Date & Timestamp : NOV 2012
Posted : admin, 28 November 2012
During the week, Jacques is the director of IT for a government agency, but on the weekend, he’s a football genius. Jacques, along with his best friend and partner, Hamim, run Dream Team Football Academy. They train over 120 children ages 4-18, from both Rwanda and the international community.
Jacques applied for a Social Entrepreneurship competition sponsored by Reach 4 Change and Tigo, a major Rwandan cell phone provider. Dream Team was one of 600 business plans submitted for the competition and Jacques said that “without the BDC knowledge, I wouldn’t have even passed this stage!” The competition organizers narrowed the pool to 12 finalists, two of which were BDC graduates! In the end, Dream Team came won the grand prize – $75,000 USD over three years.
Jacques said that he and his team already have a plan for 3-5 projects that can “help generate revenue so that we can be financially independent and at the same time reach a large number of children using the power of football.”
Dream Team has a powerful model which surely helped them win the competition. There are three permanent and salaried coaches who train students 5 days a week, but there are over 20 former football players in the association. Many, like Jacques and Hamim, coach only on Saturdays. What makes this association unique is two-fold – all played at the national or international level and every one of them has an advanced degree.
This might explain why Dream Team players are required to attend both football practice and school faithfully. “What makes us unique is that we can be role models for them in football and in school,” said Jacques. This focus grew out of an observation that Hamim made during his time on the national team, “When [students] play football, they stop going to school. When they finish their career, they have nothing.”
So what effect will winning this competition have? Jacques shared with us that this award will have an “impact in terms of reputation as well as recognition all over the world. It will help us to grow and make our dream come true. It will help us to achieve what we were unable to achieve due to limited financial resources. Also, it will give us peace of mind so that we can plan and execute our dream without pressure.”
When Dream Team was founded in September 2010, Jacques and Hamim put announcements at a few primary and secondary schools. Over 400 kids showed up that first day to play with just one ball! With the $75,000 Dream Team won, they can buy many more balls and reach many many more children.