Mali: The SBA Mali is expanding and deploying its education and health components!

Since October 2020, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) has opened a branch in Mali and rugby training takes place every weekend at the AS REAL stadium in Bamako. Following the model of the SBA in Cameroon, which has proven itself for the last 17 years, the SBA Mali uses rugby as a vector of social integration and adds the two missing strings to its bow: the education component and the health component.  While the inauguration of the school support classroom dedicated to young girls will take place on Sunday 20 June in the presence of Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot, classes will actually begin on 1 July.  That same day, the centre’s medical dispensary will be open thanks to the presence of a renowned young volunteer doctor. The implementation of this winning model based on the three components is therefore imminent in Mali!

Among the 90 rugby players, 25 young girls from very disadvantaged backgrounds aged from 8 to 13 were selected to benefit from tutoring courses.  A classroom was needed on the premises of the stadium and a solution was under study.  And it was Jean-Guy Monneret, Managing Director and Founder of the ATC Mali group, who agreed to manufacture at his own expense a container dedicated to accommodate a classroom.  We sincerely thank him and his entire team. A few days ago, the rugby players of SBA Mali and Serge Betsen cleared out and cleaned up the grounds in order to install the container in the location indicated by Mr. Sow. Desks, benches, shelves and a blackboard were kindly donated by Jean-Guy Monneret.

Intérieur terminé du container Intérieur terminé du container

Serge à côté du container

By supporting these young girls, the SBA wishes to fight against dropping out of school, forced marriage and teenage pregnancies which are rampant in Mali. The principle of equality between girls and boys is indeed at the heart of the principles of the SBA, and education is the best key to fostering the empowerment of girls.

On Sunday 20 June at 11 am, the Serge Betsen Academy will be delighted to inaugurate the tutoring room.  For this occasion, the association’s board specially made the trip to Mali.  Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, the children, the manager Boubacar Traoré a.k.a. “PC” and the rugby coaches will greet the guests, among whom will be official authorities.  Mory Touré, loyal to the SBA Mali from its very beginnings will be there as MC and Boubou Sangho, Founder and CEO of Boubou Lait will take the floor to announce his wish to follow the young people closely, as a mentor. A visit to the container and rugby matches are of course scheduled for the day. It will be announced that the girls will start their classes on Thursday 1 July and will then be expected every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A new life begins for them!

As for the health component of the SBA Mali, it is developing faster than was expected, thanks to a meeting with Dr Safiatou Samassa, an obstetrician gynaecologist at the University Hospital of Bamako.  She has volunteered to take care of the SBA Mali medical clinic.  She will be present at the centre every Saturday to provide 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 status of women in the country and the management of menstrual hygiene, with a view to the upcoming launch of the SBA Pads project for the production and distribution of washable sanitary napkins.

The SBA is now deploying its winning triptych, education – health – rugby in Mali, thanks to the support of official authorities, generous partners and donors who all believe in this project.  Reaching out to childhood is the goal of the association and success seems to be at the end of the road!

As part of its stay in Mali, the association’s board took the time to discuss in depth with the children and their mothers, took stock of progress, launched new projects and had the honour of meeting political figures, local authorities and various journalists whom we wish to thank. Nicolas Réméné, our documentary photographer, was present during the 16 June rugby training session to capture these unique moments.

We are pleased to post a few of his gorgeous shots below.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Partnership: Recycling Rugby, the recycling operation that transforms old rugby balls into bags and pouches of all kinds is growing!

Recycling Rugby is now a fully-fledged association which is no longer directly attached to the Sports Association of the Denis Diderot College of Massy.

However, the close links with the Diderot College continue to the extent that management and students are still directly involved in the operation. We warmly thank them for their support, without which Recycling Rugby could have not taken off!

100% of the profits from the operation will always be donated to the Serge Betsen Academy (except for exceptional operations which would be announced on their network).

We would like to thank all of you for your charity purchases, the benefits of which have generated a donation of £55,000 (64,000€) in 5 years for the SBA!

To order, just private message Recycling Rugby on their Facebook page. Father’s Day can be a great occasion to make someone happy while doing a good deed.

 

We take this opportunity to thank Lionel and Margaux from the Recycling Rugby team for their great work and also all the volunteers involved in the operation.

 

Translation: Katy Birge-Wilson

Cameroon: Our rugby project for kids is gaining momentum!

50 toddlers (26 girls and 24 boys) from the Jardin Eden centre in Yaoundé and the Zoétélé centre, now play rugby in a well-equipped and safe environment. They are all insured and proudly wear the chasubles and belts created by Herode, a local seamstress. They use the official Touch Rugby game belts and tags. Their coaches also benefit from abundant equipment, provided by the equipment manufacturer, Citysport, allowing them to vary the exercises and to introduce their students to the fundamentals of rugby.

