Flicking through the channels for something half decent to watch (the good stuff being on later with a choice between Roger and Val Have Just Got In series 2 and a new series of 10 O Clock Live) and I randomly stumbled on Craig Bellamy’s African Dream. Intrigued by the randomness of finding a programme with Bellamy in it at all and the bizarre title we stuck with is for the hour and it turned out that it was OK.
The single-programme documentary trails Craig Bellamy as he heads out to Sierra Leone to visit the football school academy that he has set up there. Despite protestations to the contrary, there’s clearly at least a modicum of image clean-up about the whole thing, but the end result is a bit heart warming nonetheless.
There’s no drama about it, it’s not sensationalised in any way, it just tells the story simply and succinctly. It was informative about the country, it’s past and its present condition of resolve to avoid conflict at all costs, and it was sort of a genuine delight to watch.
Though Bellamy’s name is on the front cover and it’s his money that funds the school, the documentary did enough to focus on some of the other people involved in making the project work, including its English teacher who fights to add grammatical inclinations to the football focused kids’ lives, and the president of the Craig Bellamy Foundation who heads up the operation in Sierra Leone.
The Foundation was set up to help disadvantaged kids in Freetown, Sierra Leone, establishing a not-for-profit football academy for disadvantaged kids. With backing from UNICEF, the Craig Bellamy Foundation has also helped to set up a national league in the country, where the existing main league has been suspended due to a lack of funds.
Though the documentary isn’t necessarily scintillating viewing, it more than makes up for it with great production values, genuine sentiment from Bellamy and a brilliantly heart warming story. What do you know, ITV has managed to make something with a good chunk of quality and likability for once. Still available on the ITV Player, it’s definitely worth a watch.
Craig Bellamy’s African Dream review: 4/5