Rwanda/Cote d'Ivoire: Challenges Made Me an Achiever, Says Soccer Star Drogba

10 October 2019

Former Ivorian international football star Didier Drogba has noted that the challenges he faced in life made him take the lead to become a greater achiever and turn his talent into profit, which he initially didn't know was possible.

He said this on Thursday while addressing about 3,000 people mainly youth that gathered at the Kigali Convention Center in a session themed "turning passion into profit", and part of the ongoing Youth Connekt Africa Summit.

The summit that convened over 8,000 young people from across the continent and beyond is being held for the third time at the continental level.

It was an idea that crystallized from the Rwandan own YouthConnekt Summit that has been held annually since 2012.

While giving an inspirational talk to the youth, Ivorian Didier Drogba, a former striker for Chelsea FC and currently a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, said that his successful journey was full of challenges.

"My first challenge was my dad who never wanted me to play football and at that time, no one believed that football can be a source of living. Another thing was the several injuries that affected me often at a young age," he said.

"My other big challenge was the discrimination (in remuneration) that we African footballers abroad used to face in terms of contracts.

When I asked the people in charge, they would tell me that the reason was that I played for an African national team while those paid much were playing for European national teams. I took this as a challenge and committed to proving that Africa is the right place to invest," he added.

Success requires hard work

Drogba said that he was happy when last year he saw the Nike campaign with Nigeria, which sold millions of shirts, noting; "We are looking for respect, but we have to prove why we deserve it. All my life was full of challenges, but the challenges made me take the lead of my life. For you to succeed you need to work hard."

In addition to lucrative contracts that Drogba signed for teams like Chelsea, Galatasaray and many others, in 2017 before retiring he signed for Phoenix Rising FC, a team in the US in which he even owned shares.

Professional athlete Yolanda Ngarambe, who this year made a record in the 3000-meter race, also told youth at the occasion that most of the success stories aren't always linear.

Ngarambe won the 3,000 meters at the 2019 European Team Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

"Most of the success stories aren't linear, because at times you have to go through challenges. But you need to have people around you for support, and make sure you work hard, be patient and believe in yourself," she said.

Drogba also echoed that Africans shouldn't be self-centered and forget their fellow Africans, but instead strive for the development of the continent by investing in it and its people.

The YouthConnekt Africa Summit, which comes to an end today, is targeting to create 10 million sustainable jobs by 2020 in emerging industries, and 25 million opportunities through training and enrolment in workplaces across the continent.

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