“Our first success is really having Ronaldinho and Yacine Brahimi as investors.” The first was world champion in 2002 before winning the Ballon d'Or three years later. The second lifted the African Cup of Nations with Algeria in 2019. Both were quickly won over by Footsider: giving a new opportunity to players who had slipped through the cracks.
In January 2022, Footsider took over the torch from the Second Chance Academy association, created three years earlier. An additional year to “digitalize” the project. The application was launched on January 1, 2023 and was an immediate success. 85,000 players registered after nine months. More than 700 clubs on the lookout for a future recruit. “It’s a lot of snapshots,” explains Rihane Mouhib, one of the two creators. Clubs post advertisements and the player can apply. Clubs can also draw from CVs. For example: a player born in 2003, right-handed and striker. We really are the LinkedIn of football.”
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The two founders, established in the world of football for a long time, started from a simple observation: both knew players who never became professionals despite an excellent level. “This responded to a huge need, from clubs and players, both pros and amateurs,” continues Rihane Mouhib, who does not hide his ambition. We are a facilitator for the clubs and for the players. We are not intermediaries, we are not agents. We hope to get closer to the FFF and become a support for them, to increase the number of licensees and support for players.
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Thanks to the application, players and clubs can communicate all year round but detection days are regularly set up. Around a hundred young footballers were then brought together under the eyes of numerous recruiters. At the beginning of June, several dozen teenagers were able to meet on a field in eastern Paris under the gaze of professional Ligue 1 clubs, such as OM, but also foreign clubs like Bologna. In total, around twenty European teams responded to the invitation. “I was pleasantly surprised because things are well done and well organized here,” notes Bernard Manga, recruiter for Bologna. Everything is meticulous. The match sheets are ready. The players are on time. In the other detections, there is no such thing. It’s the best detection I’ve made.”
“It’s clearly a second chance for me here,” promises Lilian, a young 17-year-old defender, who is already making his second detection with Footsider. This is one of my last chances but I would be ready to come back again if necessary.” Although the two sponsors did not come this time, they remain very invested. “When we talked about it to Yacine Brahimi and Ronaldinho, it immediately spoke to them,” says Rihane Mouhib. They really believed in the project. Every two weeks, we give them an update on the progress. They are partners and investors because they injected their own funds, which shows their motivation.
Two football stars who allow Footsider to make itself known throughout the world, even if the two creators first want to consolidate the French market before setting out to conquer abroad. Today, the application can operate thanks to offices located in Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille. About a dozen people work there every day. A thunderous start and high ambition from both partners. “In all modesty, we think that this could revolutionize recruitment in football, both for the amateur and professional world,” says Rihane Mouhib, also a sports management teacher. Today, professional clubs are trying to find alternatives to training centers. They often turn to academies, in Africa or Brazil. We believe that Footsider arrives at the right time to be a facilitator for all football stakeholders.
An observation already shared by all the players on the platform, players and recruiters. “Footsider can change the world of football,” promises Lilian, an amateur defender in the Saint-Etienne region. Every player, wherever they play, can see themselves suddenly propelled into the professional world. This new method of recruitment is a good thing.” Same story for Bernard Manga. “Many young people are slipping through the cracks,” regrets the recruiter who worked for Atalanta Bergamo. We need to give them a second chance. It's a very good thing that Footsider is looking for players. I think it’s a great initiative.”
Launched last January, the application has already made people happy. Registered at the start of the year, Benjamin Idaro caught the eye of the Bologna recruiter during the first detection in February. “I really liked his impact and his activity in midfield,” confesses Bernard Manga. When I saw it, I jumped on it. He came to our house for five days, we observed him and it was conclusive.” At 18, this young midfielder is offered a second chance, three years after his departure from the Girondins de Bordeaux training center. “I was just disgusted,” explains the new Bologna FC reserve player. Seeing my friends continue and me not, it gave me a shock. I had a hard time grieving.”
Rejected by the region's big club, Benjamin Idaro rediscovers the pleasure of football in an amateur club. He is even outclassed. Despite this first failure, the young man continued to believe in it and discovered Footsider through his trainer in Mérignac. Headed to Paris, accompanied by his father, to try his luck. A conclusive test. This midfielder, whose idol is Tanguy Ndombélé, signs a three-year contract with Bologna this summer. “Footsider helped me,” readily admits the one who could play for Cameroon or the Central African Republic, but who dreams of the France team. It was a real springboard for me.” Because that’s what we’re talking about here. Of “springboard”, of “facilitator”, of “support” and of a second chance. Bet already successful.