Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Saudi Arabia under pressure: Crown Prince defiant over Khashoggi disappearance

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Biking in Cuba, entrepreneurship in Burundi, and more

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: NOLA French Connection Brass Band, Yoko Ono & Neneh Cherry

Read more

FOCUS

US Supreme Court decision boosts anti-abortion activists in California

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Beginning of the end for 'Mutti'? State election reflects Merkel's unpopularity

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Spain's Europe minister rules out new Catalan independence referendum

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Hungary's Orban: What consequences of symbolic EU vote?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

South Sudan: How it won the longest war but lost the peace

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

2018-10-12 Reporters

Reporters: No way home for the Rohingya

Since August 2017, nearly a million Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal crackdown by the Burmese army. Today, they live in the world’s largest refugee camp in neighbouring...

Read more

2018-10-05 Reporters

Reporters: Living in fear of the militias in Rio

In Rio de Janeiro, dozens of neighbourhoods and favelas are under the control of militias. All of them use terror to control locals and businesses, and resisting them can be...

Read more

2018-02-09 Reporters

Reporters: The ‘missing’ that China keeps silent

Chinese authorities go to great lengths to control society, with forced disappearances becoming the norm. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political opponents...

Read more

2018-09-28 Reporters

Reporters: Kailash Satyarthi is on a mission to end child slavery in India

A child disappears every eight minutes in India. In the capital New Delhi, six out of 10 children who go missing are never found. They are called the "lost generation": More than...

Read more

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