UNITED Kingdom: IT’S AN awful long way from Mid Wales to northern Zimbabwe – but now in a small corner of this southern African country there’s a village football team with a stronger connection to Powys than most.
This season Gwai River Bank FC, who play in the amateur youth leagues in rural Zimbabwe, will be trotting out in the red and white of Newtown AFC after the Welsh Premier outfit donated a set of football kits to the club.
Gwai River Bank FC runs teams for under 12, 16 and under 18 age groups for vulnerable and orphaned children at Tsholotsho, a rural area in Zimbabwe around 300 miles from the country’s capital Harare.
The unlikely link-up came about after Danisa Dube, who works as a social worker in Newtown, emailed Newtown’s club office to see if they could help out by providing some used match kits to Gwai River Bank, the club Danisa helped to start.
But he explains getting vital sports equipment in the football mad nation, which qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, was proving to be a problem until the Robins stepped in.
“The teams recently joined the local amateur league. It has however been a challenge to provide them with adequate football kits, balls, boots, cones and so on,” he said.
“The boys were very happy and appreciated Newtown’s help and support a lot. May your benevolence continue to bless the less privileged. Once again thank you so much. We value and appreciate your continued support.”
Newtown AFC’s finance director Barry Gardner said the club were delighted to be able to help out, and said it showed The Robins were about “more than just football on a Saturday”.
The club runs junior teams from Under 8s right the way through to Under 19s under the guidance of club captain Craig Williams, who holds a UEFA ‘A’ coaching licence, and popular first team midfielder Neil Mitchell.
“We put a message on Facebook a little while ago after we had a sort out of our kit room so we had some spare shirts and things to give away – we do try and re-use first team kits for our academy sides whenever possible but believe it or not the kit does build up,” he said.
“It shows the club is about more than just football and it showcases our work in the community to people who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise see it. Our academy is better than it’s ever been at the moment and we’re working really hard to get out into the community as much as we can.
“We had an email from Dan and we were happy to sort some kit out for the boys.
“We’re really pleased we were able to help Gwai River Bank and I hope they’ll keep us updated with how they get on this season.”