Sunday 14th August 2011: Today’s Sermon

Good morning, on such a special day – for the first time in my life, I’m 46 years old. I’m in Reading, I’ve been driving, making calls on speakerphone so I don’t get into trouble with the policemen, seeing some of the sights and some of the places I grew up in.

I’ve just been driving along a road where the gangs of lads, and maybe some lasses, were trying to nick, smash and grab, throw stones, rocks and anything they could get their hands on, set fire to cars and buildings, and of course do any damage they could to our police force.

Writing this Sermon at 8am, the roads are empty and it’s surreal, this area is close to Reading FC’s old ground Elm Park, and so many of my old school friends came from this area, where I grew up.

I wonder what it is and what has happened to make these young people feel that this type of behavior is OK? I wonder what it is that makes them resent any form of discipline or authority? I wonder what type of upbringing they have had? I wonder what makes them tick – what is their motivation?

I notice they’re all being arrested, marched up to the court to be fined for being naughty, but surely there are much deeper issues that need to be addressed.

What is the parents’ role in all this? The power has been taken away from the teachers in the schools, you can’t tell anybody off now, or discipline anybody without being disciplined themselves, or threatened with the sack.

Good old Margaret Thatcher, who was great for me personally, earning good money as a professional footballer, with low taxes, but who also sold off the fields, the pitches where people could go out and play, exercise and have a ‘match’. The only ‘matches’ that are taking place at the moment are far removed from a game of football.

These issues in society in my opinion are difficult to address. There are far too many do-gooders who try and make things politically correct, a lack of discipline in the schools, and lack of discipline in too many broken homes, and too much greed.

Last week I was asked by a reporter why I go out to Africa every summer to work for Coaching For Hope. This summer I was in Botswana, 90 minutes west of the capital where they have high levels of unemployment and just about enough food to survive. Some have TVs and a few have got cars and if you had a bike you were lucky. A few of those that I coached had football boots, some of them played in bare feet and a lot of them walked for miles to  get there and get home each day. The food they were given by the charity at lunchtime was I think the highlight of their day. And God bless, I never had a problem with 22 teenagers arguing, moaning, complaining of being tired, bored, asking when they can go on the Playstation – they were simply just happy. Happy every day. Big smiles, full of energy, unspoiled,  not greedy – and they have nothing.

And all of these young people here complaining they’ve got nothing – it’s so sad.

When I drove home from Nottingham Forest the other night, having drawn a game of football, I was exhausted and very happy as I made my way back to my house. But it was like a scene from a movie as nine police vans rushed past my car, blue lights a-blazing, sirens howling, it was unbelievable. There were hardly any cars on the road. And then in front of me I saw loads of police horses, and loads of police hovering and wandering around as I tried to navigate my way through back home. Strange really. I know my Dad, God bless him, would turn around and say “they need a good hiding”, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that, or sticking them in front of a court. I just hope something positive comes out of this, and that everybody doesn’t go into denial.

It’s now back for another healthy day on my diet. Two months living in a hotel has helped me pile on the pounds and while I was there I indulged in that special diet: ‘The Four Breakfasts Plan’.

It goes like this:

6.30am.

1) Coffee, fresh fruit and yoghurt.

2) “Yes that omelette the chef is making looks great, I’ll have one of them.”

3) “The bacon looks nice and crispy, the mushrooms are fresh out, stick a tomato on there and some scrambled eggs, bit of toast under the griller that never cooks it properly and another coffee.”

4) “Those mini-croissants do look good. And those mini-Danish pastries and Pain Au Raisins. Go on then, just a couple.”

Repeat this plan for two months and it’s a guaranteed way to put on a stone.

I suppose it’s OK when a few people point out that you’ve put on a few pounds and as you do, you turn your nose up at them and say “mind your own business”.

But when there’s 10,000 people and you’re stood in that little white rectangle on the side of the pitch and they’re all singing “You Fat Bastard”, you tend to think that it’s about time to get on and lose a bit. So for my birthday celebration it’s looking like more salad, and more grilled chicken.

Have a lovely day,

Martin.

