Following President Emmanuel Macron's announcement at the New Africa-France Summit on 8 October 2021, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Diambars Institute and PLAY International - Groupe SOS have joined forces to provide a concrete response to the promotion of sport in Africa as a vector for economic development and social impact. More than FCFA 2.6 Billion have been mobilised to support sports academies in Africa, recognised for their commitment to young people from all backgrounds, in order to develop their expertise and multiply their impact, particularly in terms of education and the promotion of gender equality.

On Thursday 3 November 2022, just one year after President Emmanuel Macron’s speech, many personalities came to take part in the launch ceremony of the programme to strengthen sports and inclusive academies in Africa, at the Diambars Institute in Saly. Among them :

  • the Minister of Sports, Yankhoba DIATARA;
  • the Director General of the French Development Agency, Rémy RIOUX;
  • the President of the Diambars Institute, Saer SECK;
  • one of the co-founders of the Diambars Institute, Jimmy ADJOVI-BOCO,
  • one of the co-founders of the Diambars Institute and World and European champion, Bernard LAMA,
  • the Ambassador for Sport, Laurence FISCHER,
  • the General Manager of PLAY International – SOS Group, Guillemette PETIT.

This programme aims to support the emergence of inclusive sports academies on the continent. Particular attention will be paid to the quality of the academic training offered as well as to the implementation of actions aimed at fostering gender equality, both through the development of women’s participation, the promotion of women to management positions and through activities to raise awareness of gender equality issues. The academies will also benefit from expert support to ensure the sustainability of their business model in the long term.

The goal is to support young people in their emancipation through sport and their professional integration. They will become inspiring role models in their communities, carrying fundamental social values (generosity, equality between women and men, respect, etc.). The programme will also aim to create new economic and professional opportunities for young people, enabling more young people to develop through sport.

The program will draw on the joint expertise of AFD, the Diambars Institute and PLAY International – Groupe SOS which have been using sport as a lever for education for many years.

A pilot phase will be launched from autumn 2022, supporting 4 academies in 6 African countries:

Lead Academy: Launched in Liberia in 2015 and in Morocco in 2019, it provides elite academic and sports training as well as life skills workshops to girls and boys, aged 8 to 18 ;

SEED Academy: Launched in Senegal in 2002, the SEED Academy is the first high potential basketball academy in Africa. It now hosts up to 40 student-athletes, girls and boys, with a strong focus on youth education;

Serge Betsen Academy: Present in Cameroon since 2004 and in Mali since 2020, it offers academic support and reinforced medical monitoring to more than 490 young people and their families among the most disadvantaged, while transmitting the values and benchmarks of rugby;

Sunward Park High School: A public school founded in 1977 in the suburbs of Johannesburg, it welcomes 2,500 students in a sports and football studies section with a strong commitment to gender equality.

At the end of this pilot phase, a call for projects will be launched in 2023 to support 12 additional academies throughout the African continent. Actions will be carried out to mobilise other partners around the programme in order to reach Emmanuel Macron’s stated objective of supporting 30 academies by 2025.


“I am delighted that this collaboration with PLAY International and the Diambars Institute, one year after President Macron’s announcement at the New Africa-France Summit in Montpellier, has made it possible to launch a program to strengthen sports and inclusive academies in Africa. Convinced of the importance of sport in terms of economic and social impact on the African continent, AFD Group supports civil society actors who use sport as a powerful lever for youth, education and gender equality. This initiative marks a new stage in bringing the worlds of sport and development closer together: forming a single team to accompany Africa on its journey towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Guillemette PETIT – PLAY International

“We are grateful for the trust AFD has placed in us for this project which is close to our hearts. For 23 years, PLAY has been working to demonstrate that sport is a powerful lever for education, inclusion, living together and emancipation, particularly on an issue as important as gender equality. Collaborating with an organisation such as Diambars was an obvious choice. Like us, they share the conviction that sport can be a solution to our societal challenges. Our complementarity will enable us to create synergies, to support these 30 sports academies in setting up sustainable and impactful projects, and to learn from them too, above all! The future is being played out together”.

Saer SECK – Diambars Institute

“It is not sport that develops a country, but men and women, thanks to the education they receive through sport.