Football player Co Tyrone on the joy of Senegalese children after receiving shirts from the local club
A local football player from Co Tyrone spoke about his experience traveling to Senegal to help coach and build relationships with the country’s youth.
Marty Hughes, a coaisland a native who now plies his trade with Tummery Athletic in Dromore, traveled with a group of Northern Ireland players organized by Portadown club Ambassadors FC.
The club is involved in a long-term project to develop football grounds in the African country.
Having just returned home from the trip to Senegal, Marty said it was “a no-brainer” for him to go as it combined two of his passions.
Read more: Damian Casey’s vigil attended by hundreds as club remember tragic Tyrone GAA star
“We basically went there to spread awareness about the project and to mentor the kids,” Marty told MyTyrone.
“I was asked in December if I would be interested in doing missionary work and for me it was a no-brainer.
“I love football and I love helping people.
“In the morning we would go see their culture and how they lived, there is a lot of poverty there.
“The kids loved seeing us coming, they weren’t looking at us and I found that so overwhelming.
“They were so happy and had so much gratitude for life.
“We brought coaching equipment with us and had a few sessions with us and they loved it, they love the football there.
“Most of them didn’t even have anything on their feet and no football between them.
Marty also thanked his local club Tummery for providing a set of their own kits to the children he had helped coach over the past two weeks.
“You often complain about the state of our facilities here, but the state of what they play on is incredible.
“I put a few pieces on social media and was overwhelmed with the response from people.
“For me, it just brought me down to earth and allowed me to stay humble and appreciate the things you have in life.
“My club Tummery Athletic organized a charity game which I took part in before leaving.
“They raised a lot of money, which went a long way, and they also organized to send kits.
“If you saw the look on the children’s faces, you’d think they’d just been given a million pounds.
“I’ve only been with the club for 10 months and I just thought it was an amazing gesture.”
Read more: Friends of Damian Casey are hosting a little service in his memory in Spain
Read more: Damian Casey: Tributes pour in for Tyrone GAA star after tragic crash
To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter here.