FOOTBALL - A DRIVING FORCE FOR EDUCATION - DIAMBARS
by Astrid Mannion
From Left to Right: Standing: Ms Eivor Esaiassen (Diambars), Mr Svein Mollekleiv (Norwegian Red Cross), Mr Niels Røine (Norwegian Football League), Mr Jan Åge Fjørtoft (Former Football Player), Mr Einar Lunde (Former News Anchor), Mr Eilert Rostrup (Karibu), Mr Romain Sombret (Diambars) And Trine Lise Hattestad (Former Olympic Champion). From Left To Right, Sitting: Mr Jimmy Adjovi-Boco (Diambars), Mr Per-Mathias Høgmo (Tromsø Football Club), Ambassador Sisulu, Mr Nils Johan Semb (Former Norwegian Football Manager) and Ms Maria Jacobsen (Norway Cup)
The former football teammates (Lille and RC Lens, France) dreamt of using football as a tool for educating children in Africa, and together they founded Diambars, which means “champions” in Senegalese, in 2000. French junior international Saer Seck and French football star Patrick Vieira soon joined the Diambars organization, which has proved to be a huge success and given inspiration to thousands of disadvantaged children in Africa. In cooperation with UNESCO, Diambars develops education-through-sport institutes and organises awareness campaigns and educational programmes to promote academic and vocational training.
Senegal was the first country where Diambars’philosophy of using a passion for soccer to promote education was tried and tested. In 2003, in less than a year, the Diambars Institute for boys aged 13 to 18 years was built and began its first classes. At the institute, education always comes first and students are expected to achieve high standards, but at the same time, many football talents are nurtured and discovered here. If the school’s graduates are sold to a club, the money is reinvested into the school and other institutes in Africa. Diambars’ director, Jimmy Adjovi-Boco, explains: “We have injected 10 million Euros in Senegal. One player signing a first contract in Europe for 300.000 Euros will keep 60 students in school for one year. It has become a social project,” he says.
Today, South Africa is also one of the African countries benefiting from the hands-on contribution of Diambars. “It is very important that we succeed in South Africa, because South Africa means a lot for the rest of the continent and we want to spread our concept,” Mr Adjovi-Boco says. An institute is already up-and-running at Sunward Park High School in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg. Here, teenage boys receive a quality education whilst sharpening their football skills. Mr Adjovi-Boco continues: “80-90 percent of the boys come from poor backgrounds. Ten per cent make it as professionals. We want to teach them how to become good role models.” If they don’t make it as professional football players, most of the graduates end up with jobs or continue studying at universities.
Ambassador Beryl Rose Sisulu together with Jimmy Adjovi-Boco, Director Of Diambars
Ambassador Beryl Rose Sisulu, Ambassador of South Africa in Norway, recently met Mr Adjovi-Boco during a promotional visit to Norway. Diambars has five professional players in Norway who are regularly being followed up; “Norwegians love football and education is very important,” says Mr Adjovi-Boco who is looking for more partners and sponsors in Norway. During their latest visit to Norway, Mr Adjovi-Boco and his colleagues Mr Romain Sombret and Ms Eivor Esaiassen held a presentation on Diambars during a lunch reception hosted by Ambassador Sisulu. High-profile guests included the director of the Norwegian Football League; Niels Røine, manager of Tromsø Football Club, Per-Mathias Høgmo, former Norwegian national team coach Nils Johan Semb, former Olympic Champion Stine Lise Hattestad, former Norwegian footballer Jan Åge Fjørtoft, the director of Norwegian Red Cross, Sven Mollekleiv, former news anchor Einar Lunde, Karibu director Eilert Rostrup and Maria Jacobsen from Norway Cup, all of whom were clearly impressed by Diambars’ philosophy, passion and achievements. Following the successful get-together, there is no doubt that Diambars’ relationship with Norway and South Africa will only continue to grow stronger.
South African Embassy in Oslo, Norway