The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is supporting an employee’s efforts to raise money for a South African charity by staging a football match in the Island. 

Steve Allen, a Passenger Services Assistant on Ben My Chree, first visited the small South African town of Port St Johns while backpacking through Africa 10 years ago, and was inspired to help the community by setting up a football league.

‘Port St Johns is an area blighted by poverty and disease and consequently has a high infant mortality rate and many social problems,’ explained Steve. ‘Despite their misfortunes, on my travels I found that the people there are incredibly happy and positive. I set up the football league as a way to help and unite the community and am now sponsoring two teams.

‘When the league was established, I promised to keep them in shirts, develop the league and help to build a community centre for the remote Mthabane township, which we are looking to do within the next 12 months. The charity football match is to raise funds for this project.’

The charity match, between a ‘Steam Packet Select’ team and Isle of Man Everton Supporters’ Club, will take place at Ballafletcher Sports Field, alongside Noble’s Hospital, kicking off at 1.00pm on Sunday, October 21. All are welcome to attend.

After the match, food will be provided from 4.00pm at Sam Webb’s bar in Douglas, where there will also be a raffle and auction to top up the funds raised by the game.

Steve has a recognised NGO number in South Africa as part of the Amapondo Children’s Project and hopes that the football fundraiser will increase awareness of his mission.

He said: ‘Having football teams gives the community in and around Port St Johns an immense sense of hope and togetherness and, more practically, the football shirts that I provide are a great help to a community that doesn’t always have ready access to clothing.  Over the past 10 years I’ve distributed more than 300 Everton football shirts, and it would be a joy to be able to provide them with even more clothing and to begin building the community centre with the funds raised by this charity match. I must also add a word of thanks to the Isle of Man Everton Supporters’ Club who continue to give us great support.’

The Steam Packet is pleased to support the event by donating a travel voucher for a car and two people to the raffle/auction.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We are delighted to be able to contribute to Steve’s charity event, and look forward to what promises to be a very special and successful day.  We would like to encourage as many people as possible to attend the match and the raffle at Sam Webb’s bar, and to donate whatever they can to this very worthwhile cause.’

Charity Football Match

 Steam Packet Company employee Steve Allen pictured with one of the football teams he helped set up in the South African town of Port St Johns