Football legend Patrick Vieira held a special reception at the SAS Radisson Blu Gauteng to raise awareness for his African football charity, Dimabars.
The Diambars (meaning Champions) Academy aims to give talented young footballers from Viera’s native Senegal an opportunity to follow in his rags-to-riches footsteps by honing their football skills whilst gaining an education, with the ultimate dream of joining top-flight football.
(Left: Partick Vieira with Lindiwe Kwele, Johannesburg Tourism Company chief; Peter Kwele, Head of SABC’s 2010 Broadcasting; plus friends)
A number of Miss World finalists also attended the VIP reception at the hotel.
(Patrick Viera with the Miss World finalists who are cheering on their respective teams at the FIFA 2010 World Cup)
Patrick Viera epitomises the African football dream. He was raised in poverty in Senegal but has become one of the most celebrated names in football. He was a key member of France’s legendary 1998 World Cup winning squad, and has won numerous honours at club level with Arsenal, Juventus and Inter Milan, and currently Manchester City.
But his iconic status is not only due to his skill as a footballer. Vieira never forgot where he came from and he wants to give as many Senegalese children as possible a chance of repeating his rags-to-riches story.
(Patrick Viera with Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards; David Falcon, Senior Vice President, World Travel Awards)
In 2003 Vieira laid the first foundation stone for the Diambars football academy. Seven years on the academy has gone from strength to strength with over one hundred Senegalese youngsters from the ages of 13 to 18.
“The academy is about using a passion for football as a driving force for education,” Viera said.
The children are trained on decent sandy pitches, attend academic classes every morning and live in rooms with proper walls, sanitation and lighting.
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The academy has good contacts in Europe, and even if a player makes the grade and joins a professional club, Vieira and his staff will monitor their progress and continue to provide protection and guidance.
Vieira left Senegal for Paris when he was eight and knows that his career benefited from a good education and other opportunities. In Senegal however some 70 percent of children never see a classroom.
Diambars Football Academy