 

Rugby for Kids trainingRugby for Kids training Rugby for Kids trainingRugby for Kids training Rugby for Kids training

Through this program, all these children, whose families have great financial difficulties, play rugby on a weekly basis, discover its structure and its values, and are able to share a snack together. By following this program, they also have access to after-school tutoring and health checks in our centres.

It is thanks to Sport & Développement (French program of the NGO La Guilde, supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)) that these 50 children from the Cameroonian SBA, aged between 2 and 13, that “Rugby for Kids” exists.

We warmly thank the NGO La Guilde and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for their support and trust, as well as Herode for using her talents as a seamstress to make the outfits for our little champions.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Event: A beautiful Six-Nations Crunch game Virtual Quiz Night raising funds for our charity

On 11 March 2021, Serge Betsen and Rugby Legends hosted our first virtual quiz night thanks to the efforts of the TFA Ldt team who created the quiz. This evening of fun at the Six-Nations Crunch game Virtual Quiz Night was the occasion to raise funds for our charity!

You were 91 teams of players to stand up for our charity which means so much to us! Some questions of the quiz were of course related to rugby, but various topics linked to the French and British cultures have been chosen by Serge Betsen who was commenting.

Thank you to all the quiz teams, our Rugby Legends, and our donors for the support at the Six-Nations Crunch game Virtual Quiz night, it was a really fantastic evening. Congratulations to our winners, TEAM GOAT. You’re the first winners of this prestigious event, but we’re sure others will be back to challenge you next year!

The total raised from the evening is £4,094.22 so far – this will make a huge difference to the lives of the children we support in Cameroon and Mali, every £10 raised will pay for the meals for a child for a year. Thanks again to all the participants and donors! Serge is so grateful for your support on that night.

Crunch quiz game
We felt very fortunate to count on Serge Betsen’s friends, Dimitri Yachvili, Danielle Waterman, Paul Wallace, Mike Phillips, Mike Tindall and Bryan Redpath. You were amazing quiz hosts!

A special thank you to Arun Sharma and Paul McHugh of TFA Limited for creating this quiz and for supporting our charity, and to Dataiku for their beautiful donation.

Thanks very much to all of you for your participation and your support. This evening made us feel like meeting you all in person and we truly hope that we will be able to gather for our next event. This year, the  XV de France travelled to the UK for Le Crunch, that is why our virtual evening was in English. Next year, we should host the event in French, for sure!

Cameroon: Mr. Olivier Cadic, senator representing French citizens abroad visitsthe Jardin Eden Centre

On Wednesday December 16, Mr. Olivier Cadic, senator representing French citizens abroad visited the children of the Jardin Eden centre in Yaoundé. Nadège, Christelle and Josué had the honour of welcoming him and presenting our activities and actions to him.

Mr. Olivier Cadic published on his website a report of his visit to Yaoundé in which he dedicates the following paragraphs to our association and his visit:

“I had a great time at the Serge Betsen Academy discovering the universe where some thirty children grow up as happy as they are fulfilled (see picture).

Visite de M. Olivier Cadic à Yaoundé

Serge Betsen, a former French international with a prestigious record and who was awarded the title of the best rugby player in the world in 2002, is based in the United Kingdom.

Serge is not only an extraordinary athlete, he is also an exceptional personality who has decided to dedicate his energy to the creation of a support structure for disadvantaged children in Cameroon.

Shortly after my election to the Senate, I had invited Serge to the Luxembourg Palace (in Paris) and promised that as soon as I would go to Cameroon I would visit one of his centres.

I visited the Jardin Eden centre, one of the 5 SBA centres which opened in 2011 and was welcomed by Nadège, Christelle and Josué. I thank them for the lovely welcome, together with the children.

Located in the heart of Yaoundé, this centre is intended for children aged from 3 to 10 (school years (FR) CP to CM2, (UK) Year 2 to Year 6)) whose families are in precarious situations. It welcomes 30 children, each child benefiting from various activities thanks to two volunteers and a centre manager, Nadège Noa.

Since 2004, the SBA has helped more than 6,500 disadvantaged children, using the teaching of rugby as a vector of development to provide access to quality education and health monitoring. (More images).”

Nadège, M. Olivier Cadic, Christelle et Josué

All the children of the Jardin Eden centre, together with the Serge Betsen Academy team would like to thank the Senator for his warm visit. We are delighted to be featured in his photo retrospective of 2020.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: Loan of a laptop to enable Baudouin to be successful at university

Baudouin Tchamegni Keou is a young man from the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté. He is currently studying for a degree in Network and Multimedia Administration. To enable him to study in the best conditions and for him to succeed, we decided to lend him a laptop computer and to provide him with a kit of school supplies for a period of one year.

We are so happy and proud to be able to help him with his studies. We wish him a very successful year and kindly thank him for his warm message:

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Partnership: Christmas donation from the HAE Group, our dear partner

As an alternative to customer gifting in 2020, the HAE Group will be donating additional support to the charities they are closest to and notably to the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA). We would like to thank them warmly for their £500 donation for our children. It is such a beautiful gesture for Christmas.
We feel very fortunate to have HAE as a partner since 2014.
Holiday greetings and best wishes for the new year to all the HAE team!

Serge Betsen, new Sport Impact Leader

As a public figure committed to development through sports in Africa, Serge Betsen was invited by Sport en Commun to join the community of Sport Impact Leaders. We are really proud to see our President’s charitable actions receiving recognition!

And for those who don’t know Sport en Commun, it is a pan-African digital platform launched thanks to the French Development Agency (Agence francaise de Développement) and which is designed to facilitate transformation through sport by connecting project managers with providers that can fund their activities and support them in their implementation.

 

Serge Betsen - Sport Impact Leader

Cameroon: School results for the year 2019-2020

We are very proud to share with you the academic results of our children for the school year 2019-2020. It was a very odd year; due to the pandemic schools and our centres were obliged to close for several months. However the results turned out clearly higher than the national average because our children knew how to remain serious and they continued to study, motivated by the managers of the centres.

Regarding the baccalaureate (general and technical), the SBA success rate reached 70.37% (the national rate is 47.22%).  The SBA pass rate for the BEPC is 90% (the national rate is 60.86%).  Finally, the general success rate (all classes combined, exam success and entry to the superior class) reached 86.03%.

We warmly congratulate our young people on their successes and we take this opportunity to thank our donors and partners who made it possible for our children to study in good conditions.

You will see below some souvenir photos of the young people whilst studying in our different centres during this complicated year.

Les jeunes de Bafia travaillent Soutien scolaire individuel à Bafia

Cours de soutien scolaire au centre Eau Claire  Jeunes de Zoétélé qui étudient

Les petits et Nadège au centre Jardin Eden

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: It’s back to school for the 2020-2021 school year!

Due to the health crisis, the school calendar has been severely disrupted in Cameroon. So it was only on Monday 05 October 2020 that our children and their classmates were able to return to school. We wish them a good start to the school year and are determined to give them all the support they need to make this new year a success.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners and donors, our children were able to return to school well equipped. Distributions were carried out with joy in all the centres at the start of the school year. Often, on these occasions, small parties around a snack were organised. At the Eau Claire centre of Bangangté 125 children were happy to receive their treasures and to share a good meal together. At the Zoétélé centre, a ceremony was even organised by Abaa in the presence of the second degree village chief and a few parents, in order to distribute the school supplies and to provide scholarships to support education.

Distribution at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté Distribution at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté

ceremony distribution in Zoetele ceremony distribution in Zoetele

Distribution school supply and school bags in Bafia  Distribution school supply and school bags in Bafia

Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre

All the children at the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA), whether young or old, now proudly carry a well-stocked backpack.  These pretty “Victor bags” named after our donor Victor Obadia were made by Clarisse, a seamstress from Yaoundé, close to the SBA.

Victor school bags

It is notably thanks to the BIC group, to Mr. Arnopoulos of the ARNO group, to Icrafon following the efforts of Victor Roussel, Secretary of DROP (Doualla Rugby Old Papy’s) and to the other generous donors of the Ulule campaign created by a team of students at IPAG Business School, that our children have the necessary school supplies for the school year and that our centres are equipped with books and supplies.

Icrafon Victor Icrafon Victor

The BIC group gave us 1200 pens of each colour (blue, green, red and black) as well as a few boxes of pencils and felt pens which were distributed to our various centres. And to complete this collection, we were able to purchase other supplies useful to the centres thanks to the voucher of 120,000 FCFA (= 183 euros) that Mr Arnopoulos donated, as he did the previous year.

BIC donation BIC donation

For our rugby training, we were able to renew our stock of equipment thanks to the generosity of our donors in France and in particular to Hubert and Christophe. Hubert sent boxes containing 41 jerseys and 24 shorts for our rugby players as well as children’s clothing and toys.

Rugby equipment from Hubert Rugby equipment from Hubert

As for Christophe, he took care of transporting other boxes of rugby equipment to Yaoundé.  These were packages filled with sports’ vests, rugby polo shirts but also books that Christophe left in Etoudi. He arrived during a rugby training session so that our players and Moise had the joy of meeting him and thanking him in person.

Christophe and the rugbbymen of Etoudi Christophe and the rugbbymen of Etoudi

As for our infirmaries, we also stocked up on Laborex medicines and paramedical products offered by the DROP. In September, Victor, DROP’s Secretary came to train with our Bangangté rugby team. On this occasion, he handed over the school supplies offered by Icrafon as well as the Laborex medicines offered directly by DROP. Victor went to great lengths to enable us to receive these donations and we thank him very much.

Donation of medicines from the DROP

A huge thank you to all the donors for allowing our children to return to school well equipped!

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson