Africa Cup of Nations 2017

by ACT

  • Posted on January 13, 2017

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….Football provides an escape from poverty

This Saturday, Gabon will play Guinea-Bissau in the first match of the African Cup of Nations, marking the 31st edition of Africa’s biggest football tournament. Hosted in Gabon this year, 16 teams will battle it out for the title of top national side on the continent –a feat currently held by Cote d’Ivoire after theybeat Ghana on penalties in a thrilling final in 2015.

A number of players in England’s top football divisions are participating in the cup and could be absent from their club teams for up to a month, including Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Leicester’s RiyadMahrez and Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha. The chance to represent their home countries will no doubt be a sobering reminder of their origins, away from the glamour of playing in England’s top football leagues that they have grown accustomed to, and none more so than Jacques Maghoma, the Birmingham City winger.

Having grown up in Lubumbashi, the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Maghoma’s family moved to the UK when he was a teenager and started his football career at Tottenham Hotspur youth academy in 2003, aged 16. He left behind a city and country that has been savaged by decades of civil war, violence and corruption, after the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Although the civil war ended in 2003, instability, crime and terrorism have left the country unstable, with more than 40 people recently losing their lives due to the unrest resulting from the current government’s failure to put in place plans for democratic elections. A deal, brokered by bishops of the Catholic Church, has now been reached with elections to be held in 2018.

f2The wars and ensuing instability have increased poverty among the rural population, to the point where education, even at a primary level, is unaffordable. In 2016 ACT started supporting disadvantaged children and orphans in a rural village near Lubumbashi, making the DRC the newest African country in which we operate. For these children who, unlike Maghoma, do not have the opportunity to move to the UK and become professional footballers, ACT is the difference between receiving an education and growing up in poverty. ACT is partnering with the Lighthouse School in Lubumbashi, sponsoring the education of six children in a city where the prospects and outlook for children is usually grim.

We wish Jacques Maghoma, along with the DRC nation team and other countries where weare active, all the best in the tournament!

To find out more about how ACT is educating disadvantaged children and orphans in Africa, click here.

To make regular donations to sponsora child with ACT, click here.

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