Donation: The SBA Mali thanks Fairford RFC for its support

The children and staff at the Serge Betsen Academy Mali (SBA Mali) were very pleased to receive a generous donation from Fairford RFC. The donation consisted of many matching shirts, which have helped the children look and feel like a team as well as some much needed boots and shorts. There was also a substantial amount of rugby equipment such as balls, cones and bibs which the charity has quickly put to use to enhance the training they are able to deliver to the children. A number of adult shirts have also been donated to the Bamako Hippos XV team.

Fairford RFC is a small community focused rugby club based in Gloucestershire, England who have men’s, women’s and junior sections. They discovered the SBA when one of their players who is currently working in Mali reported back on the great work that the SBA was doing for young children, particularly girls, in Bamako. The club was instantly eager to help and organised an impressive collection and within 2 weeks had a large amount of equipment on its way to Mali. Fairford RFC head coach Danny Briggs said “As soon as we heard about the SBA the whole club was keen to get involved. Rugby is a family united by our love for the game and its values. We are very happy to be able help our rugby brothers and sisters in Africa and thank the SBA for the opportunity to do so.”

The SBA thanks Fairford RFC for its generosity and support, they are a club that truly represents the community spirit and values of rugby. SBA President Serge Betsen added “Many thanks for your support to the kids in Bamako, I am very proud that the rugby family supports others in need.”

 

Mali: SBA Mali organised a rugby event with other rugby clubs from Bamako!

Early February, the Serge Betsen Academy Mali (SBA Mali) organised and hosted a rugby event for the great pleasure of our children!

Around 160 children from the Bamako schools together with young people from surrounding clubs came to play, including USFAS, EDO, HIPPOS and of course SBA Mali. The U8, U10, U12 and U14 categories were represented. Mandjou, Kady, Tidjane and Sory, the coaches of SBA Mali provided the coaching.

The younger children met with lots of others and played many games related to rugby. As for the 35 older players, they participated in a XV’s rugby match.

Personalities from the world of rugby made the trip there and took the time to visit the centre: Mr Ali Y. Diarra, former technical director of the Malian Rugby Federation, who is now based in France as well as the new president of the Malian Federation of rugby, Me Yéhiya Touré.

It was a great rugby day and the SBA defended itself well against the other teams. The girls did especially well! At the end of the day, all the children got together to enjoy a good snack and they even danced a few steps to celebrate this time spent together.

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

 

 

 

Mali: 90 school bags and 106 pairs of sliders for the children of SBA Mali

To celebrate the end of 2021, our donors wanted to spoil the children of SBA Mali. Each child who participates in the centre’s activities received a “Victor class bag” and a pair of sliders.

We would like to warmly thank the AAMFOM (American Association of Members of the French Order of Merit) for their donation, which has allowed us to locally produce 90 “Victor class bags” based on the model of those we have already been making in Cameroon since 2018. Ever since 2020, AAMFOM is one of our enthusiastic American donors. They help us ensure that our SBA children do not lose their books and notebooks and above all use their backpack as a schoolbag during the school year, and as travel bag in summer. Two bags in one, a bargain!

December 2021 also saw the distribution of 106 pairs of sliders offered by Slide Tribe UK and transported free of charge by our wonderful partner HAE.

Mandjou, SBA Mali designer and tailor, helped by a young man, produced between November and December 2021 – a record time – the 90 school bags planned for the children of the SBA Mali. In order to make these bags, which are both pretty and solid, he had to get 22 loincloths from the Bamako market, rags, poplin to make the inside of the bags and rolls of chain and thread. The AAMFOM donation was used to pay for the bags’ supplies, as well as the labour.

Bags

Then Yaya, the centre manager, transported the precious bags to the centre on the back of his motorbike, which was not an easy feat considering the total volume!

Yaya qui transporte les sacs Victor au centre Installation des sacs Victor au centre

Yaya then distributed the bags for the great joy of the 90 children of SBA Mali, who will use them daily to go to school and to the centre, thus protecting their books and notebooks. They are very grateful to AAMFOM, to Jacques Bodelle and also to Victor Obadia after whom we named these bags.

