Interview : « Our main objective is based on the principles of solidarity and harmony »

Honourable Mustapha Berraf, Member of the International Olympic Committee and President of ANOCA, speaks about his vision and the stakes of the African Olympic and Sports Movement in view of the coming important events.

  1. Mustapha BERRAF, you are the ANOCA President and IOC Member, one of thee most influential personalities in the African sports movement; how do you perceive African sports?

First of all, I would like to extend to all African populations and especially the youth, all my best wishes of good health and happiness for the year 2021. I have to tell you, in all truthfulness that we are witnessing situations of malfunctioning that do not serve African sports, its elites and its talents, because we cannot say, without being demagogical, that we possess a huge potential of highly skilled champions which unfortunately are not exploited.

2. What do you mean by “malfunctioning” and “not exploited”?

I think that the least of experts can tell you more on the issue; as far as I am concerned, I believe that the time has come to lay down a veritable continental sports policy, backed by a medium and long term development strategic plan which we have just drafted. This entails firstly a veritable cobweb for the detection of young talents and their assertion at continental and world level. A multiannual programme must advance the our supervision techniques to international standards on the one hand, and provide all adequate means for the training of high-performing athletes for a better representation of Africa on the other hand.

3. Does Africa underestimate the impact of sports in society?

Certainly not! For us, we can’t do without sports. The domain of sport and development means using sports as a tool at the service of development and peace. Sport is increasingly reckoned in Africa as a means to achieve personal, community, national and international objectives and used to take up many challenges, such as humanitarian crises or conflict and post-conflict situations. As sport is increasingly being used, there is a need to develop a well-defined scope of action in order to avoid any excesses. Sport remains the only source of entertainment for youths in popular neighbourhoods.

4. Let’s come back to ANOCA for which you are the Chief Executive?

Certainly not, this term is absolutely inadequate; I am the President elected y my peers from the 54 African countries and I pay them absolute respect which, I can assure you, is reciprocal. I am very attentive to their comments, recommendations and requests, because they are the ones who chose me. Our management system is collegial, and our governance is participative. We are working together for the general interest and athletes are our priority. Great cohesion and excellent visibility now exists within the African Olympic Movement. We are together to implement the action plan adopted by the General Assembly.

5. Are you going to run for a second term at the helm of ANOCA?

I will, by the grace of God and this will probably be the last, because this position requests a lot of efforts and great availability; we shall discuss with African NOCs for a peaceful and clear transition for the future. I am aware that one day or the other, I will have to quit the house of sports which I loved too much.

6. What about the AOC?

The AOC is in good hands and I will always be available for any support or contribution in favour of our organization, of Algerian athletes and technicians, the majority of whom are tremendously skilled. I wish them success and also urge them to work harder.

7. You were strongly abused by some officials! What do you have to tell them?

I forgive them and leave them alone with their conscience. Algerian and African public opinion knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff. The ambitions of each and everyone are legitimate, but they should not, in any case, be based on lies and insults, because truth will out. In some cases that bring embarrassment to our dear continent, it is sometimes better to keep quiet. For the past years, I worked in several State institutions where I was bound to the sense of duty and reservation.

8. You expressed your support in favour of the holding of the TOKYO Olympic Games!

Of course and I am not alone; the entire African Olympic and Sports movement stood besides the IOC and the Japanese authorities in these trying circumstances. I am just the interpreter of African NOC’s position and wish. We shall overcome all odds caused by this pandemic for, as the IOC President has repeatedly said, humanity must get out of this long and terrible tunnel.   

9. You said that ANOCA will contribute in the provision of vaccines to African delegations! 

Let me confirm you that this measure will only apply to needy delegations and that all shall be done in close collaboration with the IOC and the WHO. President Thomas Bach and the Prime Minister of Japan are closely monitoring all initiatives relating to the Olympic Games. We are persuaded that all conditions required shall be put in place for the success of the world’s greatest event.

10. Your closing remarks!

My deepest wish is that, the African Olympic movement should be a haven of peace and unity. ANOCA shall work relentlessly to serve member NOCs and athletes. Our main objective is based on the principles of solidarity and harmony in line with the provisions of the Olympic Charter. We shall make sure, in the present context, that our sportsmen and women’s health is protected. Finally, I would like to pay tribute to all colleagues and friends who supported me during the hard times I went through. I thank them all, individually.

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