Volunteering: Jean Verdon, our new volunteer journalist ready to help our charity!

Jean Verdon joined us in early Spring as a volunteer journalist. You have probably already spotted his well-written posts on our blog and discovered his passion for rugby. He introduces himself:    

I am a sport journalism student at the London College of Communication. I reached a social and economical Baccalaureate in Paris. Afterwards, I studied abroad in Dublin. I improved my language skills by attending English courses, as well as several journalism lectures.

I’ve always been a huge fan of sports. I played rugby from 2012 to 2016 and I had the chance to understand and analyse the values of rugby: team spirit, engagement and solidarity.

Early 2017, while working as a waiter in London, I met Serge Betsen. We had a few words about the Serge Betsen Academy and that a collaboration could be possible. He gave me his business card. After exchanging several mails with Jenna, I’m delighted to announce that I will volunteer for the SBA. Field reporting, interviews, translations, video editing and event coverage, I’ll try my best to help this wonderful association.”

Interview : Dimitri Yachvili shares his thoughts about SBA

With 61 caps and more than 370 points with les Bleus, a lot of people describe him as one of the best scrum-half of all time. Dimitri Yachvili started with the PUC, then flew to England, in Gloucester and finally joined France and Biarritz Olympique in 2002. He won two Grand Slams in 2004 and 2010 with the international French team and played a World Cup final in 2011 against Ritchie McCaw’s All Blacks. The “Yach” is known for being a bit quiet, but when we mentioned Serge Betsen, he came alive and confided in us.


  • Hello Dimitri. In which circumstances have you met Serge?

It was in Biarritz in 2002, when I joined Biarritz Olympique. It’s always impressive to meet a legend. I was young, I was barely 22 years old and he’d just been voted best player of the French championship.

  • Who was he for real outside a rugby field?

This is going to be complicated to dissociate him from rugby because as a human being he was someone extremely kind who has a big heart, can be fun and helpful. He’s always been close to young people. When I arrived I was 21 years old and Serge was 5 or 6 years older than me and he was already in the middle of his career. He has always been close to young people in terms of transfer of knowledge. He has always done his best to enable young people to feel well and to progress. He welcomed me well and a few months later we were roommates, and it lasted years. All of this inevitably creates links.

  • He created in 2004 the SBA. Does this remind you something? What does this evoke?

Of course! It’s his way to return to his roots. It’s his way to give back to his native people everything he did during his career in France. He’s always had a humanitarian side. Helping others and the weakest has always been a priority. It’s not a big surprise if he created this association in 2004.

  • When you hear that young Cameroonians struggle and use rugby to mature and escape from their daily life, what do you want to tell them, as a former rugby man and as a human being?

Really often rugby allows to get through complicated and hard situations. It’s also a way to become a more social person in life. The group cohesion that is created during trainings and games allows this. And I don’t talk about the confidence in themselves that these kids manage to get, and all of this with joy and pleasure! Because sport and rugby before everything must stay a pleasure.

  • If you had to give a piece of advice to these young Cameroonians, what would it be?

Take pleasure to find themselves. I don’t particularly have lessons to give to these young people but the pleasure to find on an outside the pitch.

  • The final word?

Long life to the Serge Betsen Academy and bravo again for everything you realize for these young people and sport in general.

Collected by Jean Verdon


Event: Dinner at “La Clef des Champs“ Restaurant

« Everyone here is so approachable, it really represents the spirit of rugby » observed a fan who attended to support the association. The event took place in the presence of many French rugby icons including Bakary Méité, Alain Gazon and Serge Betsen accompanied by his troupe that helped organised the dinner at La Clef des Champs restaurant in Paray-Vieille-Poste to honour the Serge Betsen Academy.20180405_180937_resized

The flags of the Stade Français, Wasps and Massy Essonne Rugby Clubs were proudly on display, so it was impossible to misapprehend the context of the evening. A warm welcome was given by Yves and his team, around 50 people gathered for this memorable dinner in honour of the association working together since 2004.

“There is a lot of generosity in this association which corresponds perfectly with my sport: rugby. Thank you all for being here tonight.” declared Serge.


