MAMADY SIDIBE was very much the ‘piece de resistance’ when he went back to school to offer encouragement to a group of GCSE French students at the Co-operative Academy of Stoke-on-Trent this week.
The popular Mali international striker took part in a question and answer session in French which allowed the 25 students to brush up on their language skills, while also learning more about his career in the process.
French-speaking Sidibe, who had to learn English quickly when he moved to this country eleven years ago, stressed the importance of young people mastering different languages to help them get on in life these days.
He related to his own experience in saying: “It is so much more of an advantage to you if you learn other languages.
“I found that when I first came to England and didn’t know how to speak the language. It made it very tough at times.
“Having the ability to speak different languages can lead to so many more opportunities in life, especially in the world we now live in where it is so much easier to travel around and obtain work in other countries.
“I know English is the most popular language around the world, but it helps to get on more if you can speak other languages.”
He added: “I was only too happy to help the students out with their lesson and I was very impressed with the new Academy, so much so that I thought it was a University when I walked in the door; the facilities are that good.
“That makes it an excellent learning environment for the children, but it is also important that they get some enjoyment out of their education, so hopefully I have been able to do that today by taking part in this lesson.”
Sidibe recalled his early days at Swansea City when he first made the switch to English football at the start of the 2001-02 season.
“Football is an international language, so there was no problem playing or training,” he said. “But once I had finished at the club, it was hard. Everywhere else you went, even at home watching television, you needed English.
“So I had to learn fast. I wish I had learned it when I was younger at school, but it was not important to me at that time.”
Sidibe’s visit to the impressive £23 million Co-operative Academy, which opened in Brownhills last month, was set up by Stoke City’s Community Trust.
This is just one of many initiatives run in conjunction with the Club’s Official Community and Banking Partner Britannia, which is part of the Co-operative Bank.