Antwerp resident runs marathon for Project Africa: “African children deserve quality sports infrastructure” (Antwerp)


The streets of Brussels will be the setting for the marathon through the capital on 2 October. While many participants pursue sporting ambitions, Antwerp resident Leendert Coene (25) runs with a different goal. He wants to raise money for Project Africa, a charity he founded with two friends. The trio builds sustainable football pitches in various African countries. The first chapters in that success story have already been written, but funding for future projects is needed.

“Six years ago I worked as a volunteer in Ghana for a few weeks. Among other things, I gave football training to young players. They wriggled with ease between the wrecked cars and, despite the terrible surface, were masters of the ball. When I saw that, I wanted to do something to take them to a higher level in terms of infrastructure”, Coene begins his story.

Volunteers Andreas and Max, respectively from Austria and Great Britain, thought the same. Little by little, the trio realized their common goal, which eventually resulted in Project Africa. “Our intent is clear: we want to build quality football pitches for young people across Africa. Over the past few years, we have been quite successful in doing this in Uganda and Kenya, where we joined forces with local NGOs.”

Leendert and Georges are getting ready for the marathon. — © Jan Van der Perre

“Everything starts with a thorough preparation process. Then we go to the country in question and the construction of the field begins, followed by the first maintenance. Local workers weld the target frame, we hang nets in the target, place the benches, provide stands. Afterwards, it is again up to the local organizations to monitor further development. We provide the facilities, after which they can perform their work even better,” says Coene.

Time for new projects

The three-person gathering aspires to set up new projects in the near future in Congo and Tanzania, among others. “But cooking costs money, so we are now making an effort to raise capital. I’ve decided to run a marathon and link it to a fundraising campaign. People are allowed to make a free contribution or can take one or three bets on my end time with a donation of 5 or 10 euros respectively. The winner will receive a voucher from Zalando worth 75 euros.”

“If I could get 1,000 euros in the drawer, that would already be a success. With that amount Max, Andreas and I can already get a lot done in one country. We hope to roll out our new projects in 2023. All African children deserve high-quality sports infrastructure, and we want to work hard for that.”

Sponsors can gamble on the time via this link via a private message to Leendert Coene.(lava)

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