End-of-year 2019 : ANOCA president’s message to Olympic and sporting Africa

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With the curtains set to be drawn on 2019, ANOCA President, Mustapha Berraf, takes a retrospective looks on the year and extends his best wishes to all members of the African Olympic and sports family.  Following is the full text of his end-of-year message.

Dear brothers and sisters of the African Olympic and Sports Movement,

ANOCA, which was established to promote sport and Olympism in Africa must today play a more strategic role in line with the perspectives and new visions of the IOC and its institutions. ANOCA’s goals must be centred on a new form of organisation in accordance with international norms and standards, with a different way of thinking that seeks to present the real image of African sport. Our aim will be to produce educational and technical content that suits our educators and also our athletes who thirst for performance and success, given that they have all the qualities. We must think up strategies that will help us equal and even surpass our rivals; of course, we have the human potential to achieve that. We are duty bound to create an enabling environment for them to meet their aspirations, for they are our champions!

Consequently, I urge each and every one of us to allow them to live their passion for games and Olympism and to back them with our expertise and clout.

 

The year 2019 highlighted defining moments, which showcased the glory and success of our continental youth outreach actions.  I am therefore addressing this message to you, to share with you my feelings at the end of this pre-Olympic period, which is rounding off with its corollary of fascinating and vital moments for the life of the Olympic and Sports Movement of our continent. I thus urge us to look back on the ground covered and, together, look forward, with confidence and determination, to this new year 2020, whose highpoint will be the celebration of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

 

The scorecard of ANOCA actions features several institutional meetings: the 54th ordinary session held in Rabat, Morocco, from 25 to 26 February 2019, an extraordinary session of the same body held in Sal on 10 June 2019, the 18th ordinary session of the General Assembly held in Cape Verde on 12 June 2019.  I also have in mind the meetings of various ANOCA Commissions, which have clearly demonstrated the sort of renewed dynamism that imbues us with great optimism for future.  On another note, we are delighted with the success of the 26th Seminar for Secretaries General of African NOCs held on 17 and 18 November 2019 in Zanzibar under the theme: “250 days countdown to Tokyo 2020.”  These meetings made it possible to outline a common sports governance vision in our NOCs, harmonise our points of view and, above all, adopt common strategies for the optimal preparation of Africa for the Tokyo Games.

 

The visit, in November 2019, of IOC President Thomas Bach to Cape Verde, Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon further consolidated the strong cooperation ties between the IOC and the African Olympic Movement. The ANOCA headquarters was also inaugurated in Abuja during that tour, thus showcasing our good relations with the Nigerian government which, indeed, contributed to see through this major project. Still at the diplomatic level, I held discussions with the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat. on 12 December in Cairo, Egypt.  The African Union has hailed the work done by our institution in fostering sport and Olympism in Africa. In the same vein, I met with the Speaker of the Slovanian parliament, Dejan Židan, on 16 December. From our discussions, I can say there are brighter prospects for the African Olympic and Sports Movement, notably with the provision of inflatable sports equipment for Olympafrica Centres.

 

ANOCA development zones have demonstrated the sort of dynamism that should be hailed here. Sports events and seminars were organised here and there. The ANOCA allocation increased annually for each zone from US $20,000 to US $50,000 for the quadrennial.

 

However, beyond these purely institutional platforms, it must be emphasised that this year’s flagship was undoubtedly the successful hosting of the maiden African Beach Games from the 14 to 23 June 2019 in Sal Island, Cape Verde. These games added to the gamut of continental events organised by our institution. With 42 participating NOCs, 11 sports disciplines and a total number of 539 athletes, there is reason to be happy to have offered our continental youth a memorable sports festival. The event was a success thanks to the great synergy between ANOCA and the local authorities.  The presence of the President of the Republic of Cape Verde at the opening ceremony attested to this.  Need I mention that there was a grant of US $ 5,000 per NOC and a financial contribution in support of the organisation of the Games following consultations between Olympic Solidarity and the local NOC? The African Beach Games, founded by ANOCA, aim not only to promote beach sports in Africa but, moreover, to stimulate healthy competition among young Africans practising these sports, while enhancing the African coastline.

 

Of course, looking back, we will not forget the great success of the 3rd African Youth Games, still fresh in our memories, and which took place from 18 to 28 July 2018 in Algiers. The event brought together 3,000 athletes from the 54 NOCs of the continent. A real popular African youth jamboree, Algiers 2018 was a great gathering for multidimensional communion. 