Sunday 24th July 2011: Today’s Sermon

Good morning,

Firstly, after last week’s “If I was Prime Minister the first thing I would do is…” comment, a very kind person has sent in a lovely poem that I thought I’d share with you…

The Day Martin Allen Became Prime Minister

All the banks gave away their money
Jimmy Tarbuck said something funny
Marilyn Monroe sent kisses from the grave
A Scottish goalkeeper made a fantastic save

The Match Of The Day Tune was played on Big Ben
The day Martin Allen moved into Number ten
Palm leaves were held by the stems
Mad Dog walked across the Thames

“A miracle”! The Archbishop cried
Martin said was it?
Then Graham Souness thought it’s now or never
Then proudly came out the closet

The crowd went ecstatic and sang You’ll never walk Alone
Then Mad Dog said it was legal for the Ganja to be grown
He sold the monarchy to the States
On a thousand year lease
They all moved out to Hollywood and gave us all peace
He received an autographed photograph
From the cup winning team of Dynamo Dubrovnik
The day Mad Dog formed the British Democratic Republic

His Play-Off Teams were given the seats in the House of Lords
And the peers were sent to Dagenham to work at Ford’s
Political power was handed down to the conscience of youth
The Sun newspaper actually told the truth

The world’s loneliest bachelor became happily married
To the world’s loneliest spinster
The day Mad Dog became Prime Minister

Alan Hansen was relied upon to say something bland
Middle England, public smoking and the off side trap were banned
Nostradamus had prophesied it
John Cooper Clarke became the Poet laureate
The planet was visited by captain Kirk
The aristocracy were put to work

There was a fair distribution of the Commonwealth
Real Ale was put on the national health
Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!
Echoed down the corridors of Westminster
On that great and unforgettable day when Mad Dog became Prime Minister

_______________________________________________________

As a young footballer, I spent a lot of summers during pre-season in remote parts of Sweden and Norway.

The people were very calm, very serious-looking people, the countryside was beautiful, the pace of life much slower and reserved. There’s very little crime, a lot of lakes, a lot of trees and it seemed, content people living a disciplined lifestyle.

Seeing the pictures on TV and the pain and heartbreak that man has caused to so many people, it is to me quite staggering.

I wonder what it was that tipped him over the edge – to do something so extreme, to carry out such a barbaric act in such a peaceful, calm, nice part of the world?

Of course now this morning he is enemy number one, however, and this may sound a bit bizarre, I would like to meet him, just to ask him what it was, and why he has done these things. If it’s something in his upbringing that was totally extreme, as there must be something in his life that has affected him and taken him down this route.

I wonder if his family know, I wonder how they must be feeling in the devastation that their ‘blood’ has caused.

Shocking, shameful and very, very sad, but it could happen at any time, any place, to anyone.

_______________________________________________________

How crazy is it that so many incredibly talented young people die so young?

It’s so sad that Amy Winehouse has lost her battle with her addiction.

People thought that Albert Einstein was mad – but he was proved to be a genius. The same applies to Amy, as well as numerous other talented people who have tragically lost their lives too soon. The highs are high, but the lows can be too much.

Best wishes

Martin

Sunday 17th July 2011: Today’s Sermon

Good morning,

My Sunday Sermon today comes from an Army base in middle England, where I’ve taken a group of men to give them an insight into military life, ethics and principles.

Team-building, team-bonding can be done in many different ways – in the old days it was a round of golf followed by as many beers as possible, where all the players were supposed to get to know each other well with the alcohol obviously playing its part in loosening up people’s tongues!

These nights out often led to fights, women problems, police problems and serious hangovers.

I remember Gordon Strachan’s famous quote: “Team spirit is about going away from home, winning 1-0, sitting on the back of the bus exhausted, proud, knowing that you’ve done your job together.”

On arrival they were handed jackets, shirts and trousers, all matching. Jewelry was removed and the men were taken to their dorms. Each dorm has eight single beds. The mattress is shiny, plastic and filled with sponge.  They all have to make their own bed, which includes those horrible grey, itchy, scratchy blankets and a poxy pillow that crushes as soon as you put your head on it.

They were taught to make their beds by the manager of their particular dorm and team.

Of course, these things are mentally testing.

Do you turn your nose up at it?

Do you have an attitude towards it?

Or do you accept it, respect it and make the most of it?

Next they were taken, dorm-by-dorm, with their Army managers to the fitness centre – and the players jaws dropped with fear.

These PTI’s in too-tight white vests, Mr Universe bodies, skinheads, welcomed the groups in with serious attitude and a look that told the players they meant business. But immediately the players were informed they were to do command tasks which involved communication, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, respecting others, respecting the person’s decision, skillfully challenging the person in charge with respect – all attributes these young men will need to be successful.