After a presentation of educational videos, Serge and his team answered questions posed by the audience. This provided a clear opportunity to observe the passion and enthusiasm that this association generates.

Tables were brightly decorated with the colors of the association which, together with the festive menus contributed to the warm atmosphere; a perfect match with the spirit of the Serge Betsen Academy. The guests stamped their mark on the meeting with conviviality, enthusiasm and solidarity.


“It is crazy how rugby can make you want to succeed” a woman whispered in her husband’s ear.

A highlight of the evening was the auctioning of champions’ jerseys including Mathieu Bastareaud from the 2010 Six Nations Tournament and another from Massy which was followed by further surprises to bid for.



“Are there any supporters of Stade Français here in the hall this evening?” Lionel asked.

A few smiles broke out and five or six hands went up. The auction was fun, successful and really well conducted.

“I know that all this money will be used for direct and positive actions for this association, so it is with great pleasure that I have participated” declared a benefactor.


This charity dinner has evoked the true spirit of rugby and raised more than four thousand euros. Success will now follow very quickly as a result.

“I want to thank everyone for coming tonight and especially Yves and all his team to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for making this event possible” Serge Betsen.

La Clef des Champs


This text was written by our volunteer Jean Verdon who has also created a video! (Thanks also to Raphael Nash for the translation into English.)






Cameroon : Laurent’s arrival

You may have noticed Laurent in a few of our photos. A close friend to Odile’s from Washingon DC, Laurent moved to Cameroon for professional reasons in 2017. He is a huge fan of rugby so he was eager to assist the SBA on site.

He gave rugby tips to Abaa, one of our coach. Wishing to get more involved he assisted Elisabeth on all sort of projects.  He has become our SBA Cameroon Treasurer and will be our main contact with local sponsors.

Here are some words from Laurent on his motivation to help the SBA.

“For a long time sport was the best expression of sport – solidarity, social diversity, complementarity and surpassing oneself – it is a collective combat sport that lends itself to all these values and adds to all elements that make up a team with their differences A fashionable competition of individualism, which is contrary to the nature and spirit of rugby and the SBA, that’s why I found within the SBA a desire for sharing, equity and the SBA allows me to be able to exercise in the medical and sports with the sole objective of the development of children and their being a chance, in a country where it is not easy to be a child. “

Here is a summary of his career:
Second division rugby player in Auxerre since he was 5 years old.
At the age of 22, he obtains the first-level national Rugby instructor’s certificate and becomes educator in the rugby club of Auxerre.
He has been responsible of the departmental rugby of Yonne and Bourgogne from 1988 to 1998, responsible for the training of  1st and 2nd degree federal educators of Bourgogne before taking charge of the supervision of the departmental teams of the Yonne and  of the minimal, feminine and junior teams of Bourgogne.
He also participated in the preparation for the 1st Women’s Cup in Cardiff in 1991.
In 1998, he came to Paris where he was a player then the coach at the ACBB. He became in 1999  manager of the ACBB till 2001.
In 2001, he went to Corsica, where he will make a season in Bastia in 2nd division, then 2 seasons in Ajaccio as a coach and player between 2002 and 2004.
From 2003 to 2005 he became educator of the rugby school, then created a rugby club focused on the discovery of rugby and more specifically Beach rugby. He was also a federal referee in Corsica and in PACA.
In 2014 he takes care of the rugby initiation in a children’s school in Washington.

All this after attending Rank Xerox Business School, and graduating as a Resuscitation Nurse.

Thank you Laurent!

Cameroon : A successful first personal hygiene campaign!

In November 2017, we launch our first personal hygiene campaign. The objective was to teach good practices and to reinforce, in the minds of children and adults, the necessity to wash their body and teeth every day, but also the importance to wash their hands regularly with soap and by adopting the right technique.

Hand washing is a very simple but fundamental gesture to eliminate bacteria. It’s a reflex to have that can save lives. In fact, 80% of common infectious diseases, such as cold or flu, are transmitted by the hands. And 20 seconds is the optimal duration of an effective hand washing.

The Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé offered us soaps for our personal hygiene campaign and we are very grateful to them. This is the second time in a year that the Hilton Hotel gives us soaps which are very useful to the mothers of the children of our centers.

