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Confédération Africaine de Football

03/05/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/06/2018 16:34

CAF Women's Football Symposium: Opening speech by ... 05 March 2018

05 March 2018 09:31

The General Secretary of FIFA
First Lady of the Republic of Liberia
The Minister for Youth and Sports of Morocco
Ladies and Gentlemen of the CAF Executive Committee,
Presidents of National Associations,
Honourable guests,
Dear participants,

It is to me an immense honour to preside over the opening of a prestigious Symposium entirely dedicated to women, entirely consecrated to women's football.

I would like to start by heartily thanking His Majesty King MOHAMMED VI of Morocco, who has accepted to patronise this symposium on women's football.


I would like to restate our acknowledgement and gratitude for his unfailing support for CAF.

After having totally funded the organisation of the 1st Symposium, rescued the organisation of the African Nations championship in-extremis with 15 millions, he hosted over 30 African national teams in preparation and today he supports and patronises this Symposium. What he has done for African football is in line with what he continues to do in many cooperative undertakings on our continent.
Today, as he is concerned with his health, I pray the almighty ALLAH to assist him ... 'Bil Chiffa incha allah.'

Ladies and gentlemen,
Today's event spotlights the woman in her live choices, her reasons for loving sport and her passion for football.
CAF is determined to commit itself in this light.
This is a supreme calling.
Who can negate the existence of an extraordinary movement for women sport in our world today?
Who can ignore this incredible step forward by women in every domain of life?
societal, scientific, industrial, medical, technological, philosophical, literal, managerial, and, of course, sport.
The image of the women forbiden to practise sport in the first Olympic Games at the end the the last century is far behind us. Fortunately...

For since 1928, and following their full-fledge inclusion in the Olympic Games of Amsterdam, women have hinged their struggle on:
- performance,
- exploits,
- spectacle, and of course,
- emotions.

And in all these areas, permit me to talk of an exceptionally symbolic african woman:
It was on August 8, 1984 in the Los Angeles Olympic Stadium, a 22 year old African woman placed in tract N° 3, wearing number 272, and contesting the 400m-Haies, a new feminine competition on the programme.
She beat all the favourites, and won the olympic gold medal.

The entire world came to discover the youthful figure of this arab woman, muslim, African.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I call on you to applaud and make a victory sound to Mme NAWAL EL MOUTAWAKIL.

Nawal is in our midst. Today she presides over this Symposium.

She is, and remains an example for the African woman for having been Olympic champion, Minister, President of the Olympic Nominations Committee, IAAF board member, and Vice President for 8 years of the International Olympic Committee.

The determination and pugnacity of such examples have led to a historic movement of high-level African sportswomen.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I still take great pride as I say to you that the most successful sports woman on the planet is African, yes, AFRICAN. She is the Ethiopian TIRUNESH DIBABA, triple olympic champion in athletism, and nine times world champion, an absolute world record.

It is true that as concerns athletism, African champions rule the world. They are many, and their names rumble in the highest palmers: the Mozambican MARIA MUTOLA, the Ethiopian DERARTU TULU, the Nigerian MARIA ONYALI, the Kenyan CATHERINE DEREBA, the Ivorian MURIELLE AHOURE and tens of others.

In football, we do not yet have players capable of matching MARTA, BIRGIT PRINZ, and STEFFI JONES.

They started enjoying official competitions only since 1999 with the creation of the Feminine AFCON, and the FIFA World Cup.

In the FIFA World Classifications, Nigeria is 37th, Ghana 46th and Cameroon 48th.

Yes but this reality is contradicted by facts:
We now have about 62000 sporters on the African continent.
To this number, which is some how significant, should be added school and university athletes whose competitions are autonomous and irregular.
School and university, these are two sectors where we have to insist on familiarising the practice of football among young girls, elicit the desire to tend toward clubs and associations and official organisations.
It is within this scope that we have to militate to create opportunities that favour their integration and conditions that are suitable for regular practice.
It is true that we are in Africa where the impact of our traditions, the influence of our cultures weigh a lot on the practice of feminine sport.
It is true that there is also the issue of the utilisation and exploitation of the woman for beauty and childbearing as upheld by scientists and sociologists, but I prefer to first observe other signs - runners of modernity, passion and even feminine grace in sport.
Who could have imagined that one day women would embrace playing Rugby, boxing or fighting; disciplines that were strictly reserved for men for a century and a half?

Whereas women are recording multiple exploits in these sports, overturning all prejudices.

On our continent, we now have to decide to formally and unequivocally commit ourselves to firmly promote feminine football.
Under my presidency, CAF is resolutely determined to
- support mass practice of women's football
- encourage the initiatives of local federations
- engage football in the emancipation of the woman
- stimulate the adhesion of gaubernatorial authorities

Ladies and gentlemen,

This symposium exists because I made clear commitments during my electoral campaign for CAF presidency:
Feminine football must:

- catch up its lag
- better organise itself,
- have increased means,
- popularise its practice.

I urge you to brainstorm on all the selected topics, to discuss step by step, to break taboos should they present themselves and finally to decide on a line of progress that should be followed.
Considering the composition of participants, I am optimistic.

I suggest you exploit your legitimacy, your knowledge, your know-how to lead the African Football Confederation into a vast movement of conquest of new territories that will place Africa's women's football on a path to succeed in its transformation and develop new assets.
I would like to reiterate to you the support shown by the Executive Committee of CAF for this meeting and the hopes you raise in our hearts to see this football of the future, raising the banner of its success.
Dear friends, consider history once more, the great history of Africa with two particularly significant events:

- the election of GEORGE WEAH at the helm of the presidency of the Republic of Liberia.
It is about, we should not forget, the climax of an outstanding athlete, the only African to have won the World Golden Ball Award, and the only after a fanstatic career to ascend to the highest office.

- The second significant event is the candidature of Morocco for the hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The 2nd African candidature in a century.
Indisputably these two events of exceptional significance have a direct impact on the mind and the motivation of our youths.
With such an impact, African youths feel as propelled on wings.
Its clarifies their perspectives and hopes.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, dear colleagues,

Under your direct influence today and in the future, African women's football should have a new take off, to engage itself toward success, performance and exploit.

A women's football, which neither anything nor anyone can ever thwart on the African continent.

I remain, we remain confident in your ability to radically change things.

Reflect on new opportunities,
Think of stimulating plans
Look for new ways of doing things,
Have prolonged discussion, debate on every subject matter,
Do not forget this:

From this Symposium should emanate resolutions that will be binding on us all.

More than ever, CAF remains motivated and attentive to your work.

Long live the African female athlete
Long live women's football
Long live the Confederation Africaine de Football