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West Ham's Bellamy delighted with Sierra Leone soccer project

West Ham United striker Craig Bellamy is funding a £650,000 soccer project in Sierra Leone.

Education and community projects will go hand-in-hand with the 14 new leagues and 68 youth teams that Bellamy is also setting up throughout the poor West African country, the player says.

"This trip is to show my face and to show how serious I am," he told reporters beside a beach after a kickabout with fans in the steamy capital Freetown on Sunday.

"It will be my second home. I have no doubt about it."

The academy will be set up on 25 acres of land in the fishing village of Tombo on the country's Atlantic coast while the new leagues will help to spot young potential.

"I want this done properly, to an international level. I don't want any young children, if they have talent, to be overlooked," said Bellamy, 28.

"It will make the national team stronger. There's talent everywhere."

England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand funds a soccer academy in Uganda and this month announced plans to set up another in Nigeria.

"I'm not looking to gain anything from this opportunity -- except every couple of years to change 250 children's lives," added Bellamy.

The Hammers star was mobbed everywhere he went, fans chanted his name and demanded autographs.

A car he was travelling in was so enthusiastically greeted by local supporters beating on the roof and bonnet that it got dented.

"I feel a little bit embarrassed with the attention I get here -- but why not make yourself useful?" he said.

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Tribal Football Staff

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