2019 African Games – march towards redemption


2019 African Games – march towards redemption

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 20, 2018

    It seems there is light at the end of the tunnel for the African Games, as the fight between the African Union Sports Council (ausc) and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (anoca) has now subsided.   

    It was indeed gloves off in the fight for the ownership of the African Games. These games, which celebrated their 50th anniversary in the place of their birth, Brazzaville, Congo had now a major embarrassment instead of a celebration of African sporting talent.

    Things were made worse by the withdrawal of Equatorial Guinea from hosting the 2019 edition of the games. Fortunately, Zambia has stepped in to rescue this major continental multi-sport event.

    What is disheartening about the African Games is that the tension and turf war between the AUSC and ANOCA has been driven by self-serving officials, who do not have the interests of African athletes at heart.

    If the officials driving this public spate had the interests of Africa and of sports development on the continent, they would have seen the need for compromise and amicable discussions to leverage off each other’s strengths.

    This is the only way to promote the development of elite or high-performance sport on the continent.

    The fact that all over the world major multi-sport continental games are driven and organised by National Olympic Committees (NOCs) is recognition of the role of the Olympic Movement in the development of the elite sport.

    Why should Africa be an exception? However, on the other hand, ANOCA should respect the role of African governments and national sports authorities in terms of the development of the African Games to a recognised brand.

    ANOCA should, therefore, come in to add value to that brand and legacy.

    ANOCA should not seek to destroy it by diluting the influence of governments.  Memoranda of understanding cannot replace genuine goodwill and desire to collaborate. They are just pieces of paper.

    Both the AUSC and ANOCA cannot run the games by themselves. They need investments from corporate sponsors if the games are to continue as a worthwhile event on the African sporting calendar.

    The mudslinging that has been going on does not do anyone any favour, especially the talented young athletes wishing to make a name for themselves as well as earn a decent living through sport.

    Sport is no longer just fun and games. It is now a global multi-billion industry generating wealth and employment for millions throughout the world.

    Africa is not getting its fair share. The continent is being held back by the old –school “blazer brigade” officials in the AUSC and ANOCA.

    All that they care about is exercising their power and influence gallivanting all over the world on “official trips”, living 5-star lives, getting colossal amounts of allowances while doing absolutely nothing to improve the plight of ordinary African sports people.

    It is sad that African sport has been allowed to degenerate into this pathetic state.

    The athlete should be the focal point and convergence for all the noble initiatives that are crafted and implemented by the two organisations.

    The African Games are now a much-anticipated feature on the African sporting calendar.

    However, there is a need for continuous improvement and pursuit of excellence in the organization of the event.

    This can only be possible when all stakeholders are working closely together. The past salvos fired by AUSC and ANOCA are a good example of what should not be done in the administration of African sport.

    Officials on both sides of the divide are to blame.

    They had all become an embarrassment to themselves and to African sport.

    No amount of pathetic posturing and public relations gimmicks will undo the damage that has been done.

    It is just so bad, it seems like a nightmare to the innocent African athletes whose opportunities are being trampled upon by the selfishness of both AUSC and ANOCA officials.

    That kind of scenario should not be replayed again in the future if the African Games are to gain the respect they deserve. 

    There is great potential for the growth and transformation of the African Games to be a pride of the continent for the benefit the young athletes.

    Given the little time that is left before the African Games, it is important that international, continental, regional and national sponsors be engaged to support the Games.

    The event should not be too much of a burden on the public funds in the Republic of Zambia if there is a rigorous sports marketing and sponsorship drive.

    Negotiations and compromises are the only way forward for any situation in life.

    African sport is not an exception!  Discussions in a civilised way are the only way out of this big mess created by both AUSC and ANOCA. We can only pray that both organisations continue to engage each other amicably in the interest of sports development on the African continent.

    Good luck and congratulations to Zambia for rescuing Africa and stepping up the plate for this noble and worthy African sporting endeavour!


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