Cheltenham have picked up the first piece of silverware this season – after a team named after the Robins won the cup in Sierra Leone!
Cheltenham FC are, in fact, a team based in the West African country who wear the kit of the Robins and adopted the name of the club thanks to the work of the Kambia Appeal.
The Kambia Appeal is a UK-based charity, based in Cheltenham, set up in 1992 to help improve health and address the causes of maternal and child mortality in the Kambia district in Sierra Leone.
The Robins has offered on-going support to the charity and donated kit to the charity, which then saw the local team then renamed Cheltenham in recognition.
And now the ‘African Robins’ have tasted success on the field by winning the local district cup in front of a packed crowd of 5,000 jubilant fans.
Simon David, Managing Director at Thomas Legal, was in the country recently with his wife, who has worked with the appeal, as they were setting up their own charity in Sierra Leone.
“They really love their football in Sierra Leone and a few years ago the Kambia Appeal took out some football kit that was kindly donated by Cheltenham Town,” he said.
“The team in Kambia decided that, as a thank you, they would call themselves Cheltenham FC and as the years have gone on they have got very good.
“They are now the best team in the district and in the second division in the country.
“The last time I went out I was lucky enough to watch them play. I actually went to watch the reserves play in front of a couple of thousand fans first – in a game where the referee played in slippers!
“We then raced over to the other side of town for the cup final where around 5,000 people were watching. They won the regional cup final and picked up £500, which to them is a huge sum of money.
“I also went to another match back in February and there must have been 10,000 fans there that day.
“It’s phenomenal to see and hear all these fans chanting ‘Cheltenham, Cheltenham’.”
Simon now plans to continue to return to Sierra Leone as he and his wife continue their work with their new charity the Kambia District Foundation.
“My wife has been going out for the last ten years with the Kambia Appeal and we have now set up another charity to help children and improve the education over there,” he added.
“Last year we built a primary school and were lucky to be there when it opened its doors. There is still much more we can do.”
Everyone at Cheltenham Town is delighted to hear the success of our namesakes in Sierra Leone are the club is now planning to send over a new kit to the team.
For more information on the Kambia Appeal visit www.kambia.org.uk