From “Village Noah” to the Etoudi football club, Yannick Noah multiplies projects in Cameroon

For more than an hour, Sylvestre Bevolo Essomba has been scrutinizing, reframing and encouraging his pupils. On the court of “Village Noah”, the yellow balls fly as much as the advice. ” They are young. For some it’s a game. And there are those who stand out », explains the coach. Joakim, 12, is one of them. “When I see him play, I think of Novak Djokovic, says Sylvestre Bevolo Essomba, an eye on his students. He has his style of play, his hard work and his discipline.. If the Serbian with twenty-two Grand Slam titles is good “the idol” of Joakim, the 6th grade studente dream, him, “especially to win the Roland-Garros one day like Yannick Noah”.

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At the “Village”, located in the Etoudi district of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, some young people, like Joakim, train for free, others pay a monthly subscription. “The important thing for us is to share with these players the love of tennis. Accompany them on their adventure. There is everything here », smiles Sylvestre Bevolo Essomba. A diversity in the image of the place: the hotel complex, planted in a postcard setting with its green gardens, its waterfall fountain and its straw-roofed bungalows, has no less than three tennis courts, a pétanque court , a basketball court, a swimming pool…

Bungalows in “Village Noah”, in Etoudi, Cameroon, in June 2023.

“Yannick Noah has invested a lot of money here”, marvels Charles Foumane, coordinator of the “Village”. On the death of his father in 2017, Yannick Noah inherited his title of village chief of Etoudi and the country club where the complex is located. According to Mr. Foumane, since 2020, he has “ totally modernized the place and it’s not over”. A formidable businessman at the head of several companies in various fields (entertainment, real estate, sport, etc.), the former winner of Roland-Garros is teeming with ideas.

Developing sport in Cameroon

In 2023, he became chairman of the board of directors of Vent d’Etoudi, a second division football club. “I went to see him in February because, to support a football club, you have to have the means. Thirty minutes later he agreed., remembers retired Colonel Akini Benoît, administrator of Le Vent d’Etoudi. Since then, things have accelerated, says the former soldier: players and supporters now have equipment, the club has a headquarters and the development of the stadium has begun. An infrastructure of approximately 2,000 places which will allow the club to generate revenue. “It is financed exclusively by Yannick. He has already spent 120 million Francs CFA »assures the colonel met at the stadium, in the middle of the players and the workers.

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The club’s ambition is to sign a partnership with Le Coq sportif, Yannick Noah’s historic equipment supplier, who also sits on its board of directors. In 2022, the Cameroonian Football Federation (Fecafoot) broke the contract which bound it to the French equipment manufacturer. Since then, the two parties have been in court. “I think Yannick was affected by this sudden breach of contract. He had mobilized to sign Le Coq Sportif at a time when the Lions had no sponsor, recalls one of his relatives. You know, beyond his business, Yannick really wants to develop sport in general in Cameroon and tennis in particular.. »


The ex-champion has experienced many setbacks with his investments, notes the same source: he lost millions of CFA francs in an aborted sports complex construction project, and had a similar experience in the construction of housing. luxury… “Despite all that, he never gives up. He continues to search for the solution. It’s one of his great qualities.”underlines his friend.

At the Yaoundé tennis club, Michel Fondjo, 65, childhood friend of Yannick Noah and current coach of the Cameroon national tennis team, shares the same opinion. “It offers equipment, finances young players like the young nugget Uma Bogso, who is today in one of the largest tennis centers in France”, underlines the former African champion in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. Also, he dresses “free for two years” all the athletes of the Oyebog Tennis Academy with the equipment of Le Coq sportif, specifies Joseph Oyebog, first Cameroonian player registered in the ATP ranking and promoter of the center.

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“I knew Yannick when he was very young. He was talented. When you succeed like him, you can stay in your corner. He wants things to move », greets Joseph Otélé Atangana, first coach of Yannick Noah in Cameroon. The dream of this man born in 1945? May his former student attend his work medals scheduled for June 21 at Ekounou high school, where he served as a supervisor for a long time before retiring.


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