Shooting hoops at Senegal’s Seeds Academy

In Senegal, a basketball academy has been fighting for 10 years to provide an education for youngsters passionate about the sport.

Hard work, discipline — and the orange ball — are at the heart of the Seeds Academy, set up by the vice-president of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Amadou Gallo Fall, who is in charge of developing the sport in Africa.

The Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal Academy — to give it its full name — is based at the National Centre of Physical and Sporting Education (CNEPS) in Thies, 70 kilometres (43 miles) east of the capital Dakar.

Here, timekeeping is a serious business, said the centre’s manager Assane Badji while waiting for the bus that takes the students back to school for lunch.

“When they see me as they get off the bus, they know that they shouldn’t hang about,” he added standing outside the entrance to CNEPS.

“It’s important. They should all know that they don’t have the time to play around and discipline starts by respecting the timetable.”

Respect and discipline are two values advocated by the academy’s founder Amadou Gallo Fall, a 49-year-old Senegalese who himself benefitted from a push in the right direction at the end of the 1980s.

At the time, he was a student basketball player in Tunisia and was noticed by an American, allowing him to go and study to the United States.

His career as a player was cut short at university by a wrist injury but he managed to find a job at the heart of the US basketball league, the NBA.

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