On Wednesday, sporting superstars Didier Drogba and Kylian Mbappé joined French president Emmanuel Macron and Liberia head of state George Weah at the Elysée Palace in Paris to launch a platform that will support sport in Africa.
Investment in sport in Africa
Hosted by Macron, the three sporting superstars, past and present, committed themselves to support a French initiative for transformation through sport in Africa, reported Africanews. With an initial budget of €15 million, the platform will include the construction of infrastructure, the provision of sports facilities and training programs or business start-up aid.
According to Macron, it is “sport, especially football, which has made it possible” to disarm young people after the two Liberian civil war (1989-1997 and 1999-2003). “It’s a way to find a role in society, to rebuild respect, to have real heroes,” said the head of state.
Other guests to the meeting included FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CAF President Ahmad Ahmad.
“Even though I’m French, I have African origins,” - Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé, born in France to a Cameroonian origin father and an Algerian mother, acknowledged that he will invest all of his energy to support the transformation of Africa. "I learned a lot during that lunch. There are many lessons. It's truly a rewarding experience, says the center forward. These are themes that are important to me,” Mbappé told Le Parisien outside of the Elysée Palace.
“Even if I am French, I have African origins. Helping African sport develop is important to me. If I can help through my notoriety or others, I will do it with pleasure. There are many things to do in Africa. I will put all the energy I can to help the maximum. Ongoing projects have been mentioned. It will be for a near future. I can not say too much for the moment but I will invest in this project as best as I can.”
Drogba impressed by Mbappé
On the steps of the Elysée Palace, Didier Drogba told Le Parisien that he was impressed by Mbappé’s mature behavior. His maturity and self-expression were impressive", said the Phoenix Rising player about the 19-year-old PSG striker. "Everything that he said was rational and thoughtful -- he is a breath of fresh air".
Weah’s first official visit
This was Weah’s first official trip outside of Liberia. The 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year, holder of a French nationality, is a key component in Paris’ intentions to revive its bilateral relations with the economically weakened Liberia. Weah, elected President at the end of December, thanked France for a €10 million donation to “face the challenges of a broke Liberia”.