Benin, land of esoterism par excellence, was our second destination. Embraced by River Niger, the Republic of Benin is home of voodoo and high spirituality. It has been the hardest trip we have made so far, both for the stuffy weather and the difficulty of crossing the whole country by bus in very few days. As it happened in Ethiopia, the trip had to main aims: sport and solidarity. This former French colony warmly welcomed us for a new adventure full of emotions, companionship and solidarity.
This time, our rival would be the Panthères FC Djougou, one of the best and most popular teams in the Benin Premier League, the country’s first division. After crossing the country side-to-side, just the day after to our landing in the country, the match took place. This was 8th of February 2015. The game was played in the North of the country, in the Natitingoum Stadium. Uncommon in the country, this stadium is made of synthetic grass, with a huge gallery that allowed more than 8,000 spectators enjoy the match, including high-level politicians and well-known personalities from the country. The match had such a big impact in the country that almost all media covered the event and the match was even broadcasted live.
The match had official recognition from the Real Federación de Fútbol Español (RFFE), the Federació Catalana de Futbol (FCF) and the Benin Football Federation.
Playing under 40ºC, this became one of the hardest experiences we had ever lived on a football pitch. However, the amazing welcome we were given by the Panthères supporters made the titanic effort worthy. The welcome parade they had organised for our arrival to Natitingou is something we will never forget.
The Republic of Benin is a sacred land loaded with mystery and energy. A holy place that stimulated our souls.
The game against the Panthères wouldn’t be the only one we were going to play there. Back to Benin’s capital city, Cotonou, we had a much more important commitment.
We there visited a boarding school located in one of the humblest neighbourhoods in the city. Home for boys and girls aged 9 to 14, they give them shelter and scholarship. The children live in a house close to the school. Further than just education, the school promotes values and helps kids develop themselves as human beings through sport. Playing with those children, some of whom extremely talented who will for sure have a career in football, was a difficult-to-describe experience. At the end of the match, we gave them the sport and school goods we had brought for them, something they thanked with songs and dances typical from their region.
Part of the more than 500 kilos of sport and school items carried from Les Franqueses to Benin were donated to Panthères FC Djougou so that their young promises will be able to keep on training to achieve their dreams.