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.”
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
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
All our children say a very big THANK YOU for all these precious gifts!
Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson
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