Robert Green is taking the first steps towards his charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro as he looks to raise money and awareness for the African Medical and Research Foundation.
Before attempting to scale the continent's highest peak, the West Ham United goalkeeper is in Africa for a visit to Kenya and Tanzania, where he will visit three areas in particular need of basic medical care and increased knowledge of health issues. As well as seeing Amref's programmes and workshops at first hand, he will look to bring people together by staging football tournaments.
"Africa's number one love is football and it seems a waste not to use it to try and spread the message," he said. "If we can affect a few lives then brilliant. It is pretty basic medical care that people are getting ... It is a massive charity and they are doing fantastic work. I am going to see first hand the work they do. The climax is the attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is going to be a tough challenge and one that I am looking forward to."
Before leaving England, Green staged a number of charity events including a goalkeeper's golf day and a special charity tournament at the Boleyn Ground which have already helped raise Amref's profile and secure much-needed funds. The Kilimanjaro climb will be a spectacular end to a memorable few months for the 28-year-old. "The last day is a 12-hour hike to go one mile which sounds strange but I think the main challenge is the altitude sickness. They say you feel pretty rough after each step ... One mile for me usually is about a whole season!"
Green has had support from his West Ham United team-mates, many of whom also do their own private charity work as well as support the club's two chosen good causes in the Richard House Children's Hospice and the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research. Like others he was particularly keen to give something back. "I wanted to use [the close season] to help people and affect some good. It is something that for myself living in a professional footballer's bubble you don't normally get to experience. I see a lot of hotels, coaches and airports and not a lot beyond that and this is something that can help me appreciate what I have got and what I can do to help people.
"I think what we do is a wonderful gift," he added. "You go out and play football. There is massive amounts of pressure but the guys at Amref and other charities are trying to save lives and that is real pressure." AMREF has more than 600 people working throughout the Africa, attempting to improve the lives of people in some of the harshest and poorest climates in the world. If you would like to sponsor Robert on his climb, you can find his page on www.justgiving.com/robertgreenkiliclimb.
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