The players loved it and I loved it, as I sat, watched and listened with an inner grin.

Dinner was served in the cafeteria where they had to pay for their own food just like being at school, with the brown wooden tray. Each player was given a brown envelope of cash to cover breakfast, lunch and dinner through to Wednesday. If the Inland Revenue would like to contest this payment, I can assure them it is not a benefit in kind. It is food to survive.

Our Saturday night was spent in a room 20 yards x 30 yards painted magnolia, with magnolia curtains, dark green carpet, brown tables and chairs with a dartboard, table football, pool table and poker set. The small bar in the corner was more like a shelf and a fridge and the 26 players and five staff had a famous time.

I sat quietly in the corner like an MI5 spy, my eyes wandering around the room hoping our seven new signings would integrate, seeing how our young players, away with the First Team for the first time would conduct themselves in this environment.

All of them had a few beers and all the bad publicity footballers get, and I stand by my words, across the game they are 99% working-class decent people.

At 11.30pm a taxi arrived outside, and it wasn’t to take a tricky few out into town to a nightclub. It was my surprise – a late-night Chinese takeaway. Their faces lit up like kids on Christmas Day. Our Sports Scientist and Nutritionist, both fresh out of university, were having heart attacks but I know that happy players are good players and the occasional treat goes a long, long way.

The highlight of the night was on the midnight curfew when the whole squadron cleared the 20×30 room of cans, bottles, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, boxes, bags and bones, and left the room spotless. This was a good sign. And the MI5 man in the room was chuffed to bits.

They were all up at 6.30am, beds specially made and they were all ready in their Army outfits for their marching drills.

Why is it important for footballers to do this?

“It’s just another mad thing he’s doing…”

As the guy with the too-tight white vest firmly showed them how to walk, stand, talk, where to put your eyes, to respect their team-mates, work alongside each other, follow instructions, it was awesome to watch. The players laughed, mistakes were punished with ten press-ups. People with hands in their pockets – ten press-ups. People with hands on their hips – ten press-ups.

The players marched around, turning left, moving right, upping the speed but working in units within their team, within their squadron. I loved it.

As I’m writing this, they’ve all gone paintballing where they will have to plan their strategy, seek leadership within their group, make decisions and go all out to win.

All this stuff is certainly not mad.

After lunch today it’s sleep and rest for the afternoon followed by football training this evening.

One day, when I’m Prime Minister, the first thing I will introduce is a one-year programme of National Service for everyone at the age of 18. Re-introduce decent behavior, respect of your elders, basic life skills – it would set these people up for life to just have been involved with the British Army for just one year.

I hope and pray that what we all learn here for these few days will be with us all, not just for the coming season, but for the rest of our lives too.

Best wishes,

Martin

Sunday 3rd July 2011: Today’s Sermon

Well good morning,

After a wonderful couple of weeks in Africa, meeting young people, working with football volunteers in far-out villages on a rocky, shaly football pitch, some of them with no boots or shoes and the only kit being the smile that they wore, I returned last Sunday to drive down to Reading, pick up Monty and go and watch a local six-a-side competition.

Whilst I was away, I was passed a book by the boss of the charity Coaching For Hope, called ‘Why England Lose’. It was so good I read it twice, and made lots of notes. There are so many subjects within that book that are intriguing, fascinating, unbelievable, but real. I’m not gonna go into them all now, but it’s a book definitely worth reading whatever your age, and whatever your football philosophies are.

Under 13’s being told ‘well done’ for kicking the ball as far down the pitch as possible. Under 13’s being taught how to go man-for-man and elbow the opposition. Managers drinking cans of lager non-stop for four hours as they shouted at the kids. A dad, in the Under 10’s semi-final, when his boy’s team had lost, walked ten yards onto the pitch and said, with his finger pointing as the boy looked up at him:

“We’re out because of you”.

“Keeper – don’t roll it, kick it”. Dads shouting at a 15 year-old referee, just starting out in the game.

‘Why England Lose’ came to my mind.

And then a team came on. The keeper picked the ball up and the defenders pulled of wide. The keeper rolled the ball out and the midfield player went short to get it, before switching out to the other wide player. He then went back to the centre-back and his team completed six passes in 30 seconds, which must have been more than the other team played in all their games.

