Mark Holmes Football Academy receives donation of van decorated in Ghanaian colours
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A football academy that splits resources between Inverness and an African nation has been gifted a brand-new van by a local firm.
The Mark Holmes Football Academy’s new vehicle will be easily visible in and around the city having been decorated in the distinctive red, gold and green of Ghana.
The former Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Clachnacuddin midfielder’s charitable exploits have made him a hero in the Ashanti region of the West African republic.
There, Holmes’ two academy camps offer coaching to more than 400 children and life-changing refuge to 80 more in a residential complex.
Funds raised locally by football skills classes for hundreds of Highland and Moray youngsters are ploughed back into helping the less-privileged in Ghana through the academy’s efforts.
In recognition of the work he has put in, the Inverness branch of AM Phillip Trucktech stepped in to present Holmes with a new, appropriately designed, mini-van.
“I’ve known David Macrae, the sales manager, since he was just a young kid.
“I put an advert out on Facebook asking for help and we got a really good response.
“AM Phillip offered either cash sponsorship or the van, which was a tremendous gesture.
“It is a huge help for me in transporting equipment about the local area for the various sessions in different locations.”
Holmes says he would welcome further offers of assistance as he continues to build up the academy both – at home in the Highlands and abroad.
Last year, the retired player tapped into his connections to collect old kits from former club Caley Thistle to donate to his efforts in Africa, which Holmes initially set up in the summer of 2017.
Former Ross County, Aberdeen and Scotland defender Brian Irvine is the latest name to join forces with Holmes, having recently joined his expanding coaching team.
In Ghana, the youngsters in residential care get life-changing help in the form of a roof over their heads, three meals a day, schooling and the chance to develop their sporting talents.
Just before the pandemic struck, they were set to go on an international trip to take on Bulgarian and Romanian opposition with the chance to catch the eye of big European clubs.