- Congolese National
- Previously played for AS Monaco, Blackburn, AS Roma, etc
Shabani Nonda Foundation
The award of the FIFPro Merit Award to the Shabani Nonda Foundation was greeted with a standing ovation at the FIFPro Congress in Budapest last November. For some ten years now, Shabani has been dedicating his fame and his energy to organizing a football tournament unlike any other in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
'Without the volunteers who work throughout the year, there wouldn’t be a tournament', stressed the DRC’s international striker when he visited the UNFP offices in Paris last Wednesday to pick up his prize, a cheque for 25,000 dollars.
It’s no secret to anyone that the former Stade Rennes and AS Monaco player wants to come back to France to finish off his brilliant career, which has taken him to Italy (AS Roma), England (Blackburn Rovers) and recently Turkey (Galatasaray).
'This tournament was born of a memory and an observation. When I was young, the school holidays were usually synonymous with boredom. My buddies and I had nothing to do, other than all those silly things one does at that age. Fortunately, some football tournaments that were organized here and there helped us shake off our lethargy. Those were genuine moments of shared pleasure and joy, but they were all too rare.'
Keeping young people busy for a few days wasn’t enough for Shabani Nonda : 'Absenteeism from school is a massive problem in our country. Yet we all know that children who have attended school, who can read, write and count correctly, are better prepared to face the future, even if they don’t go on to pursue lengthy study. Our initiative, during and at the end of the tournament, obviously doesn’t resolve all the problems, but it helps remotivate a lot of boys, restoring their taste for study. They are visibly more receptive, or at least that’s the opinion of some parents, who encourage us and are asking us to expand the scope of our activities.'
Using football - their passion - to encourage children to get back on track at school, to give them the power to stick at it and take it as far as possible, that’s the goal of Shabani Nonda and his Foundation. At the end of the tournament, the prizes awarded to the young people are such as will encourage them to become good students at school: exercise books, pencils, school uniforms, bags etc.
'It would be ideal', Shabani acknowledges in conclusion, 'to extend the experiment to cover the whole country. At present, we are working with the 24 districts that form the urban centre of Kinshasa, and we can’t go beyond that. It’s a matter of resources, financial on the one hand, human on the other, because all of our voluntary workers are already giving up a lot of their time. I’ll see what we’ve been able to do once my career is over, but I know that some of my teammates could take up the idea on their own account in other cities of our country. And that would suit me fine.'