Terres en Mêlées, training future champions of sustainable development through rugby in Africa

New episode focusing on the structures highlighted as part of the #MoveForYouth challenge. While a major African festival of rugby for development was held at the end of last year, we wanted to put a spotlight on the Alafia programme carried out by the Terres en Mêlées association, by taking a look at the journey of one of its beneficiaries.

Terres en Mêlées beneficiairiess

What is a young girl from a disadvantaged neighbourhood of the city of Tulear, in the southwest of Madagascars, going to learn from playing rugby?  What Mariana did not know was that her educator had been trained by the Terres en Mêlées association, where rugby is only a pretext that allows us to answer the question: how can we use sport to train citizens?

The educator had an inspiring approach. He gave her time, he valued her, and he made her work hard. It’s true that this coach does not have the typical perspective of a sports coach, since he has also taken courses on reproductive health, positive masculinity, gender equality, the empowerment of young people, sports entrepreneurship, and raising awareness around the protection of biodiversity.

We’re not aiming to make you top-level athletes,” he explains. “We want to train future champions of sustainable development through sport in Africa.

Martin, educator trained by Terres en Mêlées

Mariana decided to become more involved. This is a very important step for Terres en Mêlées, since it symbolises the transition from a practice imposed by the school to a voluntary decision to go further.  She then found herself involved in a programme called Alafia, which means "peace" in many West African dialects. This initiative aims to spread a culture of peace, living together and non-violence. Among other things, Mariana learned about the issue of gender equality and the emancipation of women, which enabled her to take action to prevent various acts of violence around her. Even if she had not come initially for this purpose, Mariana found herself selected to become the captain of her team. They went on to become two-time champions in Madagascar. It was a proud moment for the young girls who returned victorious from their match in the capital.


Terres en Mêlées has been involved in the field for 11 years now, and has collected many of these stories of transformation. 42 educational and sports structures have flourished in Africa, allowing 368 educators to work with 26,790 beneficiaries. The festival, which will be held from December 19 to 23, is a celebration of the work accomplished and an invitation to continue with as much determination as ever.  Pierre Gony, founder of Terres en Mêlées, long dreamed of being able to organize this festival in Togo. Now, the Societe Generale Foundation's #MoveForYouth initiative has made this possible. The project is expanding and will take place in three countries simultaneously: Burkina Faso, Togo and Madagascar.

"This will allow us to carry out a whole year of field actions in schools in order to bring together all audiences, partners, etc. It will also allow us to spread our messages on a large scale,” explains Pierre, who hopes to see many Group employees mobilize to coach the teams on the launch day. Each team has prepared a song, dance, choreography and traditional outfits to share their culture with the other teams. In Madagascar, for example, seven ethnic groups will meet and play against each other before mingling in inter-ethnic teams. With this festival, the Alafia programme is more than ever living up to its name: peace.