Liverpool Football Club - this name stands for over 100 years of glorious football tradition. It is also synonym for care and support for the disadvantaged members of the community. The 5 times European champions have been involved in community development work in and around Liverpool for many years. Recently the club set up its own Foundation to give their social programmes a more solid backup.
With the LFC Foundation in place the club owner John Henry and his wife Linda are also broadening the scope of their development work by reaching out to other continents. John and Linda visited WhizzKids United (WKU) in 2009 during their honeymoon. What they saw and experienced during their stay in KwaZulu-Natal left a strong and lasting impression and convinced them to make WKU with the Health Academy at Edendale Hospital one of their supported programmes.
As a part of this fresh partnership, Bill Bygroves and Eddie Sullivan from the LFC Foundation came to visit WKU from 5-8 November 2012. They brought Niall Gibney from The Reader Organisation, which is one of their affiliates in Liverpool. The group from the UK was joined by Themba Chauke and Jongi Mguga, who are LFC Youth Ambassadors to South Africa and represent the United Nations Office on Sport for Peace and Development.
The group was welcomed by WKU CEO Marcus McGilvray, who presented the organisation and all its programmes in Edendale. The 3-day agenda was fully packed in order to get a good glimpse of all the activities that WKU are running to empower the community of Edendale in their strive to promote healthy living.
Tuesday 6 November began with an assembly at Mthethomusha Primary School. Hundreds of students listened to the stories and lessons from Bill and Eddie. With a guitar and strong voices, they told the kids about their programmes in Liverpool and how they tackle violence, drug abuse and other social issue in the UK. A highlight was a demonstration of Bill’s and Eddie’s skills on the ball, which looked very much like what the pro players show every weekend on TV. Next stop was Edendale Hospital, where the Senior Management waited to welcome the guest from Europe. The emotional tour around the hospital lead Bill and his team to the paediatric ward, where they handed over gifts to the youngest of EDH’s patients and had plenty of opportunity for photos. Up on 5th floor the management of Edendale Hospital talked about the cooperation between Department of Health and the WhizzKids United Health Academy and how precious and unique this facility is for Edendale’s youth. The day was rounded up by a training session with the hospital’s very own football team. Bill and Eddie showed themselves impressed about the high level of skills, which they had not expected to this extend. Even the mayor of Edendale took this opportunity to come out and have a look at what at the training methods which are normally only for Liverpool’s superstars like Steven Gerard and Luis Suárez.
Wednesday 7 November started off with a visit to rural Malala Primary School. Not even the rain could spoil the trip there, it just made the crew adapt their plans and move all the activities into one of the classrooms. Once again, Bill and Eddie worked with the students and shared their stories from Liverpool together with plenty of fun games to the kids’ enjoyment. Don’t be surprised if you meet many new Liverpool FC supporters in that area now, which could be because the guests were not holding back with giving out plenty of presents and handshakes. The afternoon was spent at the WhizzKids United Health Academy, with the kids who came in numbers, despite the not stopping rain. Eddie facilitated some of his favourite football drills with the boys and girls at the academy. For the evening the team had received an invitation to Harry Gwala stadium by local PSL team Maritzburg United to watch their home match against Bloemfontein Celtics, which was played successfully and won by 2 goals to 1.
The final day, Thursday 8 November, was spent in Durban. After attending the special assembly at Clarence Primary School, Bill and Eddie ran yet another football training session. This event was so popular that instead of the announced 50 kids almost twice as many came to participate. No problem for Bill and Eddie, who are used to working with youth from many years of coaching experience in Liverpool. The training session was captured and aired by South African TV station e.tv on their 7 o’clock news.
The visit of Bill and his team marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between WhizzKids United and the Liverpool FC Foundation. This partnership will further strengthen WKU’s work in Edendale together with Edendale Hospital and the KZN Department of Health for the coming years to provide the best standards in adolescent health care to even more members of the community.
WhizzKids United are very thrilled about this wonderful opportunity and proud to have such a big and committed partner in the fight against HIV & AIDS and for a better life for the people of Edendale and South Africa.