This week we talked to our longest-standing member of staff, TackleAfrica’s very own in-house Father Christmas, and the creator of the now legendary football marathon: Tom Colborne. Based in the UK now, Tom’s TackleAfrica coaching was in Uganda, and when he returned this year for the first time in x years, our coaches not only still remembered him, but presented him with gifts for his one year old twins. Tom started out with a simple idea for a footy fundraiser in 2008 – getting sponsored to play non-stop football for 12 hours with a few of mates. That idea became the football marathons still going strong today, and is our single biggest source of income. Tom is also a certified Football Marathon legend, having played in over 20 of the things across the UK, and raising thousands of pounds for our programmes in the process.
1. What is your favourite TackleAfrica Drill and why?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Protect the Coach as it was the first TA drill I ever delivered. It’s a simple football drill (pass the ball to the coach through a ring of defenders) which brilliantly describes a complex message about how the HIV virus hampers white blood cells from protecting the human body from opportunistic infections. More recently, I’m a big fan of a drill that coaches something very technical from a football perspective (about how a defensive line organises itself to prevent opposition passes reaching strikers) to get across a very simple but important message about FGM. I love the way our drills can make very difficult messages very easy to understand, and also that they can be enjoyed by and improve the skills of footballers at all levels.
2. Which message from the TackleAfrica manual do you think is the most important to your community (eg, condom use, removing stigma, support, healthy living etc).
TackleAfrica doesn’t deliver programmes in the UK but I think a lot of the messages around talking openly about sexual health and making informed careful decisions would be relevant to young people here.
3. Out of the countries that TackleAfrica works in, which would you like to visit the most?
Probably Zambia as it’s the country that we’ve been working in longest that I haven’t yet visited! I’ve always wanted to go to Botswana so hopefully we will start working there soon…
4. How would describe TackleAfrica in a sentence?
All the things you love about football, plus all the things you love about supporting people.
5. If you were a professional sportsperson, which sport would you choose and why?
These days I quite like the look of indoor sports, ideally that you play sitting down. Maybe seated darts, or chess – in fact that’s even better as you play sitting down. Are they sports? [This debate will run and run – Ed.]
6. You are leaving tomorrow, and you can only take one belonging, which one would it be?
7. If you could learn a new skill in a day what would it be?
The ability to get a great night’s sleep into half an hour. Oh and how to play football.
8. What is your favourite meal?
I don’t like to discriminate too much when it comes to food. Except against mushrooms – they’re inedible.
9. Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle, Man Utd, West Ham, Tottenham… Pick one!
So, this week we learned Tom would never leave without trousers, which is quite reassuring really, and that he thinks sitting down throwing arrows at a board might possibly be a sport. It isn’t.
If you would like to get involved with our work, visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved for details.