Culture, Religion and Breaking Down Barriers: A Young Woman Chases Her Dreams
By Noah Levine
Fatou Pouye of Senegal, West Africa, has signed to play basketball at South Georgia Technical College in Americus, Georgia for the 2017 – 2018 season, announced South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey. Fatou Pouye is 20 years old, and grew up in a region of West Africa called Kaolack, a city in the south of the country. She lived there with her parents, four brothers, and two sisters.
Here is her story told in her own words: My country is very dedicated to our religion and culture. Almost 90% of the population in Senegal are Muslim. With that, it was really hard to practice sports as a woman. But I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I love which is playing basketball.
After playing with my local club team, I was lucky enough to be part of my national team U16. From there I got a chance to meet one of the SEED (Sports for Education & Economic Development) Academy coaches. After talking to him about the new SEED Girls program, I was interested in going to the famous boarding school to see what it was about.
I was selected to be part of their tryout camp in 2013, and, after I performed well, I was invited to join the school. I was really excited and happy that I finally got a chance to be with other girls that love the game like I do – I didn’t have that before. But, just days later, I found out that my father wasn’t happy about it and didn’t want me to leave home. I was really upset and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Thankfully, my mom helped me and convinced my dad to let me go and chase my dream – which is to get my education and play basketball.
It wasn’t easy to leave my family behind, but I knew that I needed to do it in order for me to achieve my goals. So, I moved to Thies (approximately four hours from Kaolack) and I lived with a host family. Every day I would leave my house to go to school and then to SEED for basketball practice and tutoring. It wasn’t easy to adjust to this new kind of life, but SEED helped me with my studies and basketball training. I hope to one day go back to SEED and help other young women achieve their dreams as well.
After four years of living at SEED and improving my studies and basketball game, I received an opportunity to come to the United States to attend Glasgow Christian Academy (Kentucky) for my senior year of high school. I was a little scared leaving my family behind because I had never left Senegal before, but I looked forward to the opportunity.
I just finished my senior year and I have been given a scholarship to attend South Georgia Technical College in Americus, GA where I will complete my associates degree by 2019. I feel prepared for future success because of the values I learned at SEED. I now have self-confidence, power and an open mind. With all of this, the only thing I can do is succeed, said Fatou.
For more information about the SEED Project (Sports for Education, and Economic Development) visit the SEED project website at: http://www.seedproject.org/donate or to read her story on-line: http://www.seedproject.org/blog/2017/6/29/meet-fatou-pouye.