 

Similarly, ANOCA has fully assumed its responsibilities as the structure in charge of the management and organisation of the All Africa Games.  Beyond the medals hauled, the 12th edition of this sports event, held in Rabat from 19 to 31 August 2019, afforded an opportunity for athletes of the 54 participating NOCs to imbibe the culture of hard work, self-examination, respect for others and sharing.  Four thousand four hundred and forty-six athletes, 2,623 of them men (59%) and 1,823 women (41%) took part in this event, for which each NOC received a grant of US $ 10,000.  The success of Rabat 2019 also lies in the total audience figures. Indeed, the games were broadcast in 198 countries, thus about 400,000 homes worldwide, thanks to the agreement concluded with TV Media Sport. Furthermore, the remarkable broadcasts by IOC television’s Olympic Channel, which brought the games’ images to some 480 million households, is to be commended here. All of Africa came out stronger from Rabat, esteemed and valued, thanks to an organisation that showed the beautiful face of the continent, and to the athletes, who were exemplary on and off the competition venues.

 

Also, this year, our Olympafrica programme remained a focal concern. It regularly provided significant sport, education, cultural and economic benefits to the relevant communities.  There are 48 Olympafrica centres across the continent, two of which opened their doors this December.  

 

The year 2019 was also a successful one for several officials.  Many of them were elected to various positions of responsibility in world sports and Olympic bodies, notably International Sports Federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  In this respect, the 134th IOC Session held from 24 to 26 June 2019 in Lausanne was marked by the election of 5 Africans as new IOC members, 3 women and 2 men; a first for our continent.  They include the ladies Odette Assembe Engoulou (Cameroon), Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqopo (Lesotho) and Filomena Fortes (Cape Verde) and Messrs Mustapha Berraf (in the capacity of ANOCA President) and Tidjane Thiam (Côte d‘Ivoire).  I heartily congratulate them and request that they embody the typical African values of solidarity, probity and respect.

 

Pertaining to Africa’s presence at global events, our athletes participated with success in several intercontinental sports meets, including the maiden World Beach Games in Doha in November this year.  Thirty-nine of them, 19 men and 19 women obtained their tickets at the games in Sal, Cape Verde.  Beyond the medal haul, Africa’s greatest achievement at these events was that its representatives imbibed the idea of the need for the virtues of fair play, self-sacrifice as well as the desire to go beyond any limits whatsoever. 

 

One of the key moments that will confirm Africa’s standing in the Olympic Movement will undoubtedly be the hosting, in Dakar, of the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2022.  ANOCA will stand with Senegal for a successful organisation of that event.  Dakar 2022 should show the world that Africa shares the vision that the ideal of Olympism in each of us should prevail so as to uphold the sports and Olympic values erected as an impenetrable bulwark against violence, bitterness and fanaticism.  We must showcase to the world our values of solidarity and our know-how in hosting major events.  We are satisfied with the positive view that IOC officials have of the ongoing preparations. Last November, IOC President, Thomas Bach, visited facilities scheduled to host the world’s youth during these games.  Recently, after inspecting certain facilities, representatives of the IOC Coordination Commission also held discussions with the Dakar 2022 team on various organisation-related aspects of the event. 

 

Such positive impressions were the fruit of our efforts. The significant impact of our African sport development activities and the positive feedback from NOCs remained the motivating factor for ANOCA to forge ahead, with confidence, in order to address the numerous challenges.  Other equally important challenges await us in 2020. We are not going to stop in the tracks thanks to the support of all stakeholders of the African Olympic and Sports Movement. We still have a long way to go to meet the legitimate aspirations of Africa’s youth.  It is in this state of mind that we will approach 2020; a great year that will feature major events, the most prominent being the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.  The historic Japanese city scheduled to host the world’s young athletes will welcome thousands of competitors from Africa during both events. Tokyo 2020 challenges us on two levels: preparation and participation.  ANOCA intends to be part of the entire process of our continent’s preparation and participation in this great event, which would once again showcase to the whole world the immense talents of our athletes who, we hope, will be enthusiastic, conquering and dignified. As of now, we have created an Athletes’ Support Committee. At the operational level, 52 scholarships were awarded to athletes ranked in the world Top 10, or Top 8 at the recent World Championships at the time of the award.  They were allocated from the US $ 1,000,000 support fund set up by our institution and dedicated to preparing athletes for this event.

 

Each of the athletes has been receiving US$1000 per month since April 2019.  Phase 2, which will concern athletes who have not yet benefited, will be launched at the beginning of 2020. In the same vein, I urge our sports movement officials to act in a collective and concerted manner with their athletes so as to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in the best conditions. Our continent’s participation in that event should be hinged on ethical values of fair play, respect for the opponent, a healthy lifestyle and modesty. 

Dear Brothers and sisters, at a time when 2019 is irreversibly ebbing away, I wish you happy end-of-year celebrations and the best of happiness, prosperity and health in advance for 2020.  My thoughts go to all those who work on a daily basis to promote sport and Olympism in Africa, notably the ministers in charge of sports, officials of National Olympic Committees, presidents of African Sports Confederations as well as national sports federation and club administrators. My best wishes also go to ANOCA Executive Committee members, athletes, the numerous volunteers and institutional partners of our association such as the IOC, ANOC, AIPS, the Keba Mbaye Foundation, JAPPO SA, WADA etc,

Fraternally,

Mustapha Berraf, President of ANOCA

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