Ghana and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, on Saturday bagged GHC 131,500 for the establishment of a Foundation aimed at improving the lifestyle of the people of his home town, Awutu Breku in the Central Region under a five year development plan.
The project dubbed "The Michael Essien Foundation" is to offer the under privileged in Awutu Breku, with access to basic amenities such as health care, libraries, public toilets and portable water, was launched at the Banquet Hall, State House, Accra with huge attendance by major football stakeholders.
It will also provide a scheme for farmers to raise their productivity, sports day, a recreational centre and an annual training for women in accounting and occupational skills among others in honour of Essien's mother.
The money was realised from auction sales of autographed jerseys of Michael Essien, which was used in the finals of the Community Shield match between Chelsea and Manchester United, gloves of Chelsea goalkeeper Petre Cech used in a Champions League qualifier between Chelsea and Athletico Madrid as well as Frank Lampard's jersey of a World Cup qualifier between England and Belarus.
It also included the sale of autographed boots of Didier Drogba and John Terry in a Champions League game between Chelsea and Juventus and England and Ukraine World Cup qualifier respectively.
The sale of the items fetched a total of GHC 83,000 and a donation of 20,000 pounds sterling (approximately GHC48,244) from MTN Ghana Limited as part of their contribution towards the success of the Foundation.
MTN will in addition make similar contribution each year to support the five year plan.
George Oppong Weah, former AC Milan star and captain of the Liberian National team, who launched the Foundation, described the project as timely and strategic as it is happening at a time Ghana was witnessing a lot of positive things.
"Having led Ghana to qualify for the World Cup and scoring some important goals, I believe the Foundation is the most important goal to be scored by Essien as it will give assistance to a deprived community and mentor young ones to stardom".
Weah said many African stars have a similar story of survival as they have to play barefooted from obscure and dangerous places before having a breakthrough in life.
The former international star, however, noted that even though many African footballers have similar background, they are yet to understand the enormity and responsibility that their status place on them.
Weah said the game of football has over the years gone under drastic changes with improved television coverage and marketing, adding that today's footballer has a better coverage and exposure, hence the need to give something back to society.
Rashid Pelpuo, Minister of Youth and Sports commended Essien for the initiating the project and assured him of government's support for its smooth implementation.
He said the decision of Essien to establish the Foundation is a way of giving meaning to life.
Essien pledged to sustain the project even after the fifth year and called on all stakeholders to support him in the execution of the plan, which he said will put smiles on the faces of people in the Awutu Breku area.
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