Wednesday, May 7, 2008
West Ham and Wales striker Craig Bellamy has had an interesting career.
From spats with teammates to public wrangling with coaches and trainers, Bellamy has never been far from the spotlight.
It's with interest I saw the story of Bellamy planning to build a football academy in Sierra Leone to try to help develop the country's young talent.
There's a dose of skepticism, of course. What are his intentions?
But at the core of it, it's a very touching, heartwarming move.
Bellamy visited the war-torn country last year and was so impressed by the local playing talent that he vowed to help them improve facilities.
He has now set up the Craig Bellamy Foundation, which will start to build an academy in the capital Freetown.
"Because of the war, children haven't had any opportunity," he said.
"They haven't been thrown a football, they've been thrown a gun. Now we can give them a chance that their fathers or grandfathers never had. That's the buzz for me. I'm not looking to find and sell players. I'm not an agent. I want to make it clear that if any player does make it, any fee goes straight back into the academy."
Bellamy has reportedly invested nearly £650,000 (about $1,269,000) of his own money into the foundation and the academy is set to include 14 new leagues and 68 new boys' teams and employ 141 managers and coaches.
While improving the country's football is Bellamy's primary motivation, he also hopes the foundation will lead to more youngsters receiving health awareness education.
MY POV: This sounds like a riveting, exciting project. It's nice to see a footballer using his money for good instead of instant gratification. Many think Bellamy is a bit of a malcontent based on his history. But whomever he may be, he should be applauded for trying to help.