What a contrast! A sporting year which, by all accounts, literally went down to the nadir in terms of sheer performance, took a u-turn last Sunday, ending in a veritable apotheosis.
The final of the Football Cup of Cameroon provided a good setting for champions of the various sporting disciplines to directly receive their trophies from the President of the Republic, Paul Biya. For many sportsmen and women, this was a defining moment because any encounter with the Head of State can only be momentous.
For a while, the dismal sporting performances of 2012 were put aside and attention set on feasting. Quite sincerely, 2012 could be said to be inglorious for Cameroonian sport. Few Cameroonian sportsmen could carry the national flag high enough. At the London Olympic Games, Cameroonian athletes could not make a mark, even after doing the nation proud in two past successful Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing. Even with football, once the source of sporting pride for the nation, there was virtually nothing to write home about as the Indomitable Lions continued their jig-saw performance on the FIFA ratings - beginning with the 56th position in January 2012 and ending on the 61st this December 2012.
Even if a glimmer of hope came with the third position at the November Female African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroonian football clubs went no where. In fact, they were all demoted and will henceforth have to take part in preliminary phases of all African football club competitions. In the other sporting disciplines, no real beacon to hang on! To add salt to the injury of this gloomy picture, one of the nation's sporting icons, Theophile Abega aka Docteur, died precociously in November.
A few moments of hope for the nation's sporting movement came with the successful organization of a professional football league. For many Cameroonians, a judicious management of this league may provide the panacea for a rebirth or renaissance of Cameroonian football. The laying of the foundation stone for an ultra-modern world-class headquarters building for the Cameroon FA was also largely seen as sign of the resolve to see football take its rightful place as a flag bearer of national sport.
These dismal performances notwithstanding, the President of the Republic made it a point of duty to personally chair the final of the Football Cup of Cameroon and, by extension, the formal closure of the sporting year in Cameroon. In the past, he has usually referred to the Indomitable Lions as a team from which the youth of the nation should draw inspiration. With the noticeable down-turn of performance by the Indomitable Lions, one could have expected the President to show less interest in sporting activities. His presence at the Yaounde Stadium last Sunday was obviously to slap the nation's youth into a greater conquering posture. After all, sport is a permanent emulation of talent.
Even beyond competitive sport, the President was also out to commune with his youthful compatriots in this great moment of feasting. Cameroonian youth must therefore avail themselves of this presidential availability to do better in future and to do their President proud. The President has played his part by being by their side whether in victory or in defeat. They must now show their gratitude by doing better in this coming year.
It is only by so doing that they will justify the fact that the President made it possible to end a gloomy sporting year in such a blaze of glory.