Distribution sacs Victor

Distribution sacs Victor

As for the 106 pairs of sliders kindly donated by Slide Tribe UK, they were distributed among the children, coaches and players of the Hippos XV, thanks to which the SBA Mali adventure began. Because of the Bamako’s hot temperatures due to its steppe climate, there’s nothing like sliders for everyday life, so this gift comes in very handy. It is in fact also quite common for children to walk around barefooted due to the lack of shoes that fit them. So, many thanks to Tom Hassan, Founder of Slide Tribe UK for his solidarity commitment.

Tongues Slide Tribe UK

 Distribution des tongues Slide Tribe UK

All our children say a very big THANK YOU for all these precious gifts!

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

Mali: Yaya Diallo, new Manager of the Serge Betsen Academy Mali

From 6 November 2021, Mr Yaya Diallo has been appointed as the new Manager of the Serge Betsen Academy Mali . Thank you Yaya for supporting Mali’s youth.

 

Yaya

Mali: Donated rugby gear safely arrived in Mali thanks to HAE Group

In October, three different mails of donations transported by our dear partner HAE Group  have been sent to the SBA Mali centre. Our SBA Mali children have received 162 pairs of rugby boots, 106 pairs of sliders but also 20 other pairs of shoes, 2 jumpers and and a pair of trousers.

A huge thank you to Neville Karai and the HAE Group for covering the cost of transportation of this athletic gear and for organizing the shipments with the help of Odile Prevot, our CEO.

A huge thank you to Jamie Forrester of Opus Recruitment Solutions for his beautiful donation of 162 pairs of rugby boots.

The 106 pairs of lovely sliders have been kindly donated by Slide Tribe UK. We feel very grateful to Tom Hassan, Founder and Owner at Slide Tribe for this generous donation.

Regarding the 20 pairs of shoes, the 2 jumpers and and the pair of trousers, they have been collected by Dan Soso, a rugby coach at Maryland Exiles Youth Rugby in the US. We would like to thank all the young rugby players of this club for taking part in this collection.

The first shipment arrived in Bamako and the kids were overjoyed to discover their amazing rugby boots donated by Jamie Forrester! A distribution was organized on 17 October by the volunteers of our centre on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday, a celebration that is very important in this country where Islam is prevailing.

The team of HAE has been providing us ongoing support and we would like to thank them deeply for their help and flexibility.

 

Donation HAE Group to SBA Mali

The 162 pairs of rugby boots transported by HAE Group

The 162 pairs of rugby boots transported by HAE Group

 

The donation of 106 pair of sliders by Slide Tribe

The donation of 106 pair of sliders by Slide Tribe

 

Donation HAE Group to SBA Mali

Donation HAE Group to SBA Mali

 

The SBA Mali children trying their new rugby boots

The SBA Mali children trying their new rugby boots donated by Jamie Forrester

Children trying their new rugby boots

The Sliders safely arrived in Bamako

Maryland Exiles Youth Rugby wishes much success to all of the student athletes at the Serge Betsen Academy

The young players of the Maryland Exiles Youth Rugby who have collected rugby gear for our children

 

 

 

Mali: Odile Prévot talks about SBA Mali on ORTM, Mali’s national television channel

Odile Prévot, CEO of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) was the guest of Amadou Kodio in “Samedi Loisirs”, a must-see program from the ORTM, the Office of Radio and Television of Mali. She was live at 2 p.m. (GMT) on Saturday 19 June 2021 and presented the great progress of SBA Mali. Thank you to Amadou Kodio and to the entire ORTM team for welcoming Odile Prévot!

 

The following day, on Sunday 20 June, in the presence of Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot, we inaugurated our after-school tutoring room dedicated to 25 girls aged from 8 to 13 and announced the opening of a medical dispensary within our centre. The Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher had honoured us with his presence in order to express his support for our activities. Following these magnificent steps forward by the SBA Mali, a report about this day was broadcast on Monday 21 June in “Score”, the evening sports program and rebroadcast the following morning at 10.00, on the 22, in the same program on ORTM1.

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

 

Mali: Thanks to Dr Safiatou Samassa, SBA Mali opens its medical dispensary

Dr Safiatou Samassa is a renowned young obstetrician gynaecologist at the University Hospital Centre of Bamako.

