French footballer Kylian Mbappé upon his arrival at Yaoundé airport, Cameroon, July 6, 2023. DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP
Kylian Mbappé arrived Thursday July 6 in Cameroon, the country of origin of his father, Wilfrid Mbappé. As soon as he left the private jet that took him from the United States to Yaoundé, the captain of the French football team was greeted by a joyful public. Airport staff, men, women, dance groups, family members… shouting his name loudly, everyone wanting to touch him or take a selfie with him.
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Smiling, the 24-year-old approached them, greeted them. The police and their bodyguards struggled to extract him from the crowd. His procession then moved to a school which welcomes children with hearing impairments and which has received funding from the foundation of the Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) striker. The 2018 world champion shared a game of football with children who were visibly happy with his visit.
Far from the Parisian tumult, Kylian Mbappé will spend three days on Cameroonian soil, staying at Village Noah, the hotel complex of former tennis player Yannick Noah. On Friday, his program includes a meeting with the Prime Minister. On Saturday, he will go to Douala to visit another school financed by his foundation, before going to the island of Djébalè, where his father is from. “Because here, the normal circuit of life is that we start from the roots to the fruit, and a fruit that falls, it will always sprout again through the roots”explained Philippe Mbappé, his grandfather, to journalists.
“I can’t stand still”
For many Cameroonians, the arrival of the athlete is a “recognition for the country of his ancestors”. “Even though he plays for France, he has half Cameroonian blood in his body. Coming to the land of one’s ancestors is always a blessing. He came to receive the blessing of his ancestors, the blessing of his country,” explains Roger Sylvain Tagne, carpenter in Douala. For this FC Barcelona fan, the arrival of the champion will also allow young people to “dream big”. “Mbappé is an extraordinary player and I hope he leaves PSG for good. All the young people I know are inspired by him. He expresses himself well, he has no scandal, he is a model for young people.assures Sonny, an apprentice carpenter.
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At Le Vent d’Etoudi, a second division football club in Yaoundé, the players and management have only one objective: to get the most advice and motivation from Kylian Mbappé. They will play a gala match with the French prodigy this Friday. Club midfielder Passy Atangana is looking forward to spending time with this “leader of men” of which he watches almost all the championship matches of France or the Champions League. “I can’t stand still”, he confides. For him, playing with PSG’s top scorer is a “offering”, but also the opportunity to glean some advice for his future career.
“Seeing Mbappé is a dream, and when we say dream, they hope that one day they can be like him”, emphasizes retired colonel Benoît Akini, administrator of Le Vent d’Etoudi, who claims to be “very happy and honoured” of Kylian Mbappé’s visit. A shared joy. In a video posted on social networks, the player can be heard responding to a person who asks him if this is his first visit to Cameroon: “It’s not the first time, but I’m very happy. »