Chairman Stuart Brown’s meeting with Bill Gillespie and getting to know Sarr Touray
Over the past few months, I’ve met several times with Bill Gillespie, the inspiration behind our link to the Gambinos, to gain an insight into exactly how he got involved and more importantly how Stirling Albion can help young footballers in a country where for the majority getting food on the table is a major challenge, let alone financing their footballing dreams.
Thanks to Bill, I’ve also been in e-mail contact with Sarr Touray, Manager and Head Coach of Gambinos FC.
He is the driving force in Gambia and has shared with me his concept document for the Gambinos Academy, which ranges from Under 10s to the Senior Team. It is a truly inspirational piece of work that documents Sarr’s ambitions but also identifies the challenges he faces in making it happen.
Whilst I can personally “do my bit” to help Bill and Sarr, the real difference that can be made is to have the power of everyone with an association to Stirling Albion engaged. With that in mind, Bill and I have agreed that forming a Gambinos Committee would best serve our purpose. More detail to follow in the weeks ahead.
- In 2009, Bill and his wife, Janet decided to try somewhere completely different for their 25th wedding anniversary and for reasons unknown they chose Gambia!
- During their holiday they made friends with a young newly married man, Morrow Yarboe and during a visit to his village, Mandinary, they watched his village team (Blackpool FC) play in a local cup final
- The teams had very little matching kit and some had no boots
- On returning home Bill and Janet committed to helping Morrow by sponsoring him and his family, which they still do to this day
- They also decided to organize getting kit to Gambia and Stirling City became the first donors
- Blackpool FC were so appreciative of the help they asked Bill to re-name the team and unsurprisingly, given Bill’s links to The Binos, The Gambinos were born!
- Since then many clubs, including Stirling Albion, and individuals have donated kit, boots, and footballs
- Stirling Albion Supporters Club have for several years have donated money to help the Gambinos with their expenses
The Way Forward
Whilst the donation of kit, boots and footballs is vitally important, the truth of the matter is that money is the key to really making a difference. For most families, providing sufficient food to survive is a challenge and education for their children only happens for those that can afford to pay.
By establishing a working committee, led by Bill, we can explore how best we can assist The Gambinos to go from strength to strength.
Up until now, Stirling Albion’s engagement has been largely low key; now is the time to move up through the gears and make life changing differences for The Gambinos!
The first practical step is in place… I’ve set aside a full set of last season’s home kit, training kit, footballs and football boots to be shipped to Gambia. The cost of shipping is around £200 and this will be met by donations from the Club Board, the manager and his staff and the first-team squad.
If you’d like to know more and/or wish to offer your assistance, please contact Bill Gillespie by e-mail, in the first instance – firstname.lastname@example.org