In addition to soaps, we received a donation of toothpastes and toothbrushes by Dr. Roshan from Georgetown Dentistry in Washington DC. They were offered to the children of the Jardin d’Eden Center.

Thank you to our generous donors for making this hygiene campaign possible!

Event : Dubaï 7’s, SBA Pirates

Our brave SBA Pirates reached the final at the Dubai 7’s veteran tournament. Two iconic ex-rugby players were featured on the SBA team along with Serge: Yann Delaigue and Francis Ntamack. Despite a tough match against our English friends: Iain Balshaw, Simon Shaw and Olly Barkley, we are proud of our Pirates who wore the colours of our association!

Thanks to the support of their sponsors, 850€ were donated to the SBA. A huge thank you to the Pirates and their sponsors for their engagement and motivation. Bravo and thank you!

Cyril Mattera, one of our Pirates who represented the association, confessed: “Lots of emotions still 72 hours later and already the desire to restart this tournament! A 2017 tournament for the books! Meeting these extraordinary men who have such incredible values! Thank you to all the people who helped our team. Thank you to all the players! Long live rugby! MATOS”


Translation by Jean Verdon

Partnership : Recycled rugby balls project with Serge Blanco and Rugby Corner

In 2017, Serge Blanco, who wanted to support the association, donated 73 new Rugby World Cup and Cocotte rugby balls. This donation was used to create a new collection of pencil cases, wallets, and bags. This project’s success keeps growing and is surpassing our expectations and those of Lionel who is still involved 200% with the SBA!

In 2017 over 1,200 rugby balls were recycled thanks to your donations! You: the rugby clubs, the “Kenos” contacts, and the persons willing to transport and send balls from the 4 corners of France.  Thanks to your support and donations this project has given the association 11,000€, which is being used to finance our rugby coaches as well as the insurance coverage for our players.


In addition, the Ile de France committee has associated itself with the rugby section of Diderot’s high school in Massy to support our association. Therefore, we can predict more and more visibility of the recycled rugby balls project thanks to our partnership with Rugby Corner  : https://rugby-corner.com/fr/96_sba-serge-betsen-academy where you can buy them online. Loads of pencil cases, wallets, and travel bags are on their way!

Translation by Jean Verdon

Cameroon : Vaccination campaigns

In addition to the medical visits for all our rugby players, insured thanks to the SBA (51 today), we noticed several players were not vaccinated against tetanus. We have decided to set up a tetanus vaccination campaign with the help of two doctors, Elisabeth our president and a friend of her.

The first vaccine injections took place in June. As required for the tetanus vaccination, the second injection has been done in September for the 12 attending players. Another session will be organised soon for the absentees.

A nice operation in a lovely place !

Event : Ealing Half Marathon, UK, Sept. 2017

On the 23rd of  September, SBA team SBA ran the Ealing Half Marathon.

Two years ago they raised nearly £4,000 for the charity and it made a life changing improvment for many children in Cameroun.

This year, a new team has decided to take up the challenge again and beat the record. They fixed their fundraising target at £5,000 (6,578$).

They trained as hard as professionnal runners…. Have a look here!

The dream team: Bertie Kloetgen; Laurent Leslé; Sebastien Gerinet; Philipe Allard; Emmanuel Pringalle; Arnaud Leclerc; Roger Nash; Gareth Down; Édouard Sénéchal; Olivier Morato has won its challenge.

They are all finishers and they managed to collect around £9,000 (11,840$) !

A big thank you to them, the new heroas of the SBA!

Cameroon: Back to school with DHL and Panafrica

The children are back in school and in our SBA centres.

Thanks to our partners, DHL and Panafrica, we have received generous donations that are helping our children with education and rugby supplies.

This year, our partner Panafrica renew its confidence and will help us to support the education pole of the SBA (educational material, teacher expenses, complement of school supplies …).

DHL kindly offered for the first year a bunch of school supplies, medicinal products and materials for our Rugbymen.

A huge thanks for their support, in a long term perspective.

 Au travail Repas SAM_2615 IMG_20170908_183331 IMG_20170908_182348 IMG-20170831-WA0058IMG-20170831-WA0049  IMG-20170831-WA0043 IMG-20170831-WA0039