An interview with Mina Bendary, founder of “Je Suis” football academy, the first football team for Coptic Christians
“We pray together before every match. I say to my players to compete, mindful of every Christian that cannot play on account of their faith and to also show the world that we have talent”
Some weeks ago, I wrote an article about Mina Bendary, who, after being rejected by numerous Egyptian professional football clubs on account of his faith, decided to establish his own football academy and thus support talented boys who are prohibited from competing because of their religious beliefs.
His dream eventually became a reality, and now, this 23-year-old, is the youngest football coach in Egypt and one of the youngest in the world. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Mina Bendary some questions that came to my mind after hearing about his story.
When and why did you decide to found the Je Suis football academy?
In 2015, when some clubs rejected me because of my Christian faith. I wanted to help my Coptic brothers show off their football skills.
I loved football since I was a young boy—it was my passion, but I could never give up my faith for anything, so I joined my two loves: God and football.
Did you have people around you at the beginning? Who helped you?
No, no one helped me. In the beginning, everybody discouraged me, but I did not give up on my dream and eventually achieved it.
What was the most difficult at the start?
The most difficult thing was that nobody helped me to succeed in my football career, and there were no other Christian football players on the other Egyptian teams. Everybody was rejected because of their faith. The people did not believe in me. They did not like the idea of the Je Suis football academy. But I did not care about them. God gave me enough force to believe in myself and found the academy to help the other Christian football players.
Is the Academy attacked for being a Coptic Christian institution?
Yes, it was attacked many times. People say that I am racist, but I created this academy to support the Christians who were discriminated against on other teams. In our team, everybody is welcome, we have Muslim football players, too.
Does your team play in the Egyptian football league?
Yes, but not under our own name (Je Suis). It is not registered with the ministry of sport, and we do not have the appropriate equipment to play professional matches as we did not find any supporters who would finance our expenses. We participate under another name: the El Masry Victoria Club, and we have to pay money to them so that we can use their name.
Do you pray together before your matches?
Yes of course. Before every match we pray together and I say to my players to play for every Christian that was rejected for their faith and to show the world that we are talented.
We thank Mina for this interview. We pray to God for him and for his football team so that it may be as successful as he first dreamed.