Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Massive trade bill clears key hurdle in US Senate

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why should the U.S. fight for the Iraqis?'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

"Inequality takes hold"

Read more

DEBATE

Will Ireland Say "I Do"? Gay Marriage Referendum Challenges Catholic Values (part 1)

Read more

DEBATE

Will Ireland Say "I Do"? Gay Marriage Referendum Challenges Catholic Values (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Mother of French terror victim seeks to open minds

Read more

ENCORE!

Aishwarya Rai: An interview with the Queen of Bollywood

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Ireland on the eve of gay marriage vote

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Tensions continue to rise in Bujumbura

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

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

2015-05-14 Jacques Chirac

Are there lessons to be learned from Chirac’s foreign policy?

20 years after Jacques Chirac was voted into power, how should we view the foreign policy of a president who famously said "non" to the US war on terror?

Read more

2015-05-08 Colombia

Colombia’s toxic war on drugs

Colombia is one of the world’s largest cocaine-producing countries. To fight coca production and weaken the FARC guerrilla, whose main source of revenue is narcotics trafficking,...

Read more

2015-04-30 Syria

Syria: On the trail of looted antiquities

As the war in Syria enters its fifth year, the trafficking of looted antiquities is adding a new dimension to the tragic conflict. Many Syrian artefacts are smuggled across the...

Read more

2015-04-24 World War I

Saving French soldiers' WWI trench carvings

In 1914, a former underground quarry in Picardy in northern France is requisitioned by the French army. For almost four years, hundreds of soldiers were stationed there. Many...

Read more

2015-04-17 Armenia

Turkey’s hidden Armenians search for stolen identity

In 1915, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire ordered the extermination of the Armenian people. One and a half million were killed in the first genocide of the 20th century....

Read more