Fabrice donates gifts from wellwishers to needy children in his homeland
8:53am Friday 15th March 2013 in Local
The shirts were laid at the ground by fans following his cardiac arrest on the pitch in March last year, when Muamba collapsed during the club’s FA Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
The shirts will now travel more than 4,000 miles to the retired midfielder’s homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to be donated by CAFOD to vulnerable children and young people who have become separated from their families through poverty and conflict.
In the emotional days and weeks that followed Fabrice’s collapse at White Hart Lane almost a year ago, the sea of football shirts at the Reebok Stadium, placed by supporters of clubs from all over the UK and Europe, became a symbol of hope and goodwill towards the star as the football community united to “Pray for Muamba”.
Muamba said: “I was, and I am still completely overwhelmed by the support that we got from all around the world, we remain deeply grateful for all the love and prayers from everyone.
“It is marvellous that the tributes can go on to do greater good, and I would like to thank CAFOD for their help in making this happen. There are many, young children facing difficult lives and they remain in my thoughts and prayers.”
Club Chaplain, Phil Mason, who supported players and staff through the incident last year helped Muamba pack away the shirts.
He said: “We are really are like a family here at Bolton Wanderers FC and this time last year we were all hit very hard by what happened to Fabrice.
“It made us pull together even closer and the shirts left here by fans from clubs all over the world made us feel like part of an even bigger family.
“It’s in this spirit that the shirts are being sent to children in Africa who love football and I hope that helps them to feel connected to Bolton Wanderers FC and all of the other football fans in the world.”
Bolton Wanderers chairman, Phil Gartside, added: “Quite literally the whole world was praying for Fabrice to pull through.
“It was an amazing experience to see this and Fabrice has embraced this to try to achieve positive outcomes in a number of areas and this is one of them.
“CAFOD must be thanked for their hard work in achieving the distribution of the shirts and their role in supporting those youngsters who have such difficult lives.”
Muamba and Wanderers’ decision to donate the shirts has been praised by the footballing world, such as FA Chairman David Bernstein and Premier League chief wxecutive Richard Scudamore.
Bernard Balibuno, CAFOD’s programme manager in DRC, said: “The gifts coming to us from Fabrice and Bolton Wanderers are a symbol of hope. In DRC we have a proverb ‘The soul sleeps at home and a tree without roots is short-lived’.
“Fabrice Muamba has not forgotten his roots and he is not short living.”
l See tomorrow’s The Bolton News when we look back at Fabrice’s past year and his road to recovery.
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