Point colours now playing in Tanzania

Kiogosi FC in the old Point strips sponsored by Duncan Mackenzie Kitchen Centre
Kiogosi FC in the old Point strips sponsored by Duncan Mackenzie Kitchen Centre

African youngsters are now wearing Point football shirts with pride after a generous wind farm donation.

The Tanzanian youngsters are playing in Point strips thanks to a donation from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Alasdair with a group of villagers in Mahenge

Alasdair with a group of villagers in Mahenge

The trust had donated a new set of strips to Point FC’s Under 18 team in June – strips which instantly brought them luck as they won the local Ladywell Cup on their first outing.

It was a donation that was also good news for other young football players on the other side of the world, as the redundant strips were taken out to Africa by Alasdair Nicholson, who regularly goes to Tanzania to help develop local skills in community enterprise.

Donald John MacSween, Point and Sandwick Trust general manager, said: “Point and Sandwick Trust were delighted to donate new strips to the Point Under 18 team, and even more delighted when they went on to win the Ladywell Cup on their first outing wearing the new strip!

“We are also very pleased that Alasdair was able to take full sets of strips out to local teams in Tanzania during his latest development trip there.”

Point FC Under-18 team with Point and Shandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween

Point FC Under-18 team with Point and Shandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween

Alasdair, who has 30 years experience of community development and social enterprise, said it was great to see how happy the young African players were to receive their strips.

He had brought out two sets of old strips, so was able to help two teams, both in remote areas.

In one case, the strips went to the winning team playing a local friendly.

The other set had already been pledged to a particular team — but they also laid on a game to mark the occasion.

Alasdair’s link to this part of Africa goes back to 2015 when he first went out to Tanzania on a voluntary trip with Raleigh International.

That was a three-month trip and he has been back to Tanzania four times since then.

Alasdair, a founder member of Voluntary Action Scotland and key figure in the creation of Third Sector Hebrides, has been giving workshops on community enterprise, entrepreneurial skills and empowerment, with examples from Scotland to inspire the Tanzanians.

The first team, the ones who got the old Point ‘Rudhach’ strips, were the African Lions from Mahenge.

Alasdair said: “They were playing their nearest rivals and both teams were playing to get these shirts.

“They played very competitively, very entertainingly and in both cases some of them were playing in their bare feet because they didn’t have football shoes.

“When we started handing out the shirts to the team that won they immediately took off their existing kit and put on the Rudhach kit. They were obviously very pleased.”

The next team to benefit from the strips — Duncan Mackenzie Kitchen Centre ones, this time — were Kiogosi FC, from a village near Ifakara. Again they played “a competitive, combative game”, although they had been guaranteed the strips.

Alasdair said: “It’s not just the shirts. In a sense it’s saying to that community, ‘you’re important, you can do things yourself’.

“In that same community, I spent time in a workshop with them, responding to questions they had. In a sense the football was a way in but it wasn’t a thing by itself.”

Alasdair, who was awarded the MBE for services to the voluntary sector in the Western Isles, is modest about his contribution to Tanzania.

“I get some satisfaction in being able to use some of the skills I have in perhaps being able to make a difference in a small way to support others with community development.”

He added: “I think sharing is a good thing to do. We can learn from other countries and communities too, even if they are quite different from ourselves.”

Alasdair, who lives in Back, remarked: “The next time I go back (to Tanzania) I’ll have to maybe balance the equation and take some Back football strips as well…”