The manager was calm, the parents said nothing, the boys played good football, no-one argued with the ref, they all had plenty of touches of the ball, it looked to me as though they all enjoyed it, there was no hype that they had to win and there was no finger-pointing when they lost in the semi-final.

The manager / coach / dad was a credit and to be fair there were a few others that were also doing it the right way. As I was leaving, the manager of the ‘football’ team and my paths crossed. As you can imagine, coming from Reading and being nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ I have to keep my head down and not get involved in any situation that could lead to trouble. Sadly for me, that is what it’s like. I wondered what he was going to say, or do, and he immediately asked me what I thought of his team. How refreshing. I patted him on the back, congratulated him and said how proud he should be. He explained to me how he did it and as I drove away, having worked with all those boys in Africa, who just play football because they love it, whose children are much better at football than they are in this country, who practise all the time, who play all the time, it’s uncomplicated, it was a weird feeling.

Why England Lose.

It is good that people do take part in managing, coaching and training young teams. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of time and is a big commitment. When I first started with my first team, it was Winchester City Under 9’s, who I took through to Under 10’s. Alec, the Skinhead, paint-flecked dungarees, painter and decorator, was the manager and I did his coaching, training and picked the team. I was playing at Portsmouth at the time but had a terrible knee injury. I was bored, I was fed up and I knew my left-knee wasn’t gonna last much longer, if at all. We met at a sports hall in Winchester for the first time, and I know Winchester is a posh area but I had most of the kids from the rough bit.

I spoke to all the parents and asked them to come to training and not just drop their child off and dash home, but to come to training with their son and embrace what we do. Every week six or eight of the dads would be with us, watching, listening, hopefully learning and encouraging all our players to pass on the grass and show some ball skills. This team had the same players every week – we did not go around, like I saw on Sunday, poaching the best players from the other teams. We got better and better .We started to train on Saturday morning from 10am to 11am and we continued to play football with passing only, on the grass. It was an unbelievable feeling when we started to win some games and the players got the confidence that came from their practising . The parents loved it, the players loved it and Alec stood there quietly with a great big grin on his face every week.

One Saturday morning I got the boys to quickly run out and stand next to me. Virtually right on the halfway line, believe it or not, to the left as we all looked, it was snowing. On the right side of the pitch, believe it or not, it was sunny. For a group of ten year olds and few mums and dads I explained to them that I doubted they would ever see this again in the rest of their lives. It was a magic moment, one I’ll never forget. That has nothing to do with Why England Lose, but it was a lovely Saturday morning moment.

When I managed Brentford we had an FA Cup game away at Southampton, and about eight of those lads and their parents came to the game. Can you imaging what that was like for me? I suppose more to the point, it must have been a bit weird for them too.

Mmm, Why England Lose.

Football is a mad, mad, world. Will England ever win an elusive trophy? I don’t think so. I was sat on my sofa with the curtains pulled next to my Dad when we failed to beat Poland at Wembley in October 1973, when I was just nine. All the lights were off, the room was dark.  Jan Tomaszewski, the Polish goalkeeper was magic and the pundits after the game, and I remember this well although I can’t remember their names, spoke of the changes that were needed. Re-structuring, re-training, different ways of coaching. And there is change now, people are grafting, learning different ways to bring up and develop young players, but I still don’t think it’s gonna happen because society, the way young people are brought up in this country, there are so many other things to do. All the green areas on housing estates where people used to have a kick about have gone. Kids can’t play out on the streets at night for reasons I’m not gonna go into on a Sunday morning. And those stupid video games, Playstations, that Facebook stuff, I would love to confiscate them from every household in Great Britain and dump them in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to get young people off their backsides and out to socialise, actually speak to people, and play sport.

Mmm yes, that would be my first move as Prime Minister, to enable me to write the new best-selling book, ‘Why England Win’.

God bless you, have a great day,

Martin

Sunday 19th June 2011: Today’s Sermon

Good morning, and Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, God bless him, who I miss so much.

I’m sat here at Gaborone airport watching two blokes in bobble hats and lime/yellow bibs cleaning a propellered aeroplane with some old cloths. I’ve been lucky enough to fly on a lot of the aeroplanes around the world but I’m sat here drinking this Cappuccino, questioning my sanity, and absolutely bricking it with the thought of getting on this little plane for half an hour, to journey into the jungle and try and see some animals.

