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West Ham´s Bellamy unveils Sierra Leone academy plan

SoccerNews in English Premier League 6 May 2008

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West Ham striker Craig Bellamy plans to build a football academy in Sierra Leone in an attempt to help the country's young players develop into global stars.

Bellamy visited the war-torn African country last year and was so impressed by the local talent that he vowed to give them improved facilities to hone their skills.

The Wales international has followed up on his pledge and on Tuesday he announced the Craig Bellamy Foundation is set to start the construction of an academy in the capital Freetown which will 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, the former Liverpool player knows Sierra Leone has the worst child mortality rate in the world and hopes the foundation will lead to more youngsters receiving health awareness education.

Bellamy, who has reportedly invested 650,000 pounds of his own money into the foundation, said: “Because of what's happened over the years with the war, children haven't had any opportunity.

“They haven't been thrown a football, they've been thrown a gun.

“Now we can give them a chance that their fathers or grandfather's 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.

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