Cameroon: Providing Conducive Football Environment

The Head of State has over the years ensured that those involved in football have good facilities.

The results of a football match are only known at the end. Yet, to win any match the players, coaches and all other officials must put in their best. Given the passion that football has generated in Cameroon, President Paul Biya has sought to ensure that those involved in the game lack nothing in the pursuit of their cherished goals. A little comparison is important in pointing out the road so far covered just in the domain of football facilities in the country. Since Cameron last hosted the African Cup of Nations in 1972, football has evolved tremendously. The way game is organised today requires more infrastructure like hotels, transportation and above all, football fields. If the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde, the Ronde Adja Stadium in Garoua and the Reunification Stadium in Douala could in the past allow Cameroon to talk of football grounds, such a possibility no longer exists today. Thus, the situation in 2020 requires a complete overhaul.

Standing By Players And Teams Cameroon in 1982 in Spain took part for the first time at the final phase of the World Cup. After three matches played and three draws recorded, Cameroon was not only the first African country to have achieved such a prowess but emerged with one of the fastest goals at the competition. Consequently, the Indomitable Lions made the entire African continent proud by raising the Cameroon flag higher. Their return to Cameroon was a true test of endurance for the forces of law and order that had to work tirelessly to stop the crowd from getting into excesses as they fought to rejoice with the Lions. The attitude has been the same each time the Cameroon national football team came out with major international victories for the country. Some of the victories have even given room for a national public holiday so as to permit the entire nation share in the joy and effervescence of winning at the international level. Teams like Canon and Tonnerre both of Yaounde, Dynamo and Union of Douala and many others have contributed to the existing football passion in the country. The memorable statement: "Un seul mot, Continuez!" or "Just one word, Continue!" and even the "Lions' Fighting Spirit" have come to be a household expressions in the country for a long time. They came after the Head of State realised that the football national team has continued to win victories for the country. And to record his approval of such a conquerors posture, he has resorted to captivating phrases which left no Cameroonian indifferent since all and sundry shared in the victories. Some critics have even been tempted to think that certain exploits either at individual or collective level in Cameroon, football might have gone unnoticed by the Head of State. But that has hardly happened. Ace football striker, Milla Roger who on several occasions gave Cameroonians, Africans and the entire football world reasons to vibrate gleefully retired after the 1990 performance at the World Cup Final phase in Italy and was appointed Roving Ambassador by President Paul Biya. Equally outstanding was Biya's presence in Italy at the opening match of the FIFA World Cup for the year during which the Indomitable Lions beat the World Champion, Argentina with all their key players like the much-dreaded Maradona present. The female football Lionesses that have of late written their name in the golden book of major international competitions, have equally been Unity Palace guest to receive medals and national honours from the Head of State.

Facilities To Guarantee Victories The football attraction in Cameroon has not always produced positive results given that there are people who have attempted to either make life difficult for teams and players either through corruption or by creating conditions that do not encourage the growth of the game. But when players fought to brave such odds both on the field and out of the pitches to win matches, the letters of congratulations written to them each time by the Head of State have often worked like a tonic. In some situations the President has had to dispatch high-ranking government officials to personally take the message of encouragement to a winning national team. Such mark of support has often been a reflection of the collective satisfaction of football fans. Repeated scandals of unpaid match bonuses and the bad image such squabbles have given the country have also offered the opportunity to measure how close the number one sportsman has been behind the game. In 2014 when the Indomitable Lions returned from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil without a single point and with one of the most unenviable performances, the Head of State immediately signed a number of decrees reorganising football in the country. The decision sought to correct lots of malpractices by fixing match bonuses, organising youth football and other measures that could allow the game to enjoy a better management pattern. The result has been the creation of ANAFOOT which today has the burden to ensure that youth who are talented enough to progress in football are given a fair chance to succeed. The years ahead would certainly demonstrate how those in charge have succeeded in making such a dream come true for the population as football fans in the country will want to continue to see the game as a unifying factor in Cameroon.

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