At home this morning, I’m sure many young people will be cleaning their Dads’ cars just like these two fellas are cleaning this aeroplane. The last time I saw a plane this small it was inside a Christmas cracker.

The past week has been awesome. A half hour drive every morning down a road with baboons sitting on the hard shoulder, ducking in an out the traffic into the middle of nowhere and a little village football pitch, no grass, just that orangy-brown shaley shingle with a few stones and rocks, and 22 volunteers who coach and train in the local surrounding villages, for me to train, look after and help develop their coaching skills.

You may think that the people are poor as most of them have no shoes or football boots and turned up each day in the same clothes or training kit. But they are immensely wealthy. They possess smiles on their faces from when they arrive at 9.30am right through to when training ends at 4pm. Their positive energy, enthusiasm, respect for each other and their willingness to learn, take on board information and share, brings joy to me to be around them.

They have no money, very few have jobs but they are at peace with themselves and very, very happy with what they’ve got. When I gave out my sister’s teenage sons’ football boots, trainers, school shirts and my training kit they clapped, hugged each other and all of them together sang and danced for me to show their appreciation.

Yesterday afternoon, as we set off back to our hotel we watched as the coaches set off on their long journeys by walking or by the shuttle minibuses that come along every couple of hours. It’s very sad really but these people are so, so happy.

At the start of the week the coaches and I agreed that the work we did would be for the future generations of children in Botswana. Sport is very low down on the list of priorities here and everything is focused on education to try and improve their welfare. Yesterday morning as one of the ladies had her 15 minute coaching ‘test’, four little children were playing on the side of the pitch. None of them had shoes on; one of them had a bike. The bike had no front tyre and no brakes. It meant so much to me, 20 minutes later when the four little children were copying the exercises we had been doing on the training pitch – it made my whole trip worthwhile.

Last night, after a tiring week, I crashed into bed early to watch Rory McIlroy playing golf at the US Open. At one of the breaks on the TV coverage, there was a report from McIlroy’s trip to Haiti as an ambassador for UNICEF. Now there ain’t no-one that old MadDog is ever gonna be an ambassador for, but when the TV guy explained that the trip had put life into perspective for a young Irishman after some testing times in big competitions, and that he sees life differently now, well I know exactly how he feels.

I got back to the hotel the other night for dinner and was taken in by the waiter’s offer of a cut-price deal for the ‘Botswanan Buffet’. How fantastic! The geezer didn’t tell me about the worms. The geezer didn’t tell me about the intestines. Of course, the large maggot-like worm went down in one go and the intestines slid down with a grin, much to the amusement of the others at the table.

Also, in the same hotel, our waiter for breakfast everyday had one of those gold name tags pinned to his white shirt. He was immaculate – six foot three, perfect white teeth, beautiful complexion, chiseled cheekbones – a real charming, good looking chap. The name on his nametag was… ‘Big Boy’. You can imagine the banter at breakfast every morning!

Lastly there was a great guy on the course whose name was Dimpo, he works for Coaching For Hope, the charity that I’m out here with. One afternoon we were sat down for a chat with Dimpo and he told me he was a coach for the U17’s of the next village along, just ten minutes away. The name of his team was ‘Bollux FC’. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I took a trip out there and there it was on the front gate ‘

‘Bollux FC’!

Thank you so much to the people from Skillshare International and Coaching For Hope for inviting me out here for a truly memorable experience.

Best wishes,

Martin

 

Sunday 12th June 2011: Today’s Sermon

It’s a funny old feeling this morning, knowing tomorrow morning I’m gonna be waking up in Africa, in a country called Botswana.

I’m going out working for a charity called Coaching For Hope and it’s five days work, mornings and afternoons, trying to train their local coaches how to teach football and play football.

There couldn’t really be a greater contrast to what I’ve had to do in the last couple of weeks.  Non-stop emails, texts, telephone conversations, meetings with players, agents and others to negotiate contracts as footballers.

Some want crazy money, some unrealistic, some greedy and in contrast most of the locals I’ve worked with in Cape Town and Burkina Faso have no mobile, no TV, no laptop, no Playstation, no Xbox, very little money, very few clothes and quite often just enough food to live on.

It’s mad. They all turn up with big smiles on their faces, they play on stony, shingly, dirty, bumpy pitches, rock hard with no grass, sometimes with no boots and yet they’re all so happy. It’s mad.

