An orphanage football program at Ibun Primary School in Bugembe has seen their fascination with English Championship club AFC Bournemouth rewarded with football kits worth thousands of pounds from a club fan Steve Butler and captain Steve Cook.
In a country where many identify with the bigger English football clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, in Bugembe, these young children have struck an unlikely accord with AFC Bournemouth.
The reason behind the close relationship of these rural kids to the English club is the story of the Bournemouth’s rise from the English fourth tier to having a five year stay in the Premier League.
Coming from a disadvantaged background, children enrolling at the community orphanage and football academy were encouraged by their coach Joshua Kizza to pick lessons from Bournemouth’s incredible journey to the top.
Kizza, a Bournemouth fan, then introduced the kids to the club, and has since used the club as reference, adopting the name ‘Bournemouth Uganda’.
But lacking the resources to watch the club, the children have continued to learn about the club via radio and more recently through BBC radio following their relegation to the second tier.
Kizza then took videos of the children chanting Bournemouth and also gathered around the radio listening to their game on radio and posted it on social media.
Bournemouth fan Butler landed on the videos and felt that he needed to do more for these children. He started a GoFundMe page to seek funds for the orphanage, a campaign that has raised £2,600.
True to his word, Butler procured football equipment for the children which have since been delivered to the children in Uganda.
Bournemouth captain Steve Cook was also captivated by the campaign and has also sent club shirts, goalkeeper gloves and training kits to the orphanage.
“I thought ‘these children need some help,” Butler told the BBC, adding; “I was hopeful we can give them something so I started a GoFundMe page that has raised just over £2,600.”
“The coaches at the orphanage are obviously doing a really good job – the children out there always seem to be smiling in every picture,” he said.
The Academy enrols young children both boys and girls from the ages of eight to nineteen and helps alleviate their lives by engaging them in sports and also encouraging them to stay in school.
Most of the children are supported by Ibun Primary School with education, but with community pressures, most of them find themselves drop out of school with some engaged in child labour on plantations.
The academy programs have helped change the mindset of many parents and families towards the advantage of education and sport for their kids.
Kizza’s dream is to see some of the children develop into future stars but most importantly play for Bournemouth.