This is blog 6 of a short series that has been written to give readers some of the context behind the reason that the Kicking Off charity has been started and why the town of Mpraeso and surrounding area in Ghana has been chosen for the first Kicking Off project. As the Kicking Off team builds up to the first ‘pilot’ tournament in March, we will publish regular blogs to add some personal insights into how and why each member has become involved in starting the charity.

With only 10 weeks till leaving date we lost the lovely Doctor Elaine from the trip and what had been shaping up to be a smooth operation had received a massive set back.

As the slowly enveloping feeling of panic threatened to engulf me I did the thing I do at any moment of such importance and called my mum. My mum has an excellent way of laying out a problem and suggesting a multitude of different options that solve that problem, the problem then gets bounced back to me to pick what to do, which is unfortunately always the option a sensible person wouldn’t choose!

Mum and myself formed a list of all the people I knew that would potentially be interested, available, suitable, and excited for the role and gradually over the course of a phone call we established a top candidate - Rooney.

I made the call completely out of the blue the next day and unbelievably Rooney both really wanted and was able to accept the offer of coming on the trip with us.

Sophie Rooney – Sophie is about the toughest person I know and has only recently returned from running across Scandinavia with nothing more than a backpack and a good attitude. Not having anyone with equivalent doctoring experience to Doctor Elaine saw me come up with an alternative selection criteria. Sophie will be able to spend her week using her quick ingratiation skills to forge connections with local hospitals to secure several nurses that can come down and do the medical work on tournament day. She’ll do a blog before the event to tell you a little more about herself!

I alluded in my last blog to a ‘fear of failure,’ whilst that is not what is driving me on this venture, I want to succeed and at this point have very little to lose. The feeling of not being able to be as effective as possible in March was absolutely horrible and as soon as Sophie was on board I was filled with a sense of relief and happiness that we could still do what we’d initially intended.

With the issue of our 5th team member resolved I threw my focus back towards setting up some structure behind the charity. Several close family members and interested others have continually expressed their desire to be involved in what I’m trying to do and it had taken me far too long to harness their enthusiasm and use their skills to my advantage. I set up the role of ‘Voluntary Outreach and Brand Awareness Manager’ for them to take on which basically involves them using any means necessary to raise the profile of the charity and secure donations towards goodie bag items and eventually monetary donations.

Alongside these new roles, I had also started working with my godfather to create a comprehensive business plan that when ready would stand us in good stead for approaching corporate businesses. I had also spoken with Ellis who had nearly completed the charity application form which, when submitted and processed would make all of our contact with external people/ organisations slightly easier.

With 4 weeks to go until the team left for Ghana, everything was falling back into place. Sophie was on board, the goodie bags were coming together and we were becoming more and more like a structured and proper new charity.

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