Alnwick teacher passes on vital skills out in Africa

Handing over some of the donated football boots.
Handing over some of the donated football boots.

An Alnwick PE teacher has returned from a successful trip to Africa, passing on vital skills to develop grass-roots sport in underprivileged communities.

Andrew Bottomer, 50, staged a three-day football-training course in northern Malawi, putting 42 primary school sports teachers through their paces, as well as 10 football coaches.

The scene of the football course.

The scene of the football course.

The course, which was based on limited resources and recycled materials, also helped to raise more awareness about HIV/Aids.

During the trip, Andrew worked closely with district sports officer Rowland Harawa.

They visited a local primary school for a day where Andrew delivered 45-minute sessions on cricket, netball and volleyball, which Rowland supported. He has now made a plan to visit local schools on a regular basis and deliver quality sports sessions.

Having returned to Northumberland last week, Andrew believes the sessions will help bring about some positive change in the area.

Youngsters enjoying the volleyball session.

Youngsters enjoying the volleyball session.

He has challenged the participants to keep the momentum going to develop grass-roots opportunities and plans to go back next year to build on the success.

Andrew said: “The course was great. The effort of the participants was amazing in hot, dusty and tiring conditions.

“The trained teachers are now challenged to roll out the course to the other 133 primary schools in the district and hold a football festival.

“If this is a success, we intend to invite the participants to attend a 10-day Football Association of Malawi C Licence coaching course to further enhance their skills in January.

“I intend to visit in July 2018 and deliver a netball/volleyball course to 42 new participants.

“I believe what I am trying to do will have a positive impact of people’s lives. During the trip, I met Abraham Kaunda. I taught him, as a 12-year-old, back in 2000 during a football-coaching course in a village on the shores of Lake Malawi.

“Now, 17 years on, he is a teacher in charge of sports. He said that my visit in 2000 inspired him to become a sports teacher and have a positive impact in his community.”

Andrew’s trip was supported by a number of local groups, organisations and businesses.

For example, donated football boots from Paul Yeadon, of Active Northumberland and Spittal Rovers FC, were given to Chitipa Utd and Chitipa District Under 16 team. Chitipa Utd and Spittal Rovers – the two most northerly league teams in their countries – are now twinned.

Others to support Andrew include Alnwick Lion’s Club; The Salvation Army, Alnwick; Rock Cricket Club; Cramlington Learning Village; Blyth Academy; St Benet Biscop School, Bedlington; The Lord’s Taverners; and National Volleyball Association.