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Football rises, Victoria Falls

20 November 2012

The spectacular mountains of Northern Italy may have been the setting for the first team pre-season tour, but the red and white shirts of Swindon Town are now a familiar sight on the streets of a Central African city, thanks to an accidental encounter in Sweden a few years ago.

Clive Maguire and Jon Holloway, who have headed up the outstanding work of Swindon Town Football in the Community Trust for many years, were so moved by the story of a Zambian youth team participating in a Swedish tournament, that they initiated a visit to Zambia to see whether they could offer support to community groups and leaders by developing football coaching.

This has resulted in an ongoing commitment to the young people of Livingstone, better known as the tourist centre for access to the Victoria Falls, with long standing links back into the period of British colonial rule.

It was a key city on the route of Cecil Rhodes' proposed pan-African railway, and, in common with Swindon, has a significant railway museum, strengthening the link between the work of the Community Trust and the people of Zambia.

Clive and Jon have now led two coaching teams to Livingstone, and another visit is in the planning for late 2013.

Clive says of the link: "The work we have undertaken in Zambia over the past four years has been extremely rewarding and satisfying for us as a Charitable Trust. The infrastructure we have created with the Coaches Association in the Livingstone region of Zambia, has given us the foundation to build a sustainable working relationship to further enhance and develop the football opportunities for children and young people."

And Bata Soko, Chairman of the Zambian Association of Football Coaches, commented: "We as Livingstone football coaches would like to thank Swindon Town for the continuous support we are receiving and for our working together in the developmental programs."

A group is working alongside another several organisations within Swindon to help broaden links, just as the bond between Crowdys Hill School and the David Livingstone School has started to gather momentum. It is hoped that other schools will join in, together with sports clubs, faith groups, the local authorities and, of course, the Steam Museum.

Cynthia Chisangano, a teacher who spent time at Crowdys Hill earlier in the year, attaches great importance to the link, saying: "The link has created more opportunities in both communities in the sense that a number of stakeholders from the community have come on board to ensure that our link develops further and remains sustainable. The link has strengthened our students' sense of belonging and has helped the students with complex and diverse needs to appreciate differences in other cultures."

The Robins celebrated the development of this link, by welcoming the High Commissioner of Zambia in London, HE Lt Colonal Bizwayo Nkunika to the County Ground, alongside the Deputy High Commissioner and the Press Secretary, during Saturday's victory over Yeovil Town.

He was invited by Swindon's Chairman and Chief Executive, and met with some of those dedicated to working on the link, whilst witnessing some of the Community Trust's positive work. Swindon Town's Community Trust are looking forward to continuing to strengthen the already vibrant partnership between the two towns, creating lasting relationships, and ensuring the red and white of Swindon Town is synonymous with social responsibility, international community development and generous friendship.

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