Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Angry Moroccans demand an end to harassment

Read more

THE DEBATE

The battle over posted workers: Macron on tour to convince EU leaders

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: BPM, The Beguiled, Jerry Lewis

Read more

FOCUS

Rap activist weighs in on Angolan election

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A US summer camp brings two sides together

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'France has its own ghosts'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Stop the impunity of harassment in Morocco'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Hit hard by falling oil prices, Angola looks to diversify economy

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Africa's resources: Re-examining the management of oil and gas

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2010-01-15

Senegal: the football academy

Who is the next Didier Drogba, or Samuel Eto’o? And where is he playing right now? Perhaps at Senegal’s elite football academy: Diambars, one of the best in Africa. For years, boarders practice every day. In the end, only a handful of them will sign with a professional club in Europe.

I have often heard it said that in Africa, football is a religion. But it’s not until I went to Senegal that I realised it’s actually true. Every young Senegalese I met between the ages of 10 and 20 wants to become a professional player in a European club. I told them it was near impossible, that very few aspiring players actually make the cut and that they would be better off focusing on their studies, but they didn’t care. Many seemed to genuinely believe that with a little luck, their talent would be noticed and they would be fast-tracked to Manchester United or Real Madrid.

 
Some, I found out, have more luck than others.
 
It’s 6:30 am, some 70 km southeast of the capital, Dakar: Diambars football academy is coming to life. Students are just waking up to the competing sounds of the school bell and very, very loud crickets outside. In ten minutes they will be on the football pitch, ready for practice.
 
Diambars is one of Africa’s most professional training centres, and possibly one of the richest. New buildings line the school grounds, the pitch is the best in the country, and tuition is entirely free. As a bonus, French football star Patrick Vieira, who co-founded the school, saw to it that every student would be clothed from head to toe in professional football gear.
 
Walking towards the pitch, twenty-year old old Souleymane Cissé can’t help but think about the admonition from his coach: stay 100% focused during the game. He’s one of the best midfielders of his age group in Senegal, but he has to improve if he wants to play alongside his friends. Three of them have already been signed by Lille, a successful French football club.
 
From the sandy streets of Dakar to the green pitch of Diambars, this edition of Reporters tells the story of a dream: play football with the pros.

By Jérôme BONNARD , Cyril VANIER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-07-28 Middle East

Video: The plight of Cairo's street children

In Egypt, tens of thousands of children wander the streets of the capital, Cairo. They survive as best they can amid desperate poverty and violence. Some NGOs, such as France's...

Read more

2017-07-21 Asia-pacific

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Last year, more than 300 people were kidnapped in Afghanistan. Although abductions of foreigners by the Taliban tend to make the headlines, more than 90% of the victims are in...

Read more

2017-07-14 Asia-pacific

China dreams of superpower status on the football pitch

China has been redrawing the world's football map in recent months. Thanks to virtually unlimited funds, players and coaches from some of the best European clubs are flocking to...

Read more

2017-07-13 Middle East

Exclusive: Storming Raqqa, IS group's cursed capital in Syria

The city of Raqqa in northern Syria has been held by the Islamic State group since early 2014. But the terror group's Syrian headquarters is on the verge of liberation. Snipers...

Read more

2017-07-07 European Union

Poland’s love-hate relationship with the EU

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, is a maverick. On civil rights, justice and the environment, Poland is increasingly breaking away from EU...

Read more