After touching down on the tarmac in Tanzania, a host of Everton first-team stars journeyed across Dar-es-Salaam with representatives from the Club's Main Partner, gaming giant SportPesa, to find out more about the East African country, its cultures and some of its community outreach work.
Blues quartet Leighton Baines, Yannick Bolasie, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Ademola Lookman visited Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School to find out more about how UK aid is ensuring deaf and blind students receive the same level of education as their classmates. The players saw first-hand how teacher training and specialist equipment, provided by UK aid and delivered by British charity Sense International, is being used to increase the learning opportunities available to deaf and blind students.
To gain a better understanding of what life is like for the estimate 18,400 deafblind children in Tanzania, the Everton stars were blindfolded themselves and wore ear plugs before having to try and locate objects in a padded room. They then took part in a competitive game of Goalball, a version of football designed specifically for blind individuals – which involves using a ball with a bell inside it.
Speaking after the visit, fans favourite Baines said: “All of us at Everton think school is really important and it's fantastic to see UK aid helping these kids in Tanzania to get a better education.
“Every child should have the opportunity to learn and hope for a better future, and whether it's football or goalball, sport is a great way to learn the vital life skill of working together as a team.”
Between 2013-2020, the Department for International Development is investing £140million in education in Tanzania, with a specific focus on improving the quality of education for girls and children with disabilities. As a direct result of these efforts, more than half a million Tanzanian children are expected to receive an education.
Meanwhile, back at the team hotel, two teams of Everton stars squared off against each other in a cooking challenge as they attempted to recreate two local dishes whilst understanding more about Tanzania's culinary delights.
Phil Jagielka and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were pitted against Davy Klaassen and Matty Pennington in a contest that tested their cookery skills. Jags and Dom prepared white snapper with ugali, a maize porridge, while Davy and Matty were asked to cook ndizi-nyama – plantain with meat.
Assisted by Niko, the head chef of the Sea Cliff Hotel, the two teams both created delicious dishes that were then sampled by Blues ambassador Graham Stuart who crowned Jags and Dom as winners.
On the other side of the bustling city of Dar-es-Salaam, new signing Michael Keane accompanied Mo Besic and Tom Davies to Uhuru Stadium to meet the coaches and players from a unique Tanzanian football team, Albino United FC and take part in a training session as well as finding out more about how Everton's Main Partner SportPesa work in Tanzania to support the albino community. In recent years, albinos have been murdered in Tanzania, some as young as six months old, while others have been attacked with machetes and their limbs cut off while alive.
Albino United FC was launched to show the world that albinos are like everyone else and they wanted to spread the message by example. Football not only offers exposure for albinos but is a rare tool to undermine the limitations imposed upon them as they travel into the heart of the areas with the highest numbers of albino killings.
During the activity, the Blues trio got involved in some passing drills and a small football session, found out more about the team's successes and the players individual backgrounds before presenting them with the new 2017/18 Everton away shirt, unveiled earlier this week.
New signing Michael Keane said: “From spending time with the Albino United team today, I have learnt that the players go through some tough times. It's not easy for them over here. It's good that they can enjoy football and look forward to playing together. You can see their coach is really good with them.
“I told them all to keep enjoying their football - that's advice you say to any football player, especially those who are younger.
Ronald Koeman's Everton side will become the first Premier League team to play in Tanzania when they take on SportPesa Super Cup champions Gor Mahia at the 60,000 capacity Tanzania National Main Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam on Thursday 13 July, 5pm kick-off local time (3pm kick-off BST).