Monday 14 January 2019, 14:48

Benin's Squirrels on track for the future

In Benin, there are innumerable opportunities to gather together around football. It is not uncommon to witness scenes of jubilation in the streets whenever the national team - also known as Les Écureuils (The Squirrels) - finds the back of their opponents’ goal nets. Having qualified for three recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, 2008 and 2010, the dream of a first FIFA World Cup™ qualification for the vibrant West African team seems within reach.

To ensure this doesn’t only remain a dream, the member association, with the help of the FIFA Forward programme, is ensuring the development of football gains momentum and new projects keep emerging. To crystallise this impulse, a Football Centre of Excellence (Centre d’Excellence de football du Septentrion) will soon be established in N'Dali, a city in the northern part of the country only six hours away from Porto-Novo the capital.

Covering an area of ​​ten hectares, the new facility will include a gym, three classrooms, a shop, a library and four fully-equipped dormitories with 16 beds to host youth academy training sessions in optimal conditions. In order to allow the teams to train and organise matches, the member association with the support of FIFA’s advisers has decided to set up a synthetic football pitch, another training ground as well as two natural pitches to offer the latest technologies in terms of football pitches.

This multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence of Football will allow the young talents of Beninese football to develop their skills and attract young football lovers from the town of N'Dali and surrounding areas to practice their passion or learn about a new sport. All this will also be done in compliance with international sustainable development standards knowing that the electrification of the site will be composed of solar street lights, a borehole with solar pumps for water supply and for watering the lawn of the two grass fields.

Undoubtedly, the new Centre will boost the confidence of all current and future players in a country of 11 million inhabitants.