Mali has 11.6 million people in a hot, dusty space twice the size of Texas.
The country is poor, which makes an inexpensive sport such as tae kwon do an easier fit than other athletic activities; it will cost just $6,000 to outfit the entire team, Giamo says.
For two weeks in late August - around the time of the Olympics this year in Athens - Giamo and three co-trainers will conduct classes. In the morning, they will teach tae kwon do to Mali's athletes.
In the afternoon, they will teach how to referee. In the evening, 1,000 people are expected to crowd into a soccer stadium in Barnako, the country's capital, to learn kicking, punching and parrying.
Out of this pool are expected to come the eight men and eight women who will constitute the national team. If they qualify, only two of each gender could represent Mali in the 2008 games, to be held in Beijing, Giamo said.
As part of their training, the four or five best performers will be flown to the United States for seasoning at martial-arts studios in the Philadelphia area.
These include Giamo's Eagleville Tae kwon do Academy; Bobby Leach's Olympic Karate in Voorhees, Camden County; and USA Sport Taekwondo Club in Philadelphia's Andorra section, run by Michael Machalette.
Leach and Machalette are expected to accompany Giamo to Africa. A fourth trainer will come from the ranks of junior competitors at the Eagleville studio.
The invitation to fly to Mali came through Boubacara Sacko, Mali's heavyweight boxing champion, who has trained at Giamo's academy.
Mali had tried and failed to field a tae kwon do team in 2000, the first year of the sport in the Olympics. Sacko's uncle, an Olympic official, decided to remedy that. In September 2003, he persuaded Mali's tae kwon do committee to invite Americans to do the training.
"I accepted immediately," Giamo says.
To cover the $20,000 cost of the training mission, which includes airfare and equipment, Giamo must first appeal to corporate and private donors. A nonprofit corporation was established April 16.
Mali is covering the cost of food and lodging. The trainers will donate their time.
In the best case, the money will be raised, and trainers will go back to Mali once a year to polish skills taught this summer, Giamo says.
World leaders in the sport are South Korea, Spain, China and Iran, although Cuba has "an up-and-coming team," Giamo says. The United States ranks in the top 10.
In Olympic competition, men fight three three-minute rounds. Women fight three two-minute rounds. A buzzer sounds the start and end of rounds.
Just as in boxing, there are different weight categories, ranging from flyweight to heavyweight. The weights are different for men and women.
Opponents are scored on their ability to target certain areas of the body with sharp, swift thrusts of the hands and feet. Competitors traditionally wear a white tunic and pants; helmets, chest guards and padding protect against injury.
"They're judged on the force of the impact," Giamo says. "The kick or punch has to be strong enough to abruptly move your opponent."
In Eagleville this month, though, the kicks from the youngsters taking lessons in Giamo's studio had the force of butterfly wings. In fact, some had abandoned the learning effort altogether.
One little boy broke ranks and sped around the perimeter of the room, chortling and smiling. That didn't faze Giamo.
"Come on back here," said Giamo, with a small smile of his own. "Stop running away."
Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Checks should be made out to: Mali Tae kwon do Fund, c/o Eagleville Tae kwon do Booster Club, 3200 W. Ridge Pike, Eagleville, Pa. 19403, or call 610-630-8272.