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Gazza and The FA pay SOS Children a visit

Gazza, Ray and the SOS Children (Mark Hooper, The FA)
Gazza, Ray and the SOS Children (Mark Hooper, The FA)

Former England internationals Paul Gascoigne and Ray Clemence last week visited Botswana as part of The FA's international outreach work and found time to visit the SOS Children's Village in Tlokweng.

Gazza, the former Spurs and Newcastle midfielder, and Ray, the Liverpool goalkeeping hero and current 'keeper coach to the England team, were warmly welcomed to the country's first SOS Children's Village, situated on the outskirts of the capital Gaborone.

The guests were shown the around the village and family houses before taking part in a game of football - girls v. boys. Gascoigne joined in with the village girls, who despite a spirited performance were outplayed by the boys. "It was great to have a game. Some of the kids were excellent, they were so fast, quicker than leopards and playing in their bare feet - they were unbelievable," said Gazza.

The FA has supported SOS Children's work for a number of years, and this year cemented the relationship by making the organisation its international charity partner and by joining the "6 villages for 2006" World Cup campaign.

Gazza and child at SOS Children's Village Tlokweng (Mark Hooper, The FA)

The footballers were impressed both by the village and the work done by the charity: "It was heart-warming really. Some of the stories we’ve heard about the children being abandoned or orphaned are quite sad... It was amazing to see them all happy and cheerful, there didn’t seem to be one sad face which was incredible. It put a different perspective on things in my mind, but you can see all the good work and what they are trying to achieve here."

The village’s Marimba band also performed for the guests as a thank you to the FA delegation, not least for the generous donation of football kits, which will be put to very good use.

The FA's visit to Botswana continued on Wednesday, when the delegation visited an HIV/AIDS treatment centre at Gaborone Hospital as well as organising a training session for other local children at the National Stadium.