An ANOCA delegation headed by President Mustapha Berraf was in Havana, Cuba, from 3 to 6 February 2020. Accompanying the President were Joao Da Costa Alegre Afonso, First Vice President, and Kamal Lahlou, member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the ANOCA Marketing Commission. Welcomed upon touchdown by the President of NOC Cuba, Roberto León Richards Aguiar and the Algerian Ambassador to Cuba, Kamel Boughaba, the delegation had a fruitful stay in Havana that benefited African sport. ACNOA Newsletter presents the main highlights of that working visit.
Agreement between ANOCA and NOC Cuba
ANOCA and NOC Cuba concluded a Sports Cooperation and Exchange Agreement on 6 February 2020. The document was signed by the Presidents of both organisations, Mustapha Berraf and Roberto León Richards, respectively. The signing was witnessed by the First Vice-President of ANOCA, Joao Da Costa Alegre Afonso, Kamal Lahlouh, member of the Executive Committee and President of the ANOCA Marketing Commission and Mr. Osvaldo Vento Montiller, Director of INDER. It focuses on a number of areas including cooperation, exchanges, training and scientific research. Both parties seek to establish and maintain permanent cooperation ties between them in all areas of Olympic activities. “We look forward to strong exchanges between Cuba and Africa. We have found major avenues to explain and share our experiences, to better project what we propose based on the common interest of Cuba and Africa,” said Mustapha Berraf.
The President of NOC Cuba, for his part, indicated that sports relations between his country and Africa are supposed to be the expression of indissoluble historical ties. He thanked the ANOCA delegation for the agreement, which marks a decisive step in the relations between the two entities.
Meeting with the Vice Prime Minister of Cuba
While in Cuba, the President of ANOCA also met with the Vice Prime Minister, Roberto Morales Ojeda. The meeting, which took place on 6 February 2020 was an opportunity for President Berraf to present the situation of the African Olympic and Sports Movement. He also thanked the Cuban authorities for the warm welcome, noting that his stay had been fruitful. Indeed, it helped strengthen sporting relations between Cuba and Africa. For his part, the Cuban official said that his country has long-standing relations with Africa and that he was pleased to receive the President of the supreme governing body of the African Olympic and Sports Movement.
Exchange with the Minister of External Trade and Foreign Investments
The ANOCA delegation also met with the Cuban Minister of External Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca. He noted that the stay of ANOCA delegation opens huge opportunities for Cuba and the African continent. Besides, he confirmed his ministry’s support in strengthening relations between Cuba and sporting Africa in his field of competence. The President of ANOCA in turn said he was satisfied with the reception and respect for his programme in Cuba. As for the partnership between Africa and Cuba, he said he was confident that the best is yet to come.
Meeting with African sportsmen and women in Havana
During his stay in Havana, President Mustapha Berraf also visited African boxers on training camp in preparation for the next qualifying stage for the Summer Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020. During this meeting, the ANOCA President began by hailing the choice of Cuba for this preparation, noting that the country is credited with a long tradition in boxing. He then urged the boxers to be role models in and out of the rings. “ANOCA will always provide strong support to all African athletes. We have to do better than in Rio 2016,” he insisted.
Working session with officials of Cubadeportes
The ANOCA delegation also visited the facilities of the company Cubadeportes. This was followed by a working session with the company’s management. From the exchanges, it can also be noted that Cuba currently has sports relations with five African countries through contracts between Cubadeportes and the sports ministries of those States. These include Cape Verde, Mali, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia. Several other African countries are also negotiating the same deals with this company. It should be noted that this company has collaborated with 21 African States in the past. Besides, the Director of Cubadeportes, Israel Perera Rozón, informed ANOCA officials that his outfit is ready to welcome athletes and other groups of people interested in training and scientific activities in Cuba.
Speaking thereafter, the President of ANOCA noted that to train champions, there is need for integral work under the supervision of specialists, and this is what Cuba can offer. He also said his organisation is ready to collaborate with elite institutions such as Cubadeportes to upgrade the level of training of African athletes and their coaches.
Visit to the facilities the Cuba Sports Research Centre
Accompanied by the President of NOC Cuba, Roberto Leon Richards, the ANOCA delegation also visited the Sports Research Centre. Inaugurated on 12 September 2016, this institution is a very strategic body in Cuba’s sports system. Access to research findings is limited by the strategic confidentiality of information. This organisation has several missions, namely: the development of sports research in the field of knowledge, boosting innovation and the search for solutions that affect the quality of physical activities, training of athletes and sports professionals, provision of scientific services, development of specialised production lines for new technologies, development of empowerment offers etc.
The President of ANOCA said he was pleased to visit this centre because, he underscored, “these types of structures are avant-garde tools in the quest for a more fine-tuned strategy for the management of sports activities. ” In his view, African countries should set up such centres to better establish their sports policies.
Visit to the Anti-Doping Laboratory and the Sports Exhibition Hall During their stay in Cuba, the officials of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) also visited several facilities. At the anti-doping laboratory in Havana, they were received by the director who said the structure was founded in 2001 and operates all day. It is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and produces convincing results. At the Cuba Sports Exhibition Hall, President Berraf and his entourage were introduced to the rich history of sports in the country. Here, the ANOCA delegation saw how, as a visionary, Fidel Castro’s thoughts are reflected at the Exhibition Hall.