The GFC Community Trust reflect on their recent trip to Sri Lanka as part of the 2014 Take Heart Mercy Mission

In September, three of our GFC Community Trust coaches were given the opportunity to travel to Galle, Sri Lanka, with our club charity Take Heart to be a part of the Mercy Mission and to deliver sports coaching to poverty stricken children for a week.

Every year a group of doctors, surgeons and nurses from the Evelina Children's Hospital in London travel to Sri Lanka, to perform lifesaving operations and help teach medical staff. And this year the charity wanted do add something different to the trip.

The coaches were loaded with balls, bibs, cones and goals, all the necessary equipment needed for coaching, and were all set for the trip, which was sure to be a great experience for all involved.

The trip involved 24 hours of travel with a flight to Dubai from Gatwick and then on to Colombo (the country’s capital) before a long drive down the west coast to Galle.

With over 300 young footballers in attendance at the sports field on the first day, it was certainly obvious that the children were extremely excited to be given the opportunity to play football for the day.

The sessions consisted of various football based games, matches, tournaments, which also saw the school teacher celebrating with his shirt over his head, as well as some time for the children to ask our coaches questions on GFC and English football in general.

The coaches were also given the opportunity to visit St. Aloysius School and see the different lessons happening ranging from biology to religious studies. Whilst at the school the coaches led an assembly where they shared songs famous through the seats of the Rainham End.

The coaches also handed out Take Heart t-shirts which they later saw on the back of a vast number of children running around the streets of Galle.

The trip was certainly a challenging task for all involved, with community coach Jack Knighton saying:"The language barrier along with the size of each group combined with the heat was tough at times, however we adapted to the change quite well and the sessions went better than I could have imagined."

Community Trust Manager Adam Lawrence added: “This trip offered some of our young coaches an exciting opportunity to develop their experiences of coaching in a completely unique way. 

"Our coaches have returned having given hundreds of youngsters a fantastic experience they may not have had otherwise.

"We are delighted that the club's Chairman Mr. Scally invited us to be involved, and look forward hopefully to another trip next year.”

The trip was a great experience for all involved and has left lasting memories on the coaches and players.

To find out more about either the GFC Community Trust or the Take Heart charity, please follow the links.