Here at SFC, we are committed to educating, enabling, and empowering youth through our international work. However, there could be billions of children out there who may need the kind of encouragement that inspires them to become the champions of tomorrow. At Sports for Champions, we have always been driven to offer our enthusiasm and tools to help internationally, especially in places that unfortunately lack the support and aid available to us in Great Britain.
In 2019, we embarked on a journey to The Gambia, where we formed two unexpected bonds with Jolly Friends Nursery and St. Mary’s Immaculate School. These institutions, a nursery and junior school located in one of the world’s most unique and breathtaking regions, became the focus of our efforts to make a positive impact through international work.
To delve into his experiences and the work he undertook in Africa, I am joined by Darren Emmanuel, the Managing Director and visionary behind Sports For Champions.
During our initial overseas venture in January 2019, we completed a significant amount of support work.
“Back in 2019, we traveled to the western division with the main purpose of providing sporting equipment to two schools: Jolly Friends Nursery and St. Mary’s Immaculate School. We supplied tennis rackets, balls, footballs, badminton rackets, school stationary, and supplies for the teachers,” explained Darren Emmanuel.
In Western Africa, the absence of basic amenities is concerning, with some Gambian school children even going without food. This saddens us deeply, and we are determined to offer our assistance. At Sports For Champions, we firmly believe that where you’re born shouldn’t hinder your potential for a healthy life. This belief has driven us to collaborate with NGOs and like-minded individuals who share our goal of making a difference in these underserved communities.
Looking ahead, Darren Emmanuel envisions significant goals that can positively impact the well-being and sustainability of these communities.
“My goal is to provide wind turbines for both schools to generate their own eco-friendly electricity. Additionally, I aim to build two functional kitchens for the schools. While parents pay a subscription fee for their children’s education, which includes lunch, some cannot afford these fees, resulting in children going without meals. Unfortunately, these communities lack the social support present in Britain,” Darren Emmanuel shared.
The futures of Jolly Friends Nursery and St. Mary’s Immaculate School hold promise, and our efforts are likely to benefit the broader community as well. Clean, running water is one of the improvements we plan to bring to local villages.
“I intend to install a clean drinking water fountain outside the school gate, benefiting not only the students but also the villagers,” said Darren Emmanuel.
Given the financial challenges and the disregard for basic human rights like access to clean water, we are determined to address these issues. Besides water, we aim to positively impact other facets of well-being.
“I plan to construct kitchens where the schools can employ their own cooks. Furthermore, I’ll donate food each month for children who can’t afford daily lunches,” Darren Emmanuel added.
“There is so much more that the government could do, considering the substantial revenues they receive from Western companies for mining. It’s crucial to establish support systems for these schools, ensuring all children receive an education regardless of their ability to pay fees,” he continued.
Governments often exchange natural resources for cash, but this approach can hurt industries and livelihoods. This practice disproportionately affects the hardworking tradespeople who support their families. When resources like fish become scarce, prices rise, and people must find new ways to sustain themselves.
“During our time there, we witnessed their struggles and saw how many children were going hungry,” Darren Emmanuel observed.
It’s disheartening to witness children in need of nutrition and sustenance. However, through our planned initiatives, we aim to make positive changes in the schools we’ve visited.
“Opportunities for uplift and outreach abound in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, but challenges persist. How do you plan to overcome these obstacles and achieve your future objectives?” I asked.
“I won’t be able to bring tools or tradespeople with me, but everything we need is available locally. My plan is to raise the necessary funds and take them with me to invest directly into their society,” Darren Emmanuel explained.
Our work in Africa aims to empower locals, helping them develop skills and support themselves. By investing in local tradespeople and businesses, we’re not just supporting enterprises but entire families. The skills acquired through our projects can transform their businesses, allowing them to provide for their families for years to come.
“While a Dutch company could build the wind turbines for us, my preference is to source the work from local tradesmen. This way, they can benefit and enhance their skills,” Darren Emmanuel emphasised.
“I also envision creating jobs within these communities for sustainable growth. For instance, hiring someone to cook meals for the children,” he added.
The path forward involves improving infrastructure and providing opportunities. Equipping people with tools and skills enables them to sustain their businesses, families, and communities. Ultimately, it’s about access to the essentials: food and water.
“There’s much to be done, and it’s humbling to come from a country with ample support networks. Witnessing the appreciation for even small gestures, such as distributing pencil cases and t-shirts, is incredibly rewarding,” Darren Emmanuel reflected.
At Sports for Champions, we champion equal rights and aim to make a difference for every child worldwide. This commitment led us to expand our efforts to The Gambia and mainland Europe. We hope to inspire children globally to become tomorrow’s champions, regardless of their background. Our values and initiatives drive us to create positive change everywhere.
Amid a climate of skepticism surrounding charities due to news stories and scandals, Mr. Emmanuel has a distinctive approach.
“I want our approach to be different from other fundraisers. Recognition or support isn’t our main focus,” he asserted.
“I aspire to achieve complete transparency. I aim to present all receipts and show precisely how every donation is utilized,” Darren Emmanuel emphasized.
This endeavour offered profound insights and broadened our horizons to the least privileged parts of the world. It highlighted the stark disparities between our world and theirs. Despite challenges, one of our team members contracted Malaria during the journey. Thankfully, they experienced mild symptoms and are now well.
Finally, if you’re interested in contributing to our second venture in the Western Division, any donation, regardless of size, would be greatly appreciated in our pursuit of future goals.
Have you ever lent a helping hand overseas? We invite you to share your experiences on our social media platforms or leave a comment here.
To learn more about our ongoing efforts and the impact we’re making in The Gambia, check out our follow-up blog detailing the progress and outcomes of our initiatives.