The city of Marrakesh, Morocco, on 3 and 4 October 2015 played host to the maiden African Athletes’ Forum, which brought together 39 sportsmen and women and was graced by and several other sports dignitaries of the continent. Prominent amongst them were Mustapha Berraf, President of NOC Algeria and 1st Vice President of ANOCA, who represented ANOCA President, Intendant General Lassana Palenfo, Nawal El Moutawakel, 1st Vice President of the IOC, Claudia Bokel, Chairlady of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and Franckie Fredericks, IOC member. Speaking on the occasion, Berraf began by thanking “the President of NOC Morocco and Mr Hicham El Guerroudj, for having contributed a great deal to the organization of this maiden Athletes’ Forum in the enchanting and fascinating city of Marrakech.” He then went on to tender Intendant General Lassana Palenfo’s apologies: “Intendant General Lassana Palenfo, President of ANOCA, who is unavoidably absent, is really sorry that he could not make it here today, though he very much would have loved to attend. However, he has requested me to convey to you his best compliments and best of success. He has the enduring conviction that this forum for discussion and dialogue will be a resounding success for the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, which has got extraordinary capacities and potentials to rise to challenges.”
Lauding the role of the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, Vice President Berraf noted: “the Athletes’ Commission has a major role to play, since it serves as a permanent link between athletes in active service and ANOCA. Work done up to date has been quite considerable. This is a fair appraisal. We have of course taken note of the number of IOC Athletes Career Programme implemented across several African countries.”
Participants in the Marrakesh meeting reviewed the various problems that are stumbling blocks to sport development on the continent. Besides, they noted with dismay that less than twenty Olympic Committees have an Athletes’ Commission today, and hoped that this figure be doubled in the medium term so that there can be an athletes’ representative in each African country by 2020.
The forum targeted a number of objectives, notably: serving as an opportunity for athletes to establish a communication network between the athletes’ commissions of NOCs, ANOCA and the IOC; consolidate the position of athletes as the cornerstone of the development strategy of the Olympic Movement; share experiences and build on the concerns of African athletes.
Participants discussed a number of issues, namely: the role and missions of the athletes’ commission, the career monitoring programme for athletes, the role of WADA, ….
The forum concluded with a number of resolutions, with the athletes promising to: get in touch with various NOCs; set up commissions for athletes in active service in each country; ensure that the commission is represented in the Executive Committee of the local NOC; revitalise and activate the network of athletes; find a means to support and educate athletes and persons around them by being present at continental competitions; take advantage of all available resources to meet set goals: Toolkit, IOC Athletes Page, ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, Facebook; abide by and communicate WADA recommendations; involve more NOCs in the ACP programme …
The maiden African Athletes’ Forum was organised by the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, in association with NOC Morocco and the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports.