Bellamy to admit girls in academy

Craig Bellamy in Sierra Leone
Bellamy makes a point to some of the boys at his academy (Photo courtesy of Craig Bellamy Foundation)

Craig Bellamy hopes to create opportunities for girls in Sierra Leone by welcoming them into his academy.

The Wales forward made the announcement after spending 10 days evaluating progress at the academy he set up as a vehicle of hope in a war-torn nation.

"We had a pilot project last year for the girls and this year's league has been remarkable," the Welshman said.

"We need to start a proper girls' league and I hope to have girls in my academy in the future," he added.

The Craig Bellamy Foundation (CBF) in Tombo village, just outside Freetown, is the first and only professional football school in Sierra Leone.

It opened its doors last September and has 16 young boys who represent the first generation of players registered in the academy.

"I'm impressed with the structures and pitch at this academy," Bellamy told BBC Sport.

"The pitch is of European standard; it's exceptional and one of the best in Sierra Leone.

"Facilities for the boys are perfect but we need to have more classrooms in the future."

During his 10-day visit, Bellamy had several training sessions with the boys and was greatly impressed by what he saw.

"The boys responded well to my training but don't forget that a lot of my methods are European - that's what I do in training," he said.

"It's difficult for the boys to adapt but they're picking up things quickly.

"I understand how difficult it is to put kids in school in Sierra Leone because you have to pay fees but if they want to play football then they have to be able to go school.

"It'll be a win-win situation because the kids love football so much."

Many of the boys told BBC Sport that they enjoyed training with the Welsh star and have learnt a lot from him.

"The training we received was good. We loved it," said 12-year Samuel Tarawalley.

"He has taught us many things, including how to dribble."

Another trainee in the academy, 12-year-old Ibrahim Kamara, said: "We enjoyed the training with Bellamy.

"He has improved my skills by showing me how to score nice goals, how to dribble and how to make short and long passes."

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