The Diambars have shown what it means to achieve excellence in the game of football. Their success has sent up a yellow card of caution to all other footballers, similar to how referees use a yellow card to caution players. Will other academies and teams pay attention to how the Diambars team became a winner? How can the methods of the Diambars transform the quality of the teams in Senegal and in Africa?
Students outside the Diambars F.C. home in Senegal
It was in November 2003 that the Diambars academy’s first class started in Saly, Senegal. By February 2009, the pro club (composed of the players of the academy) was created and swiftly reached the local pro-league in 2011. In 2013, Diambars F.C. won the Senegal Football League Championship for the first time, which was a terrific achievement for the young players. This remarkable win, in only the tenth anniversary of the group, was facilitated by great training conditions and coaching. Congratulations are due to Jimmy Adjovi-Boco (former defender of french team RC Lens), Bernard Lama (former French Goalkeeper), Saher Seck (Senegal Football League President) and Patrick Vieira for the team’s reaching this important milestone. The achievement is all the more remarkable in that the academy’s best players have already been contracted by European clubs in Europe. After the ASEC Sifcom “academeciens” success in 2000, the Diambars team is yet another young, locally trained team of talented footballers. What are the lessons in this milestone for Senegalese and African football?
The first lesson is that Africa clearly has the capacity to foster quality players. Further, that Africans can provide good youth coaching and suitable training conditions. Quality players can be developed through patient and appropriate teaching.
State of the art facilities at the Institute of Diambars F.C. in Senegal
The second lesson is about the current condition of Senegalese clubs. It is a sad commentary that such young, relatively inexperienced players were able to challenge and beat the more experienced players of other clubs. This situation does not speak well of the overall quality of Senegalese pro-leagues.The young Diambars team already has most of the local players who are called for the national team and the U17, U20, and other U23 national teams. The desire to build the Senegalese national team around these young players has become a reality. As this goal is accomplished, it will provide extraordinary recognition for the academy and its training capacity.
Idrissa Gueye and Pape Souare. 2 former Diambars F.C students now playing in the English Premier League and the Senegal National Team
But should a national football team surf on the success wave of one football academy? Certainly it is legitimate that Senegalese national football teams capitalise on the Diambars’ success. If they want a quick way to build quality selections (such as European base players), then riding on the Diambars wave is a recipe for rapid victory.
The Diambars are exemplary, a model of training and coaching that many other existing clubs should emulate. The football league, federation, and the ministry of sport should all look at the Diambars’ success. They should support and facilitate use of the Diambars’s method in other Senegal football teams. They should figure out how to reproduce that method. Perhaps they can figure out how to do so at a lower cost, but still keep the core of the method: quality coaching and training.
Birds eye view of Diambars F.C. facilities
The success of ASEC Sifcom “academicians” in 2000 was the first example of a successful academy in Côte d’Ivoire. But that success story did not lead to a structural transformation of football in Côte d’Ivoire. It would be a waste if what the Diambars have developed also goes unheeded by other clubs. Without a diffusion of the Diambars’ approach, their success will not create the traction and transformation needed in African football. Thus incorporating the Diambars’ methods should be the goal for all Senegalese football teams, from which they will surely benefit.
Unquestionably, Africa has the capacity to achieve excellence in the game of football. It has been shown that a club or an academy can achieve such excellence. The question is how to achieve and then sustain that quality collectively and on a large scale, beyond just one academy or club.