It was Odile Prévot and Serge Betsen who immediately warmed to her unusual personality when they met each other in Bamako in June. Very sensitive to the situation of our children and to our mission, she agreed to volunteer to take care of our medical dispensary. From 6 August, she will be present, every Saturday, at the centre to offer medical check-ups and care to the children of SBA Mali and also their parents.

Her presence will also allow for talks with the girls on the taboos surrounding the condition of women in the country and the management of menstrual hygiene, with a view to the upcoming launch of the SBAPads project for the production and distribution of washable sanitary pads.

Thank you Doctor for your involvement!

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

 

Odile Prévot and the Doctor

Mali: TV5 Monde broadcasts on the launch of the education and health components of the SBA Mali

Thank you to TV5MONDE for this report on SBA Mali and to Kaorou Magassa, journalist, for making the trip to meet Serge Betsen in Bamako.

Watching this report, Serge exclaimed:

“How wonderful it is for me to see the youth of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) full of energy!

Seeing our actions on site and the opportunities that we offer allows us once again to deploy our vision, which is based on 3 pillars: sport, education and health. This triptych is the DNA of the SBA, this great initiative of which I am super proud thanks to all those who on a daily basis make this vision a reality in the daily lives of the children whom we help every day, 365 days a year and this for the last 17 years.

You can watch the part of TV5 Monde’s news about my association here: https://youtu.be/bPzYghl9fq0

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

 

Mali: Jean-Guy Monneret, the man with a big heart, and thanks to whom our daughters can study in a beautiful classroom!

We would like to warmly thank Jean-Guy Monneret and the entire ATC Mali team for the magnificent classroom which is now located on the grounds of AS REAL in Bamako.

Jean-Guy Monneret is the Managing Director and the Founder of the ATC Mali group specialising in large-scale metal construction (mining, boiler making / oil depots, irrigation, containers, transport / handling).  Based in Bamako for over 20 years and passionate about rugby, he is involved in several associations and rugby clubs locally.  He immediately agreed to become a partner of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) in Mali and took on responsibility for the manufacture of the container which is dedicated to become the school support room for our 25 young girls from Bamako.  He also decorated the interior of the room and donated the furniture.

Here are some photos of the work carried out.  The container was installed on the grounds of the stadium a few days before its inauguration, after a clearing and cleaning up of the ground with the help of Serge Betsen and the rugby coaches.  It was not an easy task!

After-School tutoring room in construction Inside - After-School tutoring room in construction

Desk and bench for the girls Construction of the after-school tutoring room

Construction of the after-school tutoring room Inside of the after-school tutoring room

Serge close to the container Container

Inside of the after-school room Inside of the after-school room

 The girls discovering their after-school tutoring room

 

Jean-Guy is a former rugby player who followed the career of Serge Betsen closely.  He was keen to become a partner of SBA Mali from the moment the SBA office presented its project to him during their study trip in January 2020.  Serge Betsen visited him during his stay in Bamako in June 2021 to thank him and give him a small gift.

Serge Betsen, Jean-Guy Monneret and his son Wet

A big thank you to Jean-Guy of ATC Mali, to Mr. Massez, the head metal carpenter, to Yaya and the whole team for their involvement and their work.  Without you, the education component of SBA Mali could not have been implemented!

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

Mali: A beautiful inauguration ceremony for the after-school tutoring room of the SBA Mali centre

On Sunday 20 June at 11 a.m., the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) officially opened, with a lot of emotion, the after-school tutoring room for the 25 young girls selected among the players of the Saturday and Sunday training sessions. On this occasion, the association’s board specially made the trip to Mali and it was Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, the children and the supervisors who received our guests. Among the official authorities, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction did us the honour of presiding over the ceremony, thus affirming his support for our actions.

School room SBA Mali

The ceremony started at 11 a.m. at the AS REAL stadium in Bamako and it was Mory Touré, journalist and loyal supporter of SBA Mali who hosted the event as MC. The program of the day’s celebrations was organised as follows:

11 a.m.: arrival of children and guests

11.15-11.45 a.m.: children’s rugby matches

12 noon: speech by Serge Betsen

12.15 p.m.: speech by Odile Prevot

12.35 p.m.: speech by the Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher

12.45 p.m.: 3 exhibition matches of rugby sevens

12.45 p.m.: visit of the container by the 25 young girls and the guests

1 p.m.: buffet generously hosted by the restaurant LE LOFT in Bamako, then reunion with the players of the Hippos XV of Bamako.

