26 April 2019

From Canberra to Freetown: a Motivate Football Academy story

| Lachlan Roberts
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Kitsana ‘Jimmy’ Muongsene (left) with his right-hand man Timothy Stephens. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Kitsana ‘Jimmy’ Muongsene knew first hand how expensive it was to pay for football coaching. He also knew how football made him a better person.

So he founded Motivate Football Academy Australia to provide a professional training program to low socioeconomic footballers. Attracting players from Sudan, Liberia, Nigeria and many other countries, Jimmy ran his football academy for refugees or players who had been left out of football because they couldn’t afford the fees.

“I wasn’t the most talented player but I used to train by myself because I couldn’t afford coaching,” Jimmy told Region Media. “But it helped me grow in confidence as a footballer and a person.

“So I thought if I could help a couple of kids with their confidence and mental toughness, I should give it a go. I started the academy six years ago with two kids and now it has grown to around 80 players.

“When I first started, it was just about helping kids for free wherever we could train. I helped a lot of marginalised, disadvantaged African and Arabic kids over the past five years so I never charged them for training sessions or anything.”

Jimmy used to go around to their houses, pick them up and train with them for an hour before dropping them home. Some of them grew into good footballers and some of them gave up after a while, but that didn’t matter to Jimmy.

He just wanted to see them grow as people and to provide a helping hand.

Jimmy with members of his academy in Canberra.

It was a couple of years after that he stumbled across an old friend via Facebook who was living in Sierra Leone and was coaching a young football team in the small west African country. Not content with just helping disadvantaged kids in Australia, Jimmy reached out to his friend to see how he could help football grow in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

“I sent over two boxes of shoes, jerseys and equipment and then the year after some community fundraising, we sent 80 boxes over,” he shared.

“From there, we have paid for a shipping container to go over there and we have sent over 100 pairs of boots, around 50 balls and around 50 training kits.

“With that, they have been able to help around 200 kids and it has grown into another Motivate Football Academy, which is the first and only Sierra Leonean-owned football academy in the country.”

The academy has since been registered with the Sierra Leone Sports Ministry as Motivate Football Academy Sierra Leone and has grown significantly thanks to coaches Abdul Manasaray and Ibrahim Conteh, becoming the largest football academy in the country.

“I never would have expected it to turn into something like this, but it’s all due to the fantastic people over there driving the project,” Jimmy said with a smile.

It is now Jimmy’s dream to head over to Sierra Leone later this year to see how his donations have grown football in the country. By selling chocolates and organising sausage sizzles, Jimmy hopes to raise enough money to visit the academy in November.

“Raising money has moved along slowly but I am not in a rush to go,” he shared. “I just want to head there once to visit the kids.”

To see how you can be involved, click here or send an email to [email protected]. To help Jimmy visit the academy in Sierra Leone, head over to his GoFundMe page.

Original Article published by Lachlan Roberts on The RiotACT.

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