Men's Basketball

SMU Basketball - Tour d' Africa



Blog - May 29
Head Coach Matt Doherty

"Planting SEEDS"

Today we travelled to SEEDS Academy outside Dakar about an hour and a half away in the town of Thies (pronounced "chess"). S.E.E.D. stands for Sports for Education and Economic Development. This school was started by Amadou Fall who works as the head of international scouting for the Dallas Mavericks. Amadou is from Senegal and like many people from this country; he is passionate about "giving back". Three of our players are products of SEEDS - Bamba Fall, Papa Dia and Mo Faye. We gave a development clinic for kids and coaches. It was a powerful experience to see our three SEEDS alum's and their SMU teammates interacting with the young men and women of SEEDS. The young people were eager to learn as they had great attitudes and work ethic. Afterwards we were fed a nice lunch in the cafeteria and we looked around the campus.

Some things that stood out:

  • dirt roads
  • "sport court" floor in the gym
  • No air conditioning
  • Great attitudes
  • Passion for learning
  • Terrific hospitality

    Many thanks go out to Assane Badji, the Director of Basketball Operations at SEEDS and the Head Coach Idrissa Cissokho. They were terrific in setting this up for us. Their hospitality was awesome.

    About 3:30pm we departed for Pink Lake. It was an hour ride and we arrived to three four wheel open air trucks. We jumped on and were off to tour the biggest beach I have ever seen! We first circled Pink Lake which produces salt. There is a pink tint to the lake, hence the name. We then toured a small local village. The leader of the village welcomed us into his home. He had two wives....and 12 children!! They lived in straw huts. He had one hut for wife #1 and one for wife #2. I was told that he must divide his time between the two huts evenly or their will be trouble, so he spends equal nights in each one!!! Imagine that! He had his private hut, a hut for the kids and a kitchen hut. It was very primitive. He was proud of a makeshift light he had in one hut that was rigged from a flashlight! The kitchen was an open hut with burnt firewood and one pot! There was a well in the middle of the village where everyone went for water. It was an unforgettable experience.

    After that we raced each other up and down sand dunes. It was a blast. At one point we stopped and lined the three trucks up side-by-side for a photo opportunity. Then the funniest thing happened, two street merchants came running up to our trucks and quickly lined up their goods to sell us. Where the heck did they come from in the middle of this huge beach? Those guys are unbelievable! The Senegalese street merchants are the most persistent people I have ever met! They would be great recruiters!!!!

    Then we took to the most spectacular beach I have ever seen. Driving through the water as it reached the beach and seeing the sun starting to set was a wonderful time. We continued to race along the shore until we came upon a big tent, the kind you would picture in a movie that takes place in a desert. As we pulled up I noticed that our dinner was set up inside the tent, low tables set with white plates and clothe napkins, foot stool type cushions to sit on and a buffet set up with a "great spread". However, before we ate we had to continue with some fun. Wrestling is a huge sport in Senegal and the biggest kid on the team, Papa, starting prancing around looking for a challenger. Who jumps out to challenge him, but his old coach! What was I thinking? I don't know, but I was having a blast. I jumped out in the imaginary circle and squared up to Pap. We circled and circled, slapping at each other like they do on TV here. Pap straightened up to take something off and as he turned to place it on the ground I jumped him! I got him by the leg and took him to the sand for the win!!!!! We all laughed and the next match was on!!!! Pap took on Mo and lost again! There were merchants hovering around our tent and one was a pro wrestler....a real wrestler, not the fake kind. We got him out to challenge Pap and Pap lost again!!! 0-3! Malcolm's brother, Douglas, challenged Malcolm to a match. I think the younger brother may have had some pent up frustration going on???? Several other guys wrestled, but the best match was between Jon Killen and Mike Walker. Mike was reluctant to wrestle, but the peer pressure was too strong! He and JK went at it. Mike dropped Jon, but Jon quickly spun him around sending Mike face first into the sand. When Mike got up his face was full of sand, like it was painted on everywhere, but his eyes. After we cleaned him off, the potential nicknames started to fly, "Sandman" and "Sandy" were the best.....I think they will stick!!!!

    Dinner was very good....relaxing and delicious. I had a great feeling about these guys as we really enjoyed the day. After dinner we walked down to the water for a team picture with the sun setting in the background.

    We then drove back towards Dakar for a visit to Mo's house. His family was there to greet us. They even had a birthday cake for Bamba, since his birthday was a few days earlier. We sat around and got to know his parents and two sisters. (He has a brother in Arizona.) Both of Mo's parents are doctors and his three older siblings all graduated from college! It was another great experience as we got to spend time with the family of another player from Senegal.

    We got back to the hotel about 11:00pm. We needed to pack and get ready for the bus to roll at 4am as we fly to Johannesburg in the morning.

    Special thanks go out to the following people for our visit to Senegal:

  • Kine - she set up our trip from the Senegal side, working closely with Malcolm in making sure all the many details were covered. She is a beautiful lady that brings a wonderful personality to every day.
  • Mactar Ndiaye - he is the Director of Marketing at SEEDS. He was with us every step of the way. I highly educated man who loves the young people of Senegal. Mactar is a special man.
  • Barra - our trusty bus driver. He honks his horn with the best NY cabbies I ever saw as he navigated us through the busy traffic of Dakar!
  • Laye - he was our tour guide. Laye was awesome as his English was terrific. He was good at taking care of little things that made the trip special - like the ferry ride to Goree Island and the four wheel rides at Pink Lake. Ironically, his wife is from Rocky Mount, NC. I couldn't believe it!
  • Dongo - he should be an Ambassador for Senegal. He played at the University of Delaware and is still playing professionally in Japan. He had a special touch with everyone he meets.

    Closing thoughts of Senegal:

  • The people are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met.
  • They value family and education a great deal.
  • Senegal has a lot of potential. It has many features that can make for a bright future:
  • Great weather
  • Beautiful coastline
  • Wonderful people
  • Willing workforce
  • Good location with a good airport

    Pony Up!
    Coach Doh

    May 18-24 - Preparation - Class & Practice
    May 25 - Dallas to Dakar, Senegal
    May 26 - First Practice
    May 27 - Visit Goree Island
    May 27 - Game 1 (Senegalese Nat. Team)
    May 28 - Trip to St. Louis (Bamba/Papa's Home)
    May 29 - Clinic 1: at SEEDS Academy
    May 30 - Dakar to Johannesburg, South Africa
    May 31 - Clinic 2: Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre
    May 31 - Tour Pretoria (capital of S. Africa)
    June 1 - Game 3: vs. South African National Team
    June 2 - Tour Soweto
    June 2 - Visit Lesedi Cultural Village
    June 3 - Safari at Pilanesburg Nat. Park
    June 4 - Game 4: South African Club Team
    June 5 - Johannesburg, South Africa to Dallas

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