WINTER GAMES: DREAM COME TRUE FOR YOUNG AFRICAN ATHLETES

The Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024 afford an opportunity for our young athletes to display their talents in a number of winter sports disciplines. This unprecedented participation is a life- changing experience for many young Africans. The initiative has been taking shape since we embarked on what appeared to be a challenge for our Olympic and Sports Movement from its inception, but we believed strongly in it. All this is evidenced by the participation of this fine crop of young people from our snowless countries.

This year, 2023, we will be fine-tuning our preparation for an outstanding participation in the Winter Youth Games Gangwon 2024.

We will not go to Gangwon to make up the numbers. Africa is a continent of winners and our youths have the fighting spirit. This is why this competition, which will be in its 4th edition, is special for our continent.

ANOCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Gangwon Province, Republic of South Korea, on 16 March 2022 in Cairo, Egypt, with the goal to develop winter sports and share the experience of organising the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon.

This cooperation seeks to promote the success of these youth games, encourage young people from snowless countries to participate in the winter sports support project, guide the African Youth Team to participate in the Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024, and support the joint organisation of the Games by the two Koreas (South-North) with the goal of organising the “Peace Olympics”.

Thanks to the Horizon Academy Programme, the PyeongChang Winter Sports Training Camp opened in 2022. Activities were held from 30 May to 12 June 2022. 56 young African athletes were trained in winter sports during this exciting training camp. This was followed by a tougher youth selection at the end of 2022 and another training camp is planned for this year 2023.

The Horizon Academy programme is thus bringing immense hope to the youth of the continent.

I hail the parents who supported and encouraged their children in this project; I wish to congratulate the Presidents of the African NOCs who displayed their professionalism and insight by allowing the young athletes and guardians to participate.

I also wish to thank the coaches who guided our young future champions with devoted attention.

The immediate outcome is closer cooperation which, today, is bearing fruit thanks to high profile dignitaries like IOC member William Frederick BLICK, who contributed significantly to the success of this ambitious programme.

We were awed by his managerial skills and his spirit of solidarity in ensuring the success of this initiative. We are grateful to him.

We will always owe the IOC President, Dr Thomas BACH, a debt of gratitude for his personal involvement, which has made the Horizon Academy programme an unprecedented success.

For our young people from snowless countries, this is an extraordinary experience and a breakthrough for African sport. We encourage African National Olympic Committees to avail themselves of this opportunity, which adds to our sports package and broadens our horizons in Olympic and sports performance. Our guiding principle is to give hope to African youths and shape Olympic and sports values in our ongoing quest for well-being.

We are drifting with the universal waves that seek to make sport the crucial platform for fostering peace, love, solidarity and fair play.

Mustapha BERRAF

IOC Member

President of ANOCA

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