I’m a Rangers cult hero who played in Europa League Final and am paying for women's league in poverty-hit homeland

Big-hearted former Rangers star Fashion Sakala is investing money to launch a women’s league in Zambia.

The striker is now starring in the Saudi Pro League with Al-Fayha FC after leaving Ibrox last season. And the 27-year-old is being hailed a hero after providing funds in rural areas of the poverty-stricken southern nation in Africa. In a message posted on Facebook, Sakala announced that he was personally investing much-needed funds – around £10,000 out of his own pocket – to help launch the league and provide equipment.

In a bid to empower women through football, the league will be called the KAMBOMA Fashion Sakala Women’s Football League with around 20 teams taking part from his hometown of Kawele and surrounding villages. Each of the teams will be given essential training kit and home and away kits and four match balls with fixtures being broadcast weekly on radio for the eastern part of the country. Sakala said: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

Through the KAMBOMA Fashion Sakala Women’s Football League, Fashion Sakala is not only supporting women in football but also inspiring others to follow their dreams and never give up on their aspirations.

Sakala – who featured in the Europa League Final but was taken off before the penalty shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville – also recently donated 500 bags of food to people of his home village. He said: “A community that made me, Kawele Village is deeply impacted by the harsh realities of climate change.”

The frontman joined Rangers from Belgian side Oostende on a free transfer in the summer of 2021 when Steven Gerrard was manager and his journey to professional football was remarkable. He told how he didn’t even have a TV until he was 11-years-old when he watched his first football idol, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fashion Sakala celebrates scoring during a cinch Premiership match between Rangers and St Mirren
Fashion Sakala celebrates scoring during a cinch Premiership match between Rangers and St Mirren -Credit:SNS Group

Telling his remarkable story, he said: “I come from a Zambian village close to the border with Malawi. I'm from a very poor family, but I'm not ashamed of that. On the contrary, I am proud of it because my story shows how you can change a life. We had nothing at home, not even food. Very soon my family was counting on me to take care of it.

“I did that by hunting in the bush. I hunted impalas and rabbits with the help of dogs. At one point, we had 18 dogs at home. I went out into the bush with the dogs for six or seven hours a day, until we hunted, cornered and killed the animals.”