With both the Beveren and Abidjan Academy ventures terminated and giving rise to litigation, the Academy adventure will begin apace not without a sigh or a penny, as in Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, but almost…. This time, Mali and its capital, Bamako, are chosen. Why Mali ? For at least two reasons: We were introduced by a friend, Faouzi, to the new President of the Mali Football Federation who happened to be no other than Salif KEITA, Jean Marc Guillou’s one-time rival with St. Etienne when he played with Angers. And Mali’s potential looked as promising as that of the Ivory Coast. And so an agreement is quickly reached with a Malian club, the Réal de Bamako and recruiting begins in November 2006.
The first players of the First Selection are available but the infrastructure facilities are far from ready.
Building 1 opens its doors to the Academy. The pitch is green but the grass still soft. Regardless, the exciting debut still takes place on the Academy’s new pitch.
First tournament for the First Selection. The friendly Saturday-morning matches have already earned these youngsters a reputation. They face players of 55 kilos with the possibility for each team to include two players of up to 60 kilos. First trophy is won hands down. At the same time, the Ghana youngsters (with no infrastructure to their name and so initially accommodated at Bamako) play their first tournament against players of 40 kilos where the youngest of the First Selection of Mali also lend a hand.
May - July 2009
A tournament is organized to recruit the core of the Second Selection (maximum weight of 35 kilos). The ever-reliable Lambert Amuah brings a team of short-listed players from Abidjan. In September, following this tournament, 11 players, including 5 from Abidjan, make up the core of the Second Selection.
The ground floor of the second building is ready. A dozen youngsters from various academies (Thailand, Algeria, Ghana, Vietnam, Egypt..) visit. Most of them have never met before but, on the pitch, they all speak the same language, the language of the Academy. It is noticed that a greater complicity is forged between the Algerian and Egyptian players despite their respective national teams having recently had rather violent confrontations. It may well be that in the future, the international matches between these two countries will be far more friendly !
The Academy of Belgium players and coaches are in Bamako for a one-month visit. Matches are played with intense fervor but good spirit. An unscheduled tour of the country is organized. The Belgians discover the harsh realities of the land of the Dogons on their way to Mopti, the Venice of Africa. They also discover the power and physical strength of the adults that make up the Malian teams they face.
Matches are still played barefoot in 2010. Many of the First Selection players are about to pass their level-3 technical skills exercises which will enable them to wear studded boots and play in 11-a-side matches.
Another few more years yet and Mali, like the Ivory Coast in 2000, will reach another dimension in football with its first “Académiciens”. However, year after year, the history of football in the Ivory Coast is showing signs of a football that is gradually losing that particular “football-of-the-Academy” dimension. The major deterioration of the game and the disenchantment of the public vis-à-vis the local teams paint a gloomy anticipation of what will likely happen to its national team in 4 years’ time.
Since August 2007, it has been three and a half years that the first residents came in and just over a year since the second class joined them. We have extended the work of the second building in order to recover a few thousand square meters of slab and for this study the coverage in the form of a cylinder portion and our brigade maintenance has been commissioned to undertake the heavy work. These major works are underway and the goal is to achieve coverage before the next rainy season. This rain as usual, after the heavy heat from March to April, coming in May-June and last until September.
We hosted a great tournament from 30 to 34 kg for year-end recruiting the core of the promotion 3. There are about 50 teams have registered. Mamadou Wad, Professor, will be a big job and multiple databases to segment the competition before reaching the best 14 teams divided into two groups. 4 months later, after a last championship with the top 8 teams, eight boys were selected to form the first three cores of this promotion.
The year began with in perspective, for the first promotion, a first tournament outside of Mali. Participation in this tournament was conditional on completion of specific objectives for each element of promoting a level degrees. These objectives were not achieved and in addition to errors in the dates of passports we are made void that entry. Fortunately, for a few days later we learned that Mali was shaken by a coup no longer possible to obtain the necessary visas. For the first time, some boys of the first class training in an academy, taking advantage of the absence of JMG, allowed themselves to be unwilling disappointed not to participate in this tournament. The Return of JMG will certainly cause some gnashing of teeth ...