Gambia - the smiling coast of Africa

Richard Mallinson with some of the children he met in Gambia.
Richard Mallinson with some of the children he met in Gambia.

A Gambian football team has adopted the name FC Halifax Town for their community side after a visit from a Shaymen fan.

Richard Mallinson made a return visit to the country earlier this year as a volunteer to assist with a new community centre after first going there in 2010.

During his trip, the locals organised a football match and said they were going to join a local league and call themselves after the Conference North club.

Now he is hoping to raise money for nurseries and primary schools in the village of Wullinkama.

He said: “The potential formation of a new community club called FC Halifax Town to play in the local Gambian Amateur Football Leagues was a complete but pleasant surprise.

“Three years ago I met two guys while watching a football match, on a grass pitch, and we’ve kept in touch via the odd email since.

“They live in the south of the country in a town called Gunjur. Knowing they have a big interest in football, I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind a bit of a kick about.

“They organised a full match of 30 minutes each way on a sand pitch with branches for goal posts and a rope between for the crossbar against an existing team called Oxford United.

“This was the first ever game of the newly formed FC Halifax Town and, for the record, we won 4-1, although I spent a lot of time mistakenly marking the referee!

“I also visited a nursery which is trying to meet the criteria of a garden, a water supply, a kitchen and a store room to qualify for free food from the Government.

“I’m hoping to link the schools and the club together and get some positive publicity for Town and also hopefully raise some funds for the nurseries and primary schools.”