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Former Ipswich player and KU worker volunteers in Sierra Leone

By River Reporter Apr 2, 2013

A former KU staff member who played semi-professional football  is now sharing his knowledge with some of the poorest children in Africa.

Ryan Rocastle

Working for the Craig Bellamy Foundation (CBF) in Sierra Leone, Paul Westren is working in a country which is still recovering from a devastating civil war that lasted more than a decade.

He believes that a way out of poverty for the people of Sierra Leone is to educate the youth. “It will take time, but education is the key to empowering them so that they can shape the future direction of the nation positively.”

Success in development

When it became clear he was not going to make it as a footballer he got a job at Kingston University as a student support officer and later went on to become a student ambassador manager until 2012.

“I loved working with the student ambassadors and was proud of my success in developing the scheme so that we achieved national recognition.”

He had long been an admirer of the Welsh international’s charity, which uses football to enable a better future for poverty-stricken children.

When, at the start of this year, he had the chance to volunteer for the organisation he decided to leave Kingston.

Extremely high standard

“I had been monitoring CBF’s work since its inception and followed the ITV documentary Craig’s African Dream. The opportunity to volunteer was too good to turn down.”

Before his work at Kingston University, Mr Westren had dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He played county-level and semi-professional at Ipswich Town and Whitton United.

Mr Westren holds a UEFA B coaching licence and is impressed with the array of talented players he has worked with during his time in Sierra Leone.

“The standard of football at the foundation is extremely high. We have some very talented boys and are about to welcome another 15 as part of the second generation.”

The working conditions and lack of facilities make Mr Westren’s job challenging, but he is keen to pass on his football knowledge to a country where “football is everything”.

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