Niamey-Niger — Niger's Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Honourable Kounou Hassane has described the ECOWAS Traditional Wrestling Tournament, TOLAC, as a platform to showcase Africa's rich cultural values.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of the tournament in Niamey on 6th June 2013, the Minister traced the principles of traditional wrestling to the values of tolerance, fraternity, friendliness, solidarity, accord and courage, often displayed in village squares, market places and African streets.
He therefore called on both athletes and officials to bear these in mind so as to ensure the success of the yearly competition that gathers traditional wrestlers from ECOWAS Member States.
In a message to the ceremony, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop, urged Member States to promote the capacity development of trainers and referees at the national level to complement the efforts of the ECOWAS Youth Sports and Development Centre (EYSDC) at ensuring the growth of African wrestling.
In the speech read by the EYSDC Director, Mr. Francis Njoaguani, the Commissioner also called on all stakeholders to embrace the Commission's passion for traditional sports by protecting the legacy of the game. The Deputy Governor and Deputy Mayor of Niamey, Messrs Oufana Moussa and Abba Dossou, assured participants on security and called for the exhibition of the spirit of unity for a successful tournament.
The President of the Nigerien Wrestling Federation, Mr. Abdoulaye Assane, highlighted the benefits of traditional wrestling, including promotion of physical fitness, competitiveness, fun, achievement, orderliness and sportsmanship.
Wrestlers from the 13 participating Member States started preliminary group contests soon after the opening ceremony, followed by preliminary individual bouts featuring 59 contestants, ahead of the finale on 8th June 2013.