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Mali: The SBA Mali is born!

With more than 16-years’ experience in Cameroon, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) opened a branch in Mali. The opening ceremony, kicking off the start of the rugby training, took place on Saturday 24 October at the AS Real stadium in Bamako. As for the daily after-school tutoring, this will begin in a few weeks, the 25 young girls aged 8 to 13 having now been selected.

SBA Mali banner SBA Mali Girls

Through rugby, we want to offer new perspectives for the future of the 70-90 children who will follow our program. Among them, 25 young female rugby players from very disadvantaged backgrounds will be offered tutoring every day after school, except on Saturday, training day. By preventing them from dropping out of school, we seek to protect them against the scourges that plague Mali, namely forced marriages, teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation (FGM).  A long struggle for girls’ education and gender equality is underway at the SBA Mali.

It is thanks to our referent on site, Boubacar Traoré a.k.a. “PC” that this opening ceremony was able to take place in the best of conditions. The get together was set-up at the Modibo Keita stadium located in the Djikoroni district. It is on the site of the Sports Association of AS Real in Bamako that the SBA Mali will be able to train and it is thanks to Mr. Sow, its president that we will very soon be able to install, on site, a mobile structure to accommodate our tutoring courses.

Joy and pleasure could be seen on all the faces, especially those of the little ones. About a hundred children were present as well as a few parents and guests who honoured us with their presence.

Before 4 p.m., young and old were ready on the ground and at 4:10 p.m. “PC” greeted the first guest: Mr. Sow’s representative: Mr. Abidine Maiga. We then began the opening ceremony with a presentation of the SBA in Bambara, the lingua franca of Mali.

Ceremony launch SBA Mali

The rugby games kicked off at 4.30 p.m. first with the big players: the national rugby sevens team taking on a team made up of other players from Bamako. Then, the U13 and U15 boys each played a game.

Rugby Matches SBA Mali Rugby Matches SBA Mali

At 5:00 p.m. we played the short video of the great Serge Betsen so that, in a way, he could be there with us too. Because of the global pandemic, sadly he was unable to be physically present for the big occasion.  Still, his encouragements rang out throughout the stadium and served as a good transition, prior to the girls’ games.

The girls appeared on the field and played very close games.  Their game was eagerly awaited, the girls holding a key place in the mission of the SBA Mali.  In the attached video you can appreciate their presence and their fighting spirit on the ground.

It was with great pride that the 25 girls aged 8 to 13, who will receive daily after-school tutoring as part of the first year of SBA Mali, were presented to everyone. As you may know, they were selected by “PC” among the Anges Noirs (Dark Angels) players and a meeting with the parents had been organised beforehand. We specifically chose these young girls to provide them with academic support through Malian teachers chosen by “PC”.  The aim is to help them continue their studies in order to provide them with a safe and healthy environment.

Girls of the SBA Mali tutoring programme

The opening ceremony ended with a well-deserved snack and some dancing.  Our children all seemed happy to meet again next Saturday for another training session.

The SBA Mali is launched, dreams will be fulfilled, lives will be changed.

We would very much like to thank the Malian authorities, H.E. Mahamadou Nimaga and his team from the Embassy of Mali in the USA, Mr. Arouna Modibo Touré, former Minister of Youth and Sports, for their support without which our branch could not have seen the day.

A big thank you also to Mr. Lauran, Vice President of the Rugby Federation of Mali, Dr. Seydou Sow, President of AS Real in Bamako who provided us with the ground for our training and the site for the after-school tutoring.

Our children also greatly appreciated the presence of Manhi Dembelebb, the champion of Mali in bench-press and Samba Benzema Doucoure, Credit Manager at Banque Atlantique, two models of success!

To learn more about the genesis of SBA Mali, please read our Press Release and share it with others, friends and more.  We also take this opportunity to thank the journalists who helped us share the good news about our branch in Mali.

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Call for donations: Collection of rugby boots and sport shoes in progress

Friends of the Paris and Toulouse regions, we need your sport shoes and rugby boots!

Our young people are truly enjoying rugby, even barefoot or in flip flops.  Still we would really like to give them sport shoes or rugby boots so that they can train in better conditions.

If you have any of these treasures in good condition (child or adult sizes) in your closets, please send us a photo along with the size of the shoes by email (contact@sergebetsenacademy.org), so that we can see if they would suit one of our budding rugby players.  They will for sure make someone happy.

Thank you so much to all of you who have already shared our call and made a donation.

Our favourite physiotherapist, Major Mouvement has published some great stories on his Instagram account to give us a helping hand and we thank him!

Major Mouvement's call for donation

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

 

Partnership: Our Rugby project for Kids has received a “Sport & Development” grant!

It is with great pride and joy that we can announce that our project “Rugby for Kids (girls and boys)” is one of the winners of, and as such has been awarded funding by, Sport & Développement (Sport & Development), a programme of the ONG La Guilde (The European Guild), supported by AFD – Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency).

At the Jardin Eden centre, the end of 2019 saw the budding start of an initiation to rugby carried out by Moise our coach at Etoudi and this try was successfully converted. This programme will be able to take on a new dimension thanks to this “Sport & Development” grant of 20,000 € ($ 22,680). 50 kids will indeed be able to discover rugby, respect, team spirit, healthy competition, avoid the “girls-boys” stereotypes and benefit from a structured education and medical care. We are so happy for these children and their families who, thanks to this programme, will have an easier daily life and a better future.

This programme will be set up in the Jardin Eden centre of Yaoundé and the centre of Zoétélé starting from August 2020. It will benefit 26 girls and 24 boys, aged from 2 to 13, from deprived families. They have hoped to play rugby for so many years, watching their big brothers and sisters of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) and their dream will come true sooner than expected!

The  kids will play rugby once a week, in a way designed as a safe awakening activity and will discover the fundamentals of this sport and its values. They will benefit very early on from a structured education on the rugby field but also on the benches of our centres during after school tutoring classes. They will be able to participate in these classes every afternoon from Monday to Friday at the Jardin Eden centre and on Saturdays and Sundays at the Zoétélé centre, throughout the whole year.

They will also have access to basic health care. They will go through an initial medical check-up, organised in August 2020, and then will carry on having medical monitoring throughout the project. In addition, on training days the children will enjoy a snack and will be taught hygiene rules.

We would warmly like to thank the ONG La Guilde (The European Guild) and AFD – Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) for their support and their trust, as well as Michèle Quenardel, our volunteer for all the help given to our team in responding to the call for projects.

We can’t wait to get the little ones from the SBA playing! Do not forget to follow the set-up of the #Rugby4Kids project on our social networks, because this project will make happy players and maybe we’ll see the emergence of mini Serge Betsens!

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson