Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Ethiopia violence: 1200 detained after Addis Ababa clashes

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Macron's former bodyguard's gun selfie

Read more

THE DEBATE

Which world order? Trump, Macron spell out rival visions at U.N.

Read more

ENCORE!

Debra Granik: 'There aren't many women who love making films about blood and gore'

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Medical breakthrough? Researchers find way to tackle Alzheimer's

Read more

FOCUS

Jihadists, but no terror attacks: The case of Italy

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A controversial pastor in Haiti, pollution in Casablanca, and more

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Photojournalist Reza: 'Children are now the best photographers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Instagram founders quit photo app

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 Cyril VANIER , Jérôme BONNARD

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-09-21 Reporters

Colombia: Cursed by coca in Catatumbo

While the United Nations on Wednesday announced that Colombia remains the world’s largest cocaine producer, our reporters visited the northeastern region of Catatumbo - one of...

Read more

2018-09-14 Reporters

Nigeria: the fight against Boko Haram

As Nigeria’s army continues its offensive against Boko Haram extremists, our reporters Catherine Norris-Trent and Jonathan Walsh travelled to the northeast of the country, still...

Read more

2018-09-07 Reporters

Video: The North Korean gamble

As North Korea celebrates its 70th anniversary, FRANCE 24 brings you a unique report from inside the world’s most secretive nation. In an extremely rare move, the authorities in...

Read more

2018-08-31 Reporters

Forced disappearances in Mexico's drug war

Since 2006, when the Mexican military began to intervene in the country's war on drug trafficking, tens of thousands of people have gone missing. Have they been killed, sold to...

Read more

2018-08-03 Reporters

Video: Super Mama Djombo, Guinea-Bissau’s soundtrack

Today, if the small West African state of Guinea Bissau is famous—or, perhaps more correctly, infamous—for anything, it’s for frequent coups d’état. But that hasn’t always been...

Read more