The SBA Mali children, Mr Mossa Ag Attaher, Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot

 

During this event, Boubou Sangho, a young Malian entrepreneur, founder of Boubou Lait was introduced to our children. Impressed by his success, the board of the association had indeed offered him to become the mentor of the young people of SBA Mali, a mission which he kindly accepted.

The after-school tutoring classroom is now installed on the AS REAL stadium in Bamako with the authorisation of Mr. Sow, its president and Mr. Laurent, whom we’d like to thank warmly. And it is thanks to the hard work of our partner, the ATC Mali group founded and led by Jean-Guy Monneret that the container and its interior were manufactured, decorated and supplied. A few days before the inauguration, and once Serge Betsen and the rugby coaches had cleared and cleaned-up the pitch, it was installed at the location indicated by Mr. Sow and Mr. Laurent. Desks, benches, shelves and blackboard were also kindly donated by Jean-Guy Monneret. The result is magnificent and we are very grateful to Jean-Guy for his donation and to his team. Thanks to them, our young girls will study in good conditions!

The girls discovering their after-school tutoring room

The after-school tutoring classes will start on Tuesday 6 July and so, 25 girls aged from 8 to 13, in great difficulty, will benefit from them. These will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Madame Coulibaly Afoussatou, an experienced teacher and a volunteer, will assist the girls in order to provide them with the necessary keys to the continuation and success of their education. By supporting these girls, we indeed want to fight against school drop-out, forced marriage and teenage pregnancies which are rampant in Mali. The principle of equality between girls and boys is indeed at the heart of our principles. And our goal is to empower these girls.

During its stay in Mali, the association’s board made the children play rugby but above all spent precious time with them in order to talk at length, especially with the girls and their mothers, in a small group. The members of the board also met Dr Safiatou Samassa, a renowned young obstetrician gynaecologist at the University Hospital Centre of Bamako. Very sensitive to the situation of our children and to our mission, she agreed to volunteer to take care of our medical dispensary. From 6 August she will be present, every Saturday, at the centre to offer medical check-ups and care to the children of SBA Mali and also their parents. The health component of the SBA Mali is therefore in good hands!

Odile Prévot, the Doctor and Serge Betsen

The board also had the opportunity to meet government representatives and local stakeholders to present the association’s progress and projects for the coming year. We would like to thank Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction and Mr. Arouna Modibo Touré, former Minister of Youth and Sports. We also want to thank H.E Nimaga Mahamadou, Ambassador of Mali to the United States who helped us from Washington DC to prepare for this trip and to put us in contact with people who could support us.

A big thank you also to our partners, the ATC Mali group for the magnificent container, Mr. Sow from AS REAL in Bamako and Mr. Laurent for lending us the land, but also to Mory Touré, Boubou Sangho, Martine du Loft restaurant for the delicious buffet, to the journalists who came to meet us, to Nicolas Réméné for his photos and to all those present at the inauguration.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to our local volunteers, Diarra Mandjou and Diallo Yaya who set everything up and takes care of our children on a daily basis.

The beautiful photos in this article were taken by our official photographer, Nicolas Réméné, on this very special day and we thank him for it.

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

Inside of the after-school room

Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, Mory Touré devant le container

Rugby

Serge, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Odile Prevot

2 girls at the rugby training

The Minister and a kid receiving trainees

Serge and the girls playing rugby

Serge and the children

Cérémonie d’inauguration au Stade de l’AS REAL de Bamako dans le quartier de Para-Djicoroni , le 20 juin 2021 de la salle de soutien scolaire qui accueillera 25 jeunes filles de la Serge Betsen Academy en présence du Ministre de la Jeunesse et des Sports, chargé de l’Instruction Civique et de la Construction Citoyenne, M. Mossa Ag ATTAHER, de Monsieur Abidine Maïga, vice-président de la Fédération Malienne de Rugby et de l’ancien international français Serge Betsen.