Juventus and UNESCO continued to witness the positive impact of their collaboration during their second full day in the Central African Republic.
Thursday commenced with a visit to the ‘Maison des Jeunes et de la culture’ (Youth and Culture Center) in Boy-Rabe, one of the districts most affected by the conflicts, where violence and insecurity ruled supreme during a crisis that began in 2013.
In a country where 70 per cent of the population is under the age of 25, it is vital that vulnerable children have access to a productive environment where they can learn important professional skills to give them a new start in life.
With the help of UNESCO the center is unravelling ambitious plans to make this happen courtesy of a new education facility open to the entire community, built with the help of youngsters born and raised in the district.
Those on the construction site were already hard at work when David Trezeguet arrived just after 10.00 local time, downing tools briefly to greet someone they would never have imagined to see in person.
Implements were back in hand when the Juventus Legends president was shown the plans in person as he moved around the site, with a library and multimedia center set to offer plenty of stimulation to children who use the facilities on a daily basis.
Sport also has a big part to play in the redevelopment project, with a brand new multipurpose pitch catering for handball, volleyball and football also in the offing.
Recent times may have been tough for the district, but as the Mayor of Bangui, Hyacinthe Wodobode, recounts, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
“We hope the youngsters can move away from violent acts and return to a peaceful life,” she said. “There’s no better way than doing so through education and sport. We hope this place can serve as an example to be followed by the rest of the city of Bangui.”
“This area has had a reputation for violence in recent times but today’s visit of Juventus and UNESCO has shown that this place is accessible. We’d like more people to visit and see the way we’re working to give these children a chance for a brighter future,” Wodobode added.
Another of the stories Trezeguet heard during this morning’s tour was that of Geraud N’Kouet, leader of AS Acadjo, a football academy that aims to get children off the streets and back into a safe and enjoyable environment.
A lover of the beautiful game, Geraud, who played football in France before a knee ligament injury forced him to hang up his boots at a young age, is now dedicating his time to reeducating youths through football, a sport in which respect and discipline are two fundamental lessons to be applied both on and off the field of play.
Despite the issues affecting the practicalities of everyday life in Bangui, Geraud insists the lure of football proves too great to resist, with children going extraordinary lengths to travel and participate in the training sessions he puts on.
His boys were out in force when the delegation moved to the Central African Republic Football Federation, where its president Patrice Edouard Ngaissona extended a personal welcome to UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information Eric Falt and Trezeguet.
Once the meeting had come to its conclusion, Trezeguet emerged from the building to chants of ‘David… Trezeguet’ from Geraud’s academy youngsters, whose enthusiasm was rewarded by T-shirts for each and every player.
Next stop for the troupe was the United Nations base in Bangui where the challenges facing the Central African Republic in gaining lost ground on their African counterparts were discussed with General Babacar Gaye, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative.
Poorly trained teachers and inadequate education structures have resulted in a lost generation and all parties agreed that there is a long way to go before a stable infrastructure is achieved across the nation.
But through the global profile of Trezeguet and the support projects facilitated by Juventus and UNESCO, General Gaye believes important steps have been made towards ensuring the Central African Republic and its problems will not be ignored.