Goal Click is a global football storytelling platform, finding people from around the world to tell stories about their football lives and communities. Follow Goal Click on Instagram @goalclick or read more stories at goal-click.com.
In 2020, Goal Click Refugees was launched in partnership with UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency. The ongoing series is collaborating with refugees and asylum seekers around the world to document their stories through football. This is one of those stories.
Goal Click (GC): Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your football life?
Yvan Bikambo (YB): My name is Yvan Bikambo. I am from the East region of Cameroon. I was born in Bertoua where I studied. I left for the Adamawa region in 2014 for university to study sociology and anthropology, but I did not finish due to limited financial resources. For that reason, I returned to Bertoua and began to volunteer and manage community projects. In 2016 I began coaching - I have been coaching for three years and am a coach with Red Deporte. I like to implement and play games with the kids in communities.
GC: Who is in the photos?
YB: These photos reflect the activity of the Public School of Bindia in East Cameroon, a school supported and built by Red Deporte in 2012. These kids belong to the community and many of them are refugees from Central African Republic, because Cameroon and Central African Republic are neighbours. Most of the children know how to play football because they used to play in their home country.
GC: Can you tell us the story of any of the children?
YB: Most of the children do not share their experiences and usually we do not try to make them tell their history. Instead, we work to bring them joy, peace and hope through our programme. Although I noticed that many of the refugee children, when they were asked to draw something from their country, they often drew soldiers and aeroplanes, especially the boys.
GC: What is the story behind these photos?
YB: I tried to spontaneously show the children playing during activities run by Red Deporte. In Africa, children are happy when playing football. There are many beautiful colours and blue skies, which means hope and light to me.
I love to support other people to have a better life and enjoy connecting and sharing with other cultures. I love to make people happy and give a sense of order and flowing of friendship in my daily life.
GC: Do the children play with local Cameroonian people or children?
YB: The primary school of Bindia is a public school where students from refugee families are in majority. In the classrooms, we have both Cameroonian and Central African children. And they play together during breaks. They also meet outside school as they live in the same areas and communities in Mandjou.
In Mandjou the refugees are well integrated into the communities because many of them have developed businesses: selling cereals and vegetables, beef, and household products.
Why is football so important for Cameroon and Cameroonian people?
YB: Every Cameroonian boy dreams to be Samuel Eto’o, but even if they won't be that, they enjoy the dreaming and the process of personal improvement, and the friendship that is built on the way to this dream. Cameroonians love our country and football represents our best ambassador since Cameroon is one of the most successful countries in African football.
Red Deporte promotes sport as a tool for education, health and integration. The refugees came with their families around five years ago. They enjoy community life with their Cameroonian fellows.
GC: What does football mean to you?
YB: For me, the most important thing is football is a way to connect with people, make children happy and it is a tool for learning important things in life. In the future I hope football continues growing and it will be used as an educational instrument for our children and society.
Red Deporte is an NGO which uses the power of sport to empower young people in disadvantaged communities around the world. Working in East Cameroon since 2012, Red Deporte uses football to improve performance at school and promote basic health among children. The photos were taken at the Public School of Bindia in East Cameroon and mainly feature refugee children from the neighbouring Central African Republic. Yvan Bikambo is a coach with Red Deporte.
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