at BISO Community School, while £15 helps us support a community savings group. For every £50 we raise, we can support a child at school for a year. So please - donate today, help us make a difference, and cheer on the Cecily's Fund team!