My sister has got four lovely boys. She’s given me a great big bag of old clothes, shoes, boots and trainers for the young people and it will be magic giving out things that we take for granted – and seeing their faces, with such big smiles will be in stark contrast to some of the people that I’ve had to be dealing with recently.

After the course I’ve got a few days and I’ve taken the option not to book anything and find the cheapest form of camping out in the bush. I hate spiders, I run from mice, I’m petrified of snakes, and this is probably one of the craziest things for me to ever do.

I’ve never been camping and I suppose I can just see it now – a dodgy old yellow tent, a zipper at the end, hopefully one of the blokes has made a fire outside and at about 3am you wake up and hear something walking along outside the tent; sniffing around, slithering about, wondering if it’s the tour guide geezer or a blinking animal. Just writing it scares the life out of me.

It’s all a far cry and a great way to escape, to see a different culture and enjoy working with unspoiled, kind, caring lovely people who share a love of one special thing – whether you’re rich and famous or ‘Joe Public’ and skint  - and that love, that leveler that we all share, is the game of football.

Lastly, I was going into the garage to pay for my petrol the other day and some bloke turned around and said:

“Oi! Are you Martin Allen?”

I looked and in that split second you never know what he might say or do. I quickly smiled and said “Yes mate.”

He said “I love your Sunday Sermon, why didn’t you write one last Sunday?”

I told him I had a weekend break at home doing nothing, just totally chilling for some peace and relaxation.

He said “I’ve never liked you”, having held his arm out to shake my hand, “but I love the way you write your Sunday Sermon.”

He asked me if I wrote it myself, which I suppose is a compliment. It’s the first time, as I had no idea who reads this, but writing is something I just enjoy – you should try it sometime.

I will do my best to get it sorted for next Sunday as long as my laptop works inside that little yellow tent!

Take care,

Reverend Martin.

Sunday 29th May 2011: Today’s Sermon

Good morning,

It’s been non-stop telephone calls, meetings, persuasion, budget, finance, targets, recommendations, scouts, staff, players, conditions, positions and kicks up the backside. All in all, a busy week.

I sat myself in front of the TV yesterday, ready to watch the big game of the day.  The pre-match interviews of Paul Buckle and Graham Westley, the expectation, tension, anxiety, the match being played at Old Trafford, these two outstanding managers – it got me going, it got my head racing and whet my appetite. I sat there wondering what it would be like to be involved in something like that this time next year.

Paul Buckle is a fantastic young manager – how he gets players down there with a low budget and so far away from everybody I will never know. He has Shaun North as his coach, who I know well from my soccer schools back in the eighties. The pair of them work so hard, Paul got Torquay promoted through the play-offs at Conference level and to be challenging to take his team up to League 1 is quite remarkable.

Graham Westley has now had two straight promotions, from Conference through to League 1. He has done a good job wherever he has been and he certainly maximises the workload of his players, builds them up physically and mentally to be winners. Stevenage will be tough opposition next season.

So here I am now, bombing up the M40 from London to Old Trafford to watch the League 1 Play-Off Final between Huddersfield and Peterborough. All a bit spooky really, everything from that first paragraph and working 24/7 is all about trying to reach something like this occasion today . I will watch the teams walk out on the pitch, I will watch as they warm up, I will soak up the atmosphere and fantasise, dream and store these memories for when my players come back for the ten month competition ahead.

Of course, there are potential dangers in me doing this today; on the way home in my car, bursting with pride, energy, determination and focus, the gentle persuasion of agents to get their players to accept my offers could well turn to threats!

So much is riding on the next two weeks, without a ball being kicked or a game being played – it really is make-or-break.

Saying that, I’m looking forward to my summer break. I’ve been working now as a volunteer for the charity Coaching For Hope for a couple of years and I’m going out again to Africa to work in Botswana, help the coaches to coach, train and develop the young people who don’t always have it easy. It will be so far away from the world that I work and live in and I think it will be ideal preparation for me, and to appreciate just how lucky I am with my health, with my family and to have a job that I love doing.

The relationship between Pro FC and Coaching For Hope, hopefully over the years will see some players from Africa coming over to England – for Pro FC to have a player come over from a Township to train at a professional club would be a dream come true.

Take care,

Reverend Martin.