No African football team had ever reached the semi-finals in a World Cup. That is until this year, when Morocco faced France on the pitch in Qatar. The Atlas Lions have paved the way for new generations of top athletes from African nations, buoyed with hope for clinching football’s top trophy.
Pilot academies for future leaders
In the wake of World Cup excitement, and using its "Sport and development" strategy, AFD is helping to prepare the ground for future sporting exploits to support the implementation of social cohesion, and using sport to develop more sustainable and inclusive societies.
The Lead Academy Morocco is one of four pilot academies supported by AFD’s Sport and Development team. Announced by President Emmanuel Macron during the New Africa-France Summit in 2021 and launched in Senegal last October, this is one of the major sports projects for the year 2023.
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It allows AFD to mobilize €250 000 to strengthen the capacities of the Lead Academy in the areas of education, gender mainstreaming and strengthening the economic model. With this in mind, a consortium made up of the NGO Play International (a subsidiary of the SOS group) and the Diambars Institute (a pioneer in Africa in the creation and management of sport-education academies) is responsible for supporting the projects of the academies through the allocation of subsidies and a dedicated support system.
Launched in 2019 and based in El Mansouria (near Mohammedia), the Lead Academy Morocco provides academic and sports training as well as life skills workshops to a panel of girls and boys aged 8 to 18, representing a cross-section of communities. It is obviously a question of bringing out a new elite of Moroccan football, but also training the next generation of progressive leaders.
Football opening new avenues
This Moroccan academy is part of the Lead Africa network, which provides access to new opportunities for disadvantaged young people in several countries on the continent, on and off the pitch. Student athletes benefit from two hours of sports training per day. The academy offers comprehensive sports programs based on creative and innovative techniques.
Attentive to the need to stay close to the field with micro-projects, AFD is also committed to the Imilchil Valley. Alongside the NGOs Sens and Akhiam, the AFD Group supports the project “Sport at the service of development and the fight against abuses among young people (drugs and radicalization)”.
Led by the European Raid Guild (an NGO specializing in the management of micro-projects), it benefited in 2020 from an AFD grant of €19,000 as part of the 2nd session of the call for “Sport and development” projects.
This provides a response to the spread of unemployment, exclusion from school and the lack of sports facilities and gymnasiums in 10 targeted villages. The goal? Prevent the emergence of drug addiction and alienation among young people, and contain the influence of extremist religious groups on social networks.
And who knows, maybe help inspire future world champions…