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24.03.2009 14:30

Bamako, more with Barça than ever

Marc Parramon (special correspondent)

Today, player Seydou Keita and president Joan Laporta have inaugurated the first XICS centre in Mali. This centre in Bamako is the biggest yet in the Network of Solidarity Centres.

Joined by president Joan Laporta, director general Joan Oliver and the director general of the Foundation Marta Segú, along with several Malian ministers, Seydou Keita was the host as the biggest XICS centre so far, covering 12,695 m2, was inaugurated.

Warm welcome in Bamako

The Barça expedition arrived at 9.00 am in the district where the new XICS centre is to be located, Téléphone Sans Fil in Bamako, where there were temperatures of over forty degrees. The streets of the city were packed with people keen to see the opening of a much needed centre in such a devastated area of the Malian capital.

Almost 400 people

mali1.jpgThere were some 400 people in total, who were especially keen to get a look at the Barça delegation, and especially national hero Seydou Keita. Two of the country’s ministers, those for solidarity and for education, were also at the official presentation. They were joined by the president of the local Football Federation, Salis Keita, as well as different members of the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID); and representatives of the Spanish Embassy in Mali.

Fifth XICS centre in Africa

President Joan Laporta spoke about how important it is for his Foundation to be able to open this new centre in Africa. “We have 12 XICS centres and 5 are in Africa. Once more we can show how sport is an excellent tool and instrument for social inclusion”, he said, and personally thanked Seydou Keita for coming along to such an important event for the club.

Emotional for Keita

Keita said Barça’s implication in his country was something very special to him. “It is an honour that Barça’s Foundation is working in Bamako to promote education and make it possible for children from here to be future lawyers, architects...”

Very complicated situations

mali6.jpgThe beneficiaries of this centre will include Habida Diarra, a 14 year old girl who has an 11-month old son and will also be bringing her baby to the XICS centre. “My grandmother looks after me. Thanks to this centre, I’ll be able to study and get a job and be able to look after my son”, said an emotional Habida to the website and Barça TV.

Bassoma Samake, a teacher at the centre, underlined the idealness and necessity of this space in such a needy neighbourhood. “This is magnificent day for all of the children of Bamako” he said.
Bamako, more with Barça than ever

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The biggest XICS
This new centre will be supporting almost one hundred children aged between 7 and 16 years in vulnerable situations. The construction of the XICS Mali centre started in June 2007 and started operating in November 2008. The land is the property of the Comunne II Council in Bamako and has been leased on an indefinite basis to the Foundation. It has a surface area of 12,695 m2, which makes XICS Mali the biggest centre to have been promoted by the Foundation so far.

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