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Pre Season in Kenya with Ronan Lynagh

UCD AFC's Ronan Lynagh travelled to Kenya to volunteer this summer.web2

 

Ronan Lynagh is an integral part of the Leinster Senior League squad in UCD AFC. His boundless energy and intelligent use of the football set him apart. Working as a volunteer in Kenya for the summer his football skills are not the only things that have set him apart. Here is his incredible story as he puts himself at the heart of the community.

 

web3I have been between Nairobi and Mombasa for the Summer working with the local communities and experiencing a completely different way of life. It has been an unreal experience and as the weeks have gone by in a blur my mind has wandered towards home and more particularly UCD’s Leinster Senior League set up. With pre season starting back home it was time for me to find a team with whom I could rediscover my touch and fitness. The Caretaker in one of the schools we work in used to be a semi pro, and he took me down to his local team, Freretown FC. They are a fairly standard community in Mombasa, a lot of unemployment, more tenements and shacks than actual houses, but genuine down to earth people...and the football pitch seems to be at the hub of the village! They train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, with a tournament on a Friday, and the odd match on Sundays!! I've been training with them the last two weeks now.  The pitch is pretty much sand, not very even...but being located at the centre of the community, you'd regularly have a 100 odd people just sitting round and watching the training sessions.

 

They invited me to play in a match last Sunday...I assumed it was a friendly, but when I turned up I found it was a Cup Final between the two local rival communities!! About 2,500 lined all around the pitch, with a commentator there giving it socks for the whole game in Swahili. Long Story short, I managed to set up the second goal after coming on into the 2nd half, and we drew 2-2.  As it gets dark fairly quickly, the game went straight to Penalties. I didn't want to get involved as it was between the two communities, so I was happy enough when 5 lads stepped up no bother...except nearly everyone missed, and come the ninth peno, 4th of Sudden Death, I had to take one...Only white man out there...  Slotted it home...they missed, and Freretown were the Champions, getting some financial reward, and believe it or not, a goat, for their Victory! Crazy Stuff!

 

Before I left for Africa at the beginning of the Summer, UCD AFC kindly donated a set of jerseys to be given to a local team. The original idea was to giveweb5 them to school children but they were never going to fit the primary school children so I decided instead to give them to Freretown FC.  They had a kind of celebration/friendly match last night, with the volunteers (6 of us) and their own golden oldies vs the actual current team. The game ended 5-5, and then there was a short presentation and few words from different people. Freretown FC are a sound group of lads, and seriously grateful for, and deserving of the jerseys!!