Your project is finally kicking off, how do you feel?
To be honest, I didn’t measure the magnitude of this immense project but at the same time I am very satisfied because up to this moment, we have many students who are registered and this reassures me. There are parents who come to ensure I am really the person running the school and many of them were even satisfied to see that I am the person running the school. We are ready to host students, we have two building, the main building and the annexe which is almost complete, so we are already able to host close to 200 students and it really motivates me to continue. At the level of teachers, we received several application files and what is certain is, I will get the opportunity first hand to see how this experience will look like. There are also many youths who have equally called me from other regions to inquire, notably from the North West Region. We have a partnership that gives us the option to lodge some of these students. I am bit calm but I will really have an idea when everything kicks off.
For a start, do we have some fields that will immediately go operational while others will wait a little bit longer?
We are going to start with fours fields, we had a working session with the academic heads and teachers last weekend and agreed that we will start by welcoming the students, present the modalities and functioning of the institution and presenting them the various topics which we will be working on and see their professional intentions. Together, we will develop some of these topics with them through exchanges in the afternoons. In the morning, we will start with physical preparations to put everybody in the right shape. So they will all start at once but as the weeks go on, they will be sent to their various fields of study. So, the first stage is to bring everybody together and ensure that the field of study they have chosen is the right one. We will then hand them a booklet where they can find the various programmes, timetable and everything about the school.
The world has been seriously affected by the COVID-19, especially the world of sports, did you think of any other eventuality before launching your institution?
Obviously, we thought of that, reason why our classrooms will be spacious and during these first two weeks, we will sensitise our students and staff during these first two weeks.
How often will you be at the institution?
I can assure you that I was at the institution last Sunday until 7pm after arriving early in the morning at 9am.
What makes your institution particular and different from the others we already have?
I will state two or three facts that make us stand out. First, we don’t want to place ourselves above those who have been there already. I consider this venture as a partner to the government in the training related to sports science, commonly called STAPS. We have come in because the need is there and the demand is high. The need is there because we have several schools today with sports teachers and looking at the demand, we have about 3000 applicant for just 100 places available. Secondly, we think we can accompany the youth throughout their studies into their careers and give them the opportunity to integrate into life. I did not just have this opportunity to train sports teachers but to improve Cameroonian sports first and foremost; our objective is to train and provide the opportunity for our students to get a job after their studies. We will work in partnership with sports federations and other structures, where our students will go for internship and why not work there when the need arises. I want to stress that my students will have the privilege to be mentored by a two-time Olympic gold medalist (laughs). When parents get to the institution and meet me, they are reassured and so what I can say is I have a very big vision for this project. My idea was not just to open a school, but to attain an objective-an academic objective for the learners. I have another vision which is to ensure our top-level athletes get a status. If we want to give athletes their rightful place, we must understand what sports is all about, that it is a science with all its components. That is my long-term vision. If I achieve all of these, I think I must have created an impact.
Finally, do we expect to see Françoise Mbango teaching at the institution?
What is certain is, we are going to share experiences, so at this juncture, I will have to share my experiences with the students. I will also invite other athletes to come and share their experiences and these are some of the things that will make the institution stand out. I will invite top foreign athletes to come and share their experiences and the students will be privileged to meet them.