Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ACROSS AFRICA

Dozens killed in attack on military camp in Mali

Read more

THE DEBATE

Splintered left: French Socialists divided ahead of primary run-off (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Splintered left: Are Europe's Social Democrats obsolete? (part 2)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gambia: New president says Jammeh has agreed to cede power

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

France finally grants Senegalese vets citizenship

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Pollution threatens island paradise of Mauritius, and one Cameroonian expat's quest to bring safe drinking water to his country

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Publicis boss encourages firms to move staff to Paris post-Brexit

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Fake news has had almost no impact on Wikipedia'

Read more

FOCUS

Iraq: Embedded with French special forces in Mosul

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. And you can watch it online as early as 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

2017-01-19 Burundi

Burundi: Fear and Exile

When Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a controversial third mandate in April 2015, he sparked a major crisis and many demonstrations. Since...

Read more

2017-01-13 USA

Video: Meeting Trump voters in Wisconsin

On January 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as 45th president of the United States. With his promise of radical change in American politics, he won several states that until...

Read more

2017-01-05 Africa

Dadaab: Growing up in the world’s largest refugee camp

Located in eastern Kenya, near the Somali border, is Dadaab. This sprawling refugee camp is home to some 280,000 people, most of them from Somalia. Over the past 25 years, a...

Read more

2016-12-26 Middle East

Exclusive: Embedded with Iraqi special forces in Mosul

For more than two months, Iraqi forces have fought to retake Mosul from Islamic State group militants. A quarter of the city has been recaptured but the jihadists are still...

Read more

2016-12-23 migrants

Ferrette: The French village giving hope to migrants

It’s been almost a year since Ferrette, a tiny village in France’s Alsace region, transformed one of its old army barracks into a reception centre for refugees seeking asylum....

Read more