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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Letter from AIPS Dakar congress

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Apart from the usual heightened excitement connected with such a gathering of journalists, with each delegate trying to make a good impression of him or herself, the event allowed the professionals to network among themselves and take stock of the vast need for improvement in the running of sports across the continent and the need to identify the role of the media in the quest to develop sports on the continent.

To give taste of the flavours on the venue at the confab, let me come closer home and ask how many Gambian clubs have even bothered to set up websites or appoint a media officer and or set up a communication department? I can bet not many has such set ups in this country.

Well, the Dakar confab heard inspirational speeches that lamented the absence of such important ingredients in African sports and blame them for the difficulties journalists encounter in looking for information.

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Again, taking The Gambia as example, some clubs here are so secretive of their operations that any enquiries by journalists are taken as interference in their private matters. But in Dakar, we got to hear that in fact, much as they could try to shun the media, the sports clubs and administrators cannot make any meaningful progress in anything without the press.

Back to the congress, and as is customary, the event was given an international seal of approval by Senegalese sports minister Mbagnick Mbaye who noted with great admiration AIPS Africa’s efforts to strive for progress and fresh energy in moving forward. There was no shortage of high profile dignitaries, led by IAAF president Lamine Diack and including AIPS president Gianni Merlo, NBA Africa vice president Amadou Gallo Ba, Congolese sports minister and the AIPS Africa president Mitchell Obi. The Senegalese minster said he was impressed with the dynamism of AIPS because despite the tough economic times and lean resources AIPS managed to put up a befitting congress. “Dynamism is part of your daily routine,” he enthused the 63 sports journalists from 23 countries.

AIPS president, Gianni Merlo, emphasised the need for the media to fight for independence at a time when more and more journalists are prone to corruption. He also gave a spirited speech on the need to save sports and the profession for the youth. He called for vigilance at all times and the need for sports administrators to recognise the efforts of sports journalists. “It is a special occasion for me because it’s the first congress I have attended in our 90th anniversary, but we are now facing a new challenge – the introduction of the so called new media. Sport is the biggest industry in the world and we have to save sport as it gives hope to the young generation of the world,” Merlo told a packed room of African delegates.

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The president of the host association ANPS, Momodou Koume said: “It is my wish that the 2014 congress will be the one that will reconcile and unite us all so that we speak in the same voice”.

Other special guests who spoke at the opening ceremony were IAAF president Diack and the NBA Africa’s vice president Amadou Gallo Ba, who gave a brief on the work of the project which revolves around the development of basketball in the region.

Congolese sports and physical education minister Leon Alfred Opimbat, took the floor to impress the journalists with  the state of preparatory works taking place in Brazzaville for, The All Africa Games which is 17 months away. “The government of Congo is equipping modern infrastructure for the games. We expect works on the projects to be completed in March 2015, which will be five months before the start of the games. We hope you will deliver the positive message in your respective countries when you go back,” told the journalists.

The first day of the congress was dedicated to reviewing the activities of the executive board headed by Obi Mitchell since the election in April 2013 in Sochi in Russia. The year gone by was dedicated to establishing contacts with major sports organisation in Africa and raising awareness of AIPS Africa in the region. The executive was also briefed on the reconciliation efforts to form a unified association in Côte d’ Ivoire. Both factions were represented in Dakar and reviving dormant affiliates.

Jalal Bouzrara, executive committee member of AIPS executive and Morad Moutaouakkil the first vice president of AIPS Africa confirmed that the AIPS Africa headquarters would remain in Casablanca following confirmation by the Moroccan government signed on March 17, 2014 affirming their support to the office.

There was also a brief presentation from Aliou Goloko, a seasoned Senegalese sports journalist and AIPS member who is organising an “African Football Night”, an awards ceremony which will seek to reward the best football players in various African  countries. The first edition is scheduled for May in Dakar. The journalists were later hosted to a dinner by Pamodzi sports marketing and consultancy firm based in Dakar owned by Papa Massata Diack.

The Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia were represented by the secretary general Abdoulie Bah of West Coast Radio and Musa Sise of Afri-Radio.  


Author: Musa Sise just back from Dakar


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