Justin Walley from St Peter's Parish in Hinckley, Leicestershire, is leading an African football team to the World Cup for unrecognised states in London starting on May 31.
"It has been an amazing and very rewarding experience," Justin says, "Getting these young men to London and playing against the best players in the world from unrecognsied states and politically isolated regions is a wonderful thing to be involved in."
Justin is managing Matabeleland, a team representing the western region of Zimbabwe. Beginning on May 31, his Matabeleland team will take on the likes of Tibet, Panjab and North Cyprus in a 10-day tournament being held in London.
To get to London, Justin and his fellow coaches have had to raise $30,000 for flights and visas. In April, Justin's own parish of Hinckley held a fundraising event in his absence, raising £800 for the team. "Philip Byrne and Father Frank Daly held a fundraising evening at the parish and so many of the people I know turned up and supported the event. It was wonderful. I am so grateful to Phil, Father and all the parishioners who supported us."
With just a couple of weeks remaining until London, the team is still a couple of thousand short of their target: "If anyone can kindly spare a few pounds, it will help us get over the line and buy those last handful of flights." Justin says. "And we would also love to see members of the church coming down to support the team at our matches in London. Matabeleland is a Christian team with a number of Catholic boys in our squad. We always pray together before matches and will be grateful for the support and prayers of the UK Catholic community, which of course includes many people with roots in Zimbabwe."
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