The French startup “French Sport Tryouts” (FST) is encouraging young Lebanese athletes to join their “Search Your Team” platform in order to connect them with trusted professionals who are looking for sports recruits.
The “SearchYourTeam” platform is intended to enable young athletes around the world who dream of playing football professionally to be recruited in Europe or the USA without being cheated by false recruitment agencies.
The aim is to put an end to the exploitation of young athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds and to protect them from human trafficking, modern slavery and possibly from death.
According to FST, the platform is now trying to “expand and gain a foothold in Lebanon, as it is in a tough economic and social crisis. Lebanese youth [are] To have no more chances every day, especially athletes. “
After talking to three Lebanese athletes who are passionate about football, French Sport Tryouts realized that the options in Lebanon are limited.
“There is no future in [soccer] If you want to join a reputable club or even get a chance here in Lebanon, you need to have connections. Corruption is deeply rooted [soccer]. It’s all political, there is no funding and no dollars, ”said Joseph from Zgharta, who joined their platform.
When asked if he knew of any local organization that offers sporting opportunities to go abroad, he said, “No, not at all, I spoke to this guy once who promised what you promised and it became a huge scam . ”
The same applies to two girls from Tripoli, Maria Chedid and Stéphanie Kheir, who expressed that women’s teams are generally more neglected than men’s teams, especially in Lebanon.
“I would like to have the opportunity to go abroad to pursue a professional football career as the opportunities are very rare in Lebanon,” said one of the girls.
From humble beginnings
The founders of this platform, Wesley Mukerinkindi and Gaetan Ekoondo, both came from Central African countries (Rwanda and Congo DRC) and dreamed of sport. As children, they escaped poverty and war in their home countries and changed their lives through sport.
They had amazing opportunities to play in Europe and later continued their studies in the US by playing soccer. Gaetan received a scholarship from Harvard University and Wesley received an athletic scholarship from Utah State University Eastern.
With their platform “SearchYourTeam” they were able to give many young and talented athletes the same opportunity.
With the support of the Lebanese-French Patrick Karam, the regional advisor of Île-de-France and general inspector for youth and sport, Wesley and Geatan were able to enter into a partnership with the Paris Olympic Committee (CROSIF).
“I felt we had to do something for the players in Lebanon, like Joseph, who took part in our juggling challenge with our partner Nyron Wau (former professional player for the Dutch D1 team at PSV Eindhoven),” said Wesley opposite The961.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Mr. Karam. He opened many doors for us and we are very grateful for that. For this reason, we wanted to help student-athletes from his home country Lebanon and give them priority opportunities of what they really deserve when it comes to crises, poverty, corruption, etc., ”he added.
Young participants simply need to send video résumés of themselves playing and demonstrating their skills. The platform acts as an intermediary between players and trustworthy coaches, clubs or universities.
In addition, FST is currently expanding globally and is in the middle of talks with the United Nations on Luigi Limone and Ilias Chatzis (Head of the Anti-Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)).