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Wednesday 21 August 2019

From the Premier League with love: Cheikhou Kouyate's dream for Senegal

West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate is using his time in the Premier League to help those in his homeland of Senegal
West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate is using his time in the Premier League to help those in his homeland of Senegal

Cheikhou Kouyate is using his Barclays Premier League experience to help young people in his home country of Senegal.

The West Ham midfielder has helped set up a team with his agent in his home town with the aim of providing experience for aspiring players.

Kouyate said: "There is a team called Africa Foot, which is in Senegal where I grew up. There is a new team there and training ground and everything, which I arranged with my agent.

"Senegal is a football country and everyone loves the game there. There are two or three million youngsters trying to get into the game so if we can do anything to help them then that is fantastic."

Kouyate left Senegal for Belgium when he was just 17 and he went to achieve his dream of playing in Europe - and he hopes those at his academy can one day join him in the Premier League.

He said: "There are players there who want to succeed in Europe and my old coach works there.

"It would be a dream for me to see any players do well and come here if possible.

"The last time I was there in June I saw the desire all the players had and they just really want to make it in Europe.

"That is their dream and it is my dream as well for some of them to succeed. Doing that in England is not very easy but who knows, in a few years why not?"

The 25-year-old started his career in his home town with ASC Yego Dakar but was soon scouted by Brussels.

After staying with them for a season he moved across the city to Anderlecht and describes Brussels as his "home from home". Kouyate had recently planned to meet friends in the Belgian capital but due to ongoing security issues his plans changed.

"I lived in Brussels for eight years and it is sort of my home from home," he said.

"Of course I had some fantastic times there, and some not so, and I have lots of friends who live there.

"I was actually supposed to go and see them earlier this week but they told me to stay here and not go. Obviously, I wanted to support them and be by their side but they ended up coming here.

"The situation in Brussels, Paris, all over the world is terrible and I hope things calm down in the coming weeks."

The Hammers face West Brom in the Premier League on Sunday and the Senegal midfielder knows they need to improve from last weekend's derby defeat to Tottenham.

"We need to prepare well for this Sunday," he said. "Last Sunday was not a good day and was a match we obviously didn't want to lose, but now that's done so we have to prepare well for West Brom and do everything we can to get three points.

"We were all very frustrated with the result, the coach (Slaven Bilic) included. It wasn't just the fact that we lost, it was the way we played.

"We are of course very disappointed and these disappointments happen in football.

"We didn't really show up on the day and now it is up to us to work really hard and look at ourselves, look at what went wrong and do everything we can to get back to good form."

PA Media

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