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Fencing and Restorative Justice Program
In the approach to the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal’s capital city will also host the first ever sport and development summit on African soil. From November 5-7, the Sport Impact Summit will facilitate interaction between young people and top-level athletes, as well as a wide range of people involved in sports and development. The event will also explore the increasingly important links between the worlds of sports and development.

During the New Africa-France Summit in Montpellier in October 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated the role of sports as “a driver of economic and social development in Africa”. Two years on, the Sport Impact Summit is being organized by the eponymous pan-African hub, Sport Impact in partnership with UNESCO and the Senegalese authorities.

The event will feature a whole raft of events, from plenary conferences and round tables with decision-makers from the private sector, the public sector and civil society, to workshops and sporting challenges involving young people and top-level athletes.

See also: Sport and development: AFD actions captured in one graph

Visits to sports facilities will also be organized to highlight four projects and events showcasing AFD Group's support for sporting activities:

1. Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games: A catalyst for the youth

The fourth Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will be held in Dakar, host city of the first Olympic event to be organized on African soil.

In November 2022, AFD Group granted a €45 million loan to the Senegalese Government to assist in organizing these Games. This financing will help in the renovation of two facilities that will host the Olympic events - the Iba Mar Diop stadium and the Olympic swimming pool - as well as the rehabilitation or construction of local sports facilities. The overarching goal is to make this a sustainable event for the continuing benefit of local communities and youths, with a special focus on engaging more women in sport and bolstering the development of local talent.

Paris 2024 – an AFD partner – and Dakar 2026 have also signed a deal to strengthen cooperation and synergies between the organizing committees.

See more on our efforts to promote sports


2. Pour un sourire d’enfant – “For the smile of a child”: Fencing to build self-esteem in young prisoners

Since 1989, Pour un sourire d’enfant has been helping young people from vulnerable and law-breaking backgrounds to reintegrate into society. The association has developed an AFD-sponsored and innovative methodology known as Escrime et justice réparatrice (Fencing and Restorative Justice).

By introducing fencing as a sport in prison, this project promotes a novel psychotherapeutic approach, derived from extensive experience in the field of juvenile justice. Fencing as a discipline builds concentration, interaction and respect for the opponent, the referee and the rules. This helps young people to regain their self-esteem and control their emotions. In ten years, almost 500 young inmates have taken up fencing and none have re-offended (link in French).

Key project objectives: 

  • Promote alternatives to street life and detention for 5,000 young people; Prepare them for release from prison and break the cycle of repeat offending.
  • Make fencing a tool to generate social cohesion.
  • Encourage young people to speak out and be creative in order to reduce gender inequalities.
  • Build the psycho-educational capacities of prison staff and specialist educators responsible for minors.

3. Seed Academy: Training tomorrow’s leaders with basketball

Founded in 2002, the SEED Academy (Sports for Education and Economic Development) in Thiès (Senegal) is the first basketball student-athlete academy in Africa, and uses basketball to empower and build the employability of young people. Each year, the Academy takes in 40 student-athletes, boys and girls, from the first to the final year of secondary school. Throughout their school career, participants blend academics and basketball.

“Basketball is merely a pretext," says Alioune Chimère Diouf, Head of SEED Academy. “The reality is that studies are the priority. We want to empower these girls and boys to succeed. We want to train them to be leaders in many fields.”

The Academy is among the institutions supported by the Program for the Reinforcement of Inclusive Sports Academies in Africa.

“SEED Academy has instilled values in us, such as team spirit, self-confidence and “Ubuntu”, which means treating your team mates as yourself,” says Gina (16 years) is in sixth form (12th Grade in the US), and has been an athlete at SEED for last three years. “My dream is to be the greatest player in the world, to make my mother proud, to play for the national team and to change my country.”

SEED Academy
SEED Academy students © Tala Niang / AFD

The SEED Project NGO , an association committed to education through sport and an originator of the Academy, will also be running the Basketball Experience program in Senegal, in partnership with the NBA. The aim of this project is to develop a basketball education program in schools and renovate local sports facilities. Launched in Morocco and Nigeria, its rollout in Guédiawaye and Saint-Louis in Senegal is expected for the end of 2023.

Two Academy youngsters have been selected to take part in the Campus Alley-oop Africa program, a TV series that follows the careers of 20 young basketballers from seven African countries brought together in a basketball academy. 

See also: Sports for Peace and Development

4. “Dakar Sacré-Coeur”: Football for solidarity

Dakar Sacré-Coeur is an association founded in 2005 by Franco-Senegalese players from the world of football, the private sector and charity organizations, all united in their belief in Africa’s immense sporting potential and its likely impact on development. Dakar’s Sacré-Coeur football club offers residents of neighboring districts access to high-quality sports pitches and programs.

The club operates a threefold activity:

  • Solidarity sports: The club’s sociocultural inclusion policy, including preferential or free rates for football training courses; educational and cultural initiatives focusing on issues such as gender equality and physical disabilities. 
  • Professional football: Two professional men’s and women’s teams in Senegal’s elite championship. The club’s training center has more than 50 players aged between 15 and 18; three pre-training teams of 34 players aged between 10 and 15 are beneficiaries of “talent grants”.
  • Recreational sports: Pitches rented for amateur players. These activities are the club’s main source of income, generating steady funding that is reinvested in development projects linked to football.