By Jennifer Long
A WATERFORD-born former Irish international soccer player is to lead a team of six cyclists across the rugged Tibetan plateau next month in a bid to raise vital money for child nutrition in Tibet.
Martin Dunphy, who is now managing director of a company called Marlin Capital Europe based in London, faces a daunting 15-day 800-kilometer journey on July 30 - and is appealing to the Waterford public to support his efforts.
Still a regular visitor to the city, Martin was part of the first Irish soccer team (schoolboys) to win an international competition, the European Championship, back in 1982.
However, on July 30 it’s a very different physical challenge that he faces, taking on a route blocked by no fewer than seven passes over 13,000 feet above sea level and crossing desolate treeless landscape inhabited only by mountain yak and a few nomadic herdsmen.
The aim of the team is to raise money to provide five greenhouses for a minimum of five primary schools in Western Sichuan which cater for at least 800 children.
The climate of Tibet is far too cold to grow most vegetables in the open air but with the greenhouses, which will last at least 10 years, a generation of Tibetan children will be able to eat far more nutritious food than the barley and butter-tea to which they’re accustomed.
“It is a huge challenge but it’s one that I’m looking forward to,” said Martin, who lived for many years in Pole-berry (he played soccer with Bohs) and now divides his time between London and Waterford.
“It’s a fantastic cause and I’m really hoping the people of Waterford will donate what they can to support me. The project is called ‘Ride For Green’ and is being headed up by the Kham Aid Foundation who have been running health and education programs in Tibet since 1997. They will construct and manage the greenhouses which during their 10-year lifeterm will provide food throughout the school year to at least 2,000 young students at a total cost of only $4.40 per child per year.” Martin, who is a self-confessed adventure lover, has previously cycled Tibet.
A keen all-round sportsman, he was educated at De La Salle College with whom he played an All-Ireland final in Gaelic football.
Most notably, however, he - along with other local boys Anthony Kelly and Brian Foley - was a a member of the first international soccer team to win an international competition, notably the European Championship in France in 1982.
Later, Martin received an athletics scholarship to the US where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing at George Mason University in Virginia.
In addition to being one of the founders of Marlin Capital Europe, the dad-of-three (he’s married to Teri) is a founding partner of Marlin Financial Services based in the UK. He has also published several articles on the UK credit market and is a regular speaker at credit conferences in the UK and Europe.
Marlin Capital Holdings, has already pledged $20,000 towards the ‘Ride For Green’ project and fundraising efforts are still ongoing to raise the maximum amount for this worthy cause.
Any Waterford person interested in donating can email firstname.lastname@example.org or pay directly at http://www.khamaid.org/a bout_us.donate.htm