Diambars project: The hope of Africans
It is estimated that 70% of children in Africa do not have access to education. Though, their passion for football remains untouched. 'Diambars' Institute, which started its activities in Senegal and then expanded elsewhere, has this goal in mind: to combine football and education, using the first as a tool for the second.
Each year, many children leave Africa for Europe, with one dream. A soccer career, which will pave the way to a decent life. But it is quite often they fall victims of trafficking, with some ignorants to benefit from them. In this academy of at least they ensure that they will not became victims.
Project 'Diambars' made at Senegal in 2001 and first opened its doors to children in 2003. It's creators are Jimmy Adjovi-Boco, Saer Seck, Bernard Lama and Patrick Vieira. Essentially, its role is twofold. On one, acts as a football academy and the other assumes social initiatives. Its primary aim is education, with football to motivate students. The important thing for it's survival is that when players graduate and sign a contract, the money returned to the project.
The aim is to use football as a driving force for the education of young Africans and those who cannot continue in professional football (80% of the students), will have the necessary skills to stand with dignity in their lives. The program lasts for five years and education is the key to success, while providing a way of self-preservation.
"Our economic model helps to ensure our survival for a year, when one or two players to sign with a European club. Refunds in 2011 were sufficient to cover the salaries of 80 people and costs of 100 youths. It's a real economic and social project, which is based on revenues generated by football. We are pleased that for the first time, the success of African footballers in Europe helps the development of the continent." said the creator of the project.
Education and training is a must in Diambars
The word 'Diambars' means warriors and embodies the philosophy of the initiators of the project in order to "give back to football what he gave us". Solidarity, humility, respect, loyalty, tolerance, participation and trust are values that the makers are trying to instill in children. Also, a key priority for the football itself is the observance of Fair Play, which is reflected in the nature of the organization. 'Diambars' remains committed to them and in turn, the students do the same after graduating, staying true to their values.
Approximately 4000-5000 children do each time a request to enter the program, however, only 18 are accepted, with the first single "batch" to start with 32. Training takes place in the morning before classes and in the afternoon, while the program lasts five years(!). Online courses are scheduled for students who need to miss a football tournament abroad in order not to leave behind. Every year, for about two months, the kids traveling in Europe, with expenses paid by Air France, a sponsor of the project.
They play games in Spain and Norway, and then live in family houses offered to accommodate them in France. The first graduates came out in 2008 and some of these made the step to Europe, particularly Scandinavia.
The supporters of the project are several. By UNESCO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, by the Senegalese government and sports apparel companies. Also, a collaboration with French Lille, which is the team that the first player from the project signed a professional contract: Idrissa Gueye.
In 2010 the project created academies in South Africa and extended to France and England, in order to create programs and fundraising for the academies in Africa.
They know well that not all children will become footballers. It is not their goal to create another football factory. But by using football, they give a motivate for learning and education in a continent where opportunities are rare. And this is perhaps the most important success.