“Mon nom è Massimo Ndolé,” I declare, introducing myself to 50 instructors from across Cameroon. Hilarity ensues – it turns out Ndolé is a typical Cameroonian dish. I’ve just had a JFK moment.
It matters not – Mbalmayo is like a second home to us. Two weeks previously, we kicked off a nation-wide collaboration project between Milan Diocese’s Educational Orientation Centre (COE) and the Cameroonian Sports Centre, run by Francis Kammogne.
There have been innumerable initiatives undertaken in Cameroon to support programmes focusing on the health, integration and schooling of young people. For example, one of the most active projects in this period is an initiative aimed at preventing diseases caused by dirty water. And sport – football – is being used as a catalyst to bring these issues to the attention of children and their families.
Our technical director Alberto and new team of coaches members Davide and Roberto put around 80 children through their paces with engaging, fun training sessions, finishing up with a mini tournament and prizes of biscuits and school books for the winners.
As we near the end of our trip, Joseph Atangana Nzié, who oversees all of the COE’s activities in Cameroon, sets us a new challenge: to work with children incarcerated in youth detention facilities. Alberto and I glance at each other and, without hesitation, say: “We’ll do it.”
Au revoir, Cameroun!