Football - Mali: Redults of a 3-day symposium on the Eagles

Football - Mali: Redults of a 3-day symposium on the Eagles


Following a series of failures by the Malian Eagles in the AFCON finals, the Malian Ministry of Sports, in collaboration with the Malian Football Federation, organized a National Football Symposium at the Stade du 26 Mars, from March 5 to 7. The meeting brought together a number of key players in Mali's king sport to diagnose the obstacles and mark out solutions to enable the sport to meet the long-awaited expectations.

The Malian soccer family is suffering from a sense of missed appointment from Brazzaville 1965 to Bouaké 2024. The national trauma, on the evening of the quarter-final of the last AFCON in Bouaké and, what's more, in the face of Mali's historic opponents (Côte d'Ivoire), calls for deep introspection and analysis. "What could be more natural than a symposium? What could be more appropriate than this scientific and technical instrument for analyzing a problem and finding the right solutions? asked journalist Papa Oumar Diop, master of ceremonies at the opening ceremony.

The initiative for this symposium stems from the observation that, since the 1960s, Malian soccer has always struggled to emerge on the African and international scene. Since the "Brazza 1965" All-Africa Games (Congo), Mali has repeatedly failed to make the grade. And this, despite intense political support. "Despite the talent of its players and the quality of its play, Mali's senior national team has still not managed to qualify for the semi-finals since the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. It hasn't managed to reach the final since losing to Congo (Brazzaville) in Yaoundé (Cameroon) in 1972", Malian Sports Minister Abdoul Kassim Fomba stressed in his speech.

From the National Technical Directorate

A total of seventy (70) recommendations were adopted at the end of the three days of work in groups and plenary sessions. The participants recommended the operationalization of the National Technical Department, the reinforcement of the technical staff with local coaches, the carrying out of a sociological study on the Malian player and his environment, and the promotion of scientific research to boost performance.

To improve the way in which the national team staff operates and to strengthen the quality of the resources that are made available to the team. This is important," said moderator Gaoussou Drabo.

Soccer development

To promote the development of soccer in Mali, the creation of Regional Technical Departments was also recommended. "It's important to encourage forms of soccer that have disappeared, such as school and university soccer, which used to be a breeding ground," explained Gaoussou Drabo.

Medical support

Involving the psychological aspect in the preparation of Mali's national teams, putting in place a medical monitoring plan for players and ensuring the ongoing training of the medical staff, while also reinforcing the medical staff around the Eagles, were the decisions adopted.

The participants also expressed the wish that the travel and accommodation conditions of the national teams be improved through the creation of an ad 'hoc MJS-FEMAFOOT commission, the clean-up of the selections' environment, while putting in place internal regulations around the management of the national team.

Change of Aigle name recommended

One of the key recommendations is to change the name of Mali's national team, "taking into account our history, our environment and our socio-cultural values", and to ensure that the selection of binational players "is in line with our values"as well as supervising supporters' associations. It remains to be seen whether the nickname Eagle will change to something else.

The question of soccer financing

The aim is to promote tax incentives for companies wishing to support soccer clubs by implementing a marketing plan to popularize the soccer product. "There's also the question of soccer financing, which we'd like to see improved, because club soccer relies heavily on sponsorship. And it's very modest in its contributions. But the essential thing is to find solutions that are feasible, and with a little perseverance we can apply them".

New challenges

Although the Eagles of Mali were making their 13th appearance at an African Cup of Nations finals in Côte d'Ivoire, including their 9th in a row, the sporting public was always disappointed. That's why, in partnership with the Malian Football Federation (FEMAFOOT), the ministry decided to conduct "in-depth discussions" with all those involved in the sport, in order to "better understand the obstacles haunting Malian soccer" and find "appropriate, consensual solutions".

"This enabled the whole of soccer to take stock, to speak frankly to each other, and to identify solutions for the future", declared Amadou Diakite, former President of the Malian Football Federation. He added: "If the resolutions we have just adopted are to be implemented, we will have to work together. All recommendations have priority. As all the speakers said, it's a very sick patient, so there are a lot of pathologies, and the recommendations will serve to