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.
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