Monday, 24 March 2008

Chelsea player backs charity

A TOP African football star has given his support to a York charity's worker's drive to help poverty-stricken children.

Non-stop fundraiser Teba Diatta has claimed another big-name coup in her quest to attract support for her Running For Life charity, which is aiming to raise £100,000 to build an educational resource centre in the Senegalese village where many of her relatives live.

A vigil outside Premier League club Chelsea's training ground saw Ghanaian international Michael Essien - one of Africa's most famous soccer idols - sign a shirt which will now be included in a charity auction.

Teba's tireless efforts have seen her set herself a series of celebrity goals to boost the Running For Life appeal, which included meeting Victoria Beckham in Chicago and returning with a pair of the pop star and fashion icon's DVB jeans. She has also gained backing from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, footballers Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and pop group Girls Aloud.

Explaining how she obtained the Essien shirt, 26-year-old Teba, who works at Millthorpe School in York where pupils have also held fundraising events and have collected around £1,300, said: "I was in London and I just thought why don't I go to Chelsea's training ground?' "I waited outside, and when Michael Essien was leaving and I managed to speak to him, he laughed and thought I was being a bit cheeky, but I explained to him that people like him can make a real difference and he was happy to sign the shirt.

"His team-mate Frank Lampard signed it as well, so it is another really good item to get for the auction. I'm passionate about football - although I support Arsenal rather than Chelsea - and while I don't worship footballers, I'm really grateful for the help they have given.

By Mark Stead from York Press

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