Skip to main content

Introducing rugby to Burundi

Monday 26 May 2014
#living together

From 26 to 30 May 2014, two rugby ambassadors, Pierre Rabadan (Stade Français) and Salim Tebani (US Oyonnax), visited Burundi with our teams. They participated in the training of our local animators in the practice of rugby, their sport was until then unknown.


We invite you to immerse yourself in stories and photos during their stay with the local populations.


On the rivers of Lake Tanganyika, near Bujumbura, here are some Cree words and lots of laughter. It is Monday, May 26. That very morning, Pierre Rabadan and Salim Tebani, our ambassadors of luxury rugby, set foot on African soil. Their mission: to introduce rugby to the displaced people's camps in Buterere. But to get there, a first step, mandatory: former Burundian animator at the bases of ovaly. On the burning sand, the orange and black SSF t-shirt, on their shoulders, there are about thirty of them. On the menu: twisted, mixed and key passes. The atmosphere is beautiful: a group photo.


Back at PLAY International headquarters in Bujumbura, we get hydrated before embarking on the next task: creating an educational game inspired by the principles of rugby. Our two ambassadors discover "Playdagogy", or how to do prevention in a fun way. The sharing of experience is in both directions: this time, it is our two rugby players who are listening attentively. We agree on the theme "Gender: Knowing the different forms of discrimination and its effects". "They were impressed, that's for sure," smiles Caroline Therrien, PLAY International's head of mission in Bujumbura for the past two and a half years." I think they didn't expect us to use rugby to raise awareness on such topics." Once the game is created, go to Buterere for a practice with the children.


The refugee camps were set up following the floods that affected the municipalities in northern Bujumbura last February. During the night of February 09 to 10, 68 people died, washed away by heavy rains and mudslides. Nearly 12,000 people were also affected, and as a result, they lost everything. In one of the Buterere camps, with about a hundred children, we don't know what to do with their days. "The children are a very good audience: they are always very disciplined, they listen well to the instructions, we specify Caroline Therrien. There has never been a problem in this camp. They look forward to sports activities because they allow them to meet the world from the other side and play like all other children. "Activate 2008, PLAY International, supported by UNICEF, set up socio-sports activities to liven up their daily lives, make social life in the camps and learn while having fun." 28,000 children were able to benefit from these programmes in 2013.


The facilitators explain the importance of the warm-up. Salim gets caught up in the game. In the middle of the children, the Algerian international jumped like everyone else. Curious approached to see this funny sport where the ball is not round. Pierre's brownish brown hair quickly became the attraction of the moment. After these first moments of meeting, the children started, with seriousness and desire. We even surprise attempts at racketing. For their part, they are not respected with Manuel Herrero's camera, who came to accompany our two athletes for a report on the New Explorers (broadcast in November on Canal +). They are asking to be photographed.


After several hours of activities, our two rugby players, exhausted by the heat, are surprised by the endurance of the children. Especially since they really play, while they're in tennis. Pierre had already been supported by PLAY International volunteers during previous missions in Kosovo. "This is the first time in my life that I have found myself in such a poor environment...", he explains. For his part, Salim seems very moved. "It touches me, somewhere it reminds me of my Algeria... I have children too. I think about them a lot," he says. It's a great life lesson, something you keep forever. Later, on the crossroads Pierre with a drum on his head. Béatrice Avignon, also from the trip, immortalize these moments. Her photos will also be used in the five-page article she is writing for L'Equipe Magazine, which will be released on July 19. "We have intense moments," smiles Pierre. The Troisième Line of Stade English takes advantage of these few hours between the return to France. He's photographing a hippopotamus. For her part, Béatrice Avignon tweete: "Burundi is also that."


We would like to thank Pierre Rabadan and Salim Tebani for accepting the mission we proposed to them.

Thanks also to Béatrice Avignon and Manuel Herrero. 

We would like to thank our strategic partner of the Pays de la Loire Regional Council and UNICEF for their support, support and assistance.