Bolingo, Mansour, Bergs, Bailly: our sportsmen and women move for a good cause
Cynthia Bolingo, Lola Mansour, Zizou Bergs and Nigel Bailly visited an orphanage for Christmas.
It was a first meeting for these four athletes. "It was an opportunity for them to exchange and meet each other", says Jean-François Lenvain, who initiated the project and the visit of Cynthia Bolingo (athletics), Lola Mansour (judo), Zizou Bergs (tennis) and Nigel Bailly (motorsport) to the Cité joyeuse, the largest orphanage in Belgium located in Molenbeek.
The first two had already met a few days earlier to cook and distribute meals to the homeless in Brussels. This was a great experience for the two athletes, who then went on to celebrate Christmas with the children of the Cité Joyeuse.
The programme included activities, a magician and, above all, pancakes and hot chocolate served by the athletes. "For us, it may seem trivial to drink a hot chocolate, but for them, without falling into the Oliver Twist cliché, it's a real pleasure", smiles Nigel Bailly, a car driver whose objective for 2021 is to take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans in the first 100% disabled team. "This kind of thing helps to shed light on our daily lives and our sometimes overly selfish side."
Bailly, like the other three, is supported by the Ladbrokes Foundation and will launch his charity work under the betting company's umbrella in 2021.
"I am already involved in charity work and I am working to make motorsport more accessible, to show that anything is possible. My project is not yet clear but I want to show that one can, like me, live one's dreams after an accident. Learn to get back up, work to achieve your goals."
Cynthia Bolingo was on location. La Cité Joyeuse will be her home for 2021. In between her competitions to qualify for the Olympic Games, she will come to help the young people of the orphanage.
"Ever since I was a little girl, I have paid special attention to young people. I am studying to be a social worker and I see this experience as an opportunity to interact with these young people".
She would like to focus her action around her Olympic quest. "It's an opportunity to introduce them to this kind of major sporting event but also to introduce them to the practice of sport. Maybe I'll even discover some talents (laughs).
She smiles because she knows her real objective: to open their minds and try to bring them a little happiness.
A goal quite similar to that of Lola Mansour. The judoka is fighting her way back from a serious concussion and is using her free time to work on a second book after Ceinture blanche.
"The approach will be different from the first one because I want to go and meet young people, whether they are sportsmen or in difficulty, and they will give me material to put into shape".
A sportswoman and author, Mansour has an atypical profile that she wants to highlight. "I want to make them understand that we are not reduced to the box we have been put in. We have to open up to more things."
The most concrete project is certainly that of Zizou Bergs. The tennis player has given himself until the end of the year to reach the top 250 in the ATP but also to organise a big event for young people in difficulty in his region of northern Limburg.
"I want to gather as many people as possible on one day. There will be different stands to raise awareness and introduce kids to sport and other things. I want to help them and put them on the right track.
The tennis player has even convinced his entourage to volunteer for the adventure. "I've already given a lot of thought to this kind of thing in my down time when I'm away. I'm already active in Burundi where I have a tennis-related project".