January 2017 – The World revolves around shifts in power, streams of refugees, natural disasters, peace negotiations…And incidentally around one of the greatest pastime in the world…- Football. Between January 14th and February 5th, Africa is competing for its very own continental football champion. 52 teams in 13 groups are competing against each other to win the Africa Cup – amongst them are the teams from Ghana („The Black Stars“), Senegal and Tunisia, Egypt, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
The teams feature a lot of familiar faces from the German Bundesliga: The former player of FC Freiburg, PITROIPA, is playing for Burkina Faso, ZOUA from 1. FC Kaiserslautern is competing for Cameroon and BOUHADDOUZ from 1. FC St. Pauli is playing for his home country Morocco for the third time. They belong – like many more young African professional athletes – to the group of people, which create as a part of our society with their power, their talent, their entertainment a strong uniting experience and enrich our everyday lifes.
Indeed, Africa is full of young up-and-coming athletes. That’s why there are surely some European talent scouts in the stadiums of Gabon to look for young talents for the European football elite. Late deals are attractive for both the players as well as the Clubs: The young Africans get a once in a lifetime opportunity and the clubs a chance to even more wins and therefore higher incomes…
Football as a branch of economy – no wonder all possibilities for success are tried out. And, of course, money plays a big role at the Africa-Cup as well. But not the primary one – Football as a global sport has exemplary function, which is taken serious during the African Championship 2017. One of the projects is to make the sport and its possibilities accessible to especially the youngest of the continent.
During the preparation for the African Championship, a lot of money was invested in football pitches and trying centers for children and teenagers. Germany contributed to the project as well: Development Minister Gerd Müller introduced his project „Mehr Platz für Sport – 1000 Chancen für Afrika!“ (More room for sports – 1000 chances for Africa). That way, the SOS Children’s Villages in Togo got two new football pitches…
A total success! The children and teenagers play on the pitches regularly. Even the little ones learn there to fight, to loose, to get back up on their feet, to fight again and to win. Especially for themselves. Because when the children learn from the cradle to strengthen their own interests and so their self-esteem, they are able to grow and become something really great. Even in their home country in the long run.
It is self-explanatory that when football is supported in Africa, it is possible to win in Africa. The incentive for young people increases to compete against each other on the home continent. When there are sufficient successes – and also money – which can be won, there are good chances as well that fewer young kickers are going to European clubs.
And when the cool kickers are equally elegant and successful on African football pitches as in the rest of the world, we probably will soon buy tickets for matches of the Africa Cup and travel as excited fans to the football stars in Africa.