SEATTLE — In an astonishing World Cup that some are calling the best ever, the real winners are the children from impoverished suburbs of Paris. The World Cup has given hope to these impoverished children, as France won its second ever World Cup title on July 15, 2018, in a 4-2 defeat over Croatia, with French teenager Kylian Mbappe becoming the star of the tournament.
At just 19, Mbappe has inspired the younger, impoverished generation and has instilled belief, particularly in his hometown of Bondy, that they too can break out of the vicious and stifling cycle of poverty. Bondy, a suburb of Paris, France is packed with social housing, has a high unemployment rate and few opportunities. It seems that in these banlieues, or the suburbs on the outskirts of Paris, life is often stacked against its residents, as past French governments have continuously failed to address the poverty issues in Parisian suburbs.
These banlieues have been subject to countless terrorist attacks and riots, and some have even been labeled as “no-go areas”. The negative associations with living in these banlieues have led to stereotypes of the residents, resulting in discrimination that prevents them from receiving fair opportunities. Yet, these banlieues have given the French national squad a number of star players, including Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Anthony Martial, Moussa Sissoko and Kingsley Coman, to name a few.
Young Players Cite Mbappe as an Inspiration
One boy from AS Bondy Football Club told Al Jazeera: “People think everyone in the suburbs is scum, but that is not true. [The national team players] came from misery like us and now they are successful. All the big players come from the suburbs. Like Sissoko, who played for France, he came from the same neighborhood as me and he’s not scum. He pays his way.”
A student at the Jean Renoir School in Bondy told The Journal Times that “to see this guy from Bondy, like us, it was a dream it meant everything is possible.” Seeing these stars who came from humble upbringings playing in the World Cup has inspired children in the impoverished suburbs of Paris to believe that they can indeed break the cycle. This is something Mbappe has personally tried to encourage through football. In fact, through his sponsorship with Nike, Mbappe even had a futsal pitch installed for the children of Bondy.
Mbappe Gives Generously to Help Children in the Impoverished Suburbs of Paris
With the world watching, Mbappe decided his World Cup earnings were better suited towards a humanitarian cause. Mbappe has since donated all of his World Cup earnings to Premiers de Cordée, a charity that offers sporting opportunities to children who are hospitalized or have disabilities. This means the young French player will be donating approximately £384,000 ($449,606) to Premiers de Cordée, which the charity confirmed it will receive in September 2018.
This has set a precedent for other professional footballers that other members of France’s national team have begun to follow. It has been reported that other players from the squad are also donating part of their earnings to fund an educational trip to Russia for 25 students of the Jean-Renoir College in Bondy. Yet, no player has gone above and beyond in their philanthropic efforts like Mbappe, who, aside from donating his entire paycheck, has spent much of his time off the professional football pitch with these children, playing with them and encouraging them. It is through these efforts by professional footballers like Kylian Mbappe that the World Cup has proven to be inspirational to the impoverished suburbs of Paris, proving that the cycle of poverty is not everlasting.
– Isabella Agostini