St Albans football coach chops off dreadlocks for charity

A FOOTBALL crazy fundraiser from St Albans has shaved his 10-year-old dreadlocks off for his own charity.

Ian Stapleton, 35, who coaches the under 12s St Albans City Youth football team, went on holiday to West Africa last spring and founded Football Gambia upon his return, a charity which promotes education through football and encourages empowerment and self sufficiency in The Gambia.

As well as regularly sending over quality football equipment and supporting a Farming Academy which gets the players working on community land and cultivating crops, Ian also regularly sets himself fundraising missions and last week he took a trip to Extreme Cutz on Lattimore Road to get all his dreadlocks chopped off.

Ian, who is currently living in Enfield, said that he has raised �2,200 from the haircut, all of which will go towards paying for notepads, books and pencils for nurseries across the north bank, the least developed area of The Gambia. His long term goal is to implement a football coaching course similar to those he runs in the UK.

Ian, who runs the charity as a hobby and works full-time in IT, said: “I really enjoy running Football Gambia and dedicate almost all my free time to it. Last March was the first time I’ve been to Africa and I saw so many young talented football players. But it was disappointing to see that none of the clubs had bibs, proper boots and the rest to play a proper game of football.”

He added: “With the football experience I have, I knew that I could do something to help. Although I had become quite attached to my dreadlocks, losing them was such a small sacrifice to make, compared to the sacrifices people have to make in The Gambia every day. It’s a weird sensation to have no hair, but my friends tell me it’s taken at least five years off my age!”

You can help Ian reach his �3,000 fundraising target by donating online at, and to learn more about Football Gambia visit You can also watch a video of Ian’s haircut at