Stirling Observer

Dumyat climb fundraiser

- STUART MCFARLANE

For 12 years, one Gambian football team has become a slice of Stirling all due to a chance encounter with a Causewayhe­ad man.

Bill Gillespie visited the West African country back in 2009 for his 25th wedding anniversar­y with his wife Janet and after building up a rapport with a local team in the village of Mandinary, he has been supporting them with kits and football equipment ever since.

The club has since changed its name to Gambinos FC in honour of Bill’s beloved Stirling Albion and the club - as well as their supporters - have becomeinvo­lved over the years in supplying Binos kits to the club’s various academy squads.

But with Covid presenting a fresh challenge for the locals in the village, Bill is joining up with the Albion squad, staff, directors and fans alike for a special fundraisin­g climb of Dumyat on September 26 aimed at supplying hot meals for around 120 Gambinos players.

Bill said: “Over the last couple of years, we’ve obviously had Covid and while it’s been bad enough here, over there it hasn’t been so bad because of the heat.

“But the travel and tourism industry has just completely died and in the village where the Gambinos play, around 70 per cent of people work in the tourism sector so people are going hungry.”

He went on: “Albion helped me out a bit at the start of the pandemic and raised about £1700 and we donated that to the Gambinos, sending over about £200 a month for food which got distribute­d between families until the money was done.

“It lasted about six or seven months but things have still got worse and so I approached Albion chairman Stuart Brown at the club to see what we could do and that’s how the idea of the hill climb came about.

“It’s being run by the first team physio Kenny

Crichton and we’re hoping to raise a quite substantia­l amount to be able to give everyone in the academy one hot meal per day.

“The Gambinos are a wee slice of Forthbank over there and Stuart has been great in really making them a part of the club and we’ve had many collection­s from fans over the years who have been fantastic.”

Among those confirmed for the climb - named ‘Binos Feeding Binos’ - include Albion manager Kevin Rutkiewicz, some members of the first-team squad, as well as physio Kenny.

Bill added: “We can all go up dressed in our Albion tops and it’s really well organised so far; we’ve got Highland Spring providing some water so we’re just hoping to get a good number heading up.

“I’ve got some kit from the Albion and training equipment to send over as well so to send that over and get them something to eat will cost about £800 but it would be great to give these kids a bit of normality and something to look forward after such a tough time.”

 ??  ?? Previous effort Stirling Albion chairman Stuart Brown led members of his family, friends, Junior Academy reps and some fans to the top of Dumyat on September 1, 2019.
Previous effort Stirling Albion chairman Stuart Brown led members of his family, friends, Junior Academy reps and some fans to the top of Dumyat on September 1, 2019.
 ??  ?? Alliance The Gambinos from Mandinary in The Gambia, named in honour of Stirling Albion, Bill Gillespie’s team
Alliance The Gambinos from Mandinary in The Gambia, named in honour of Stirling Albion, Bill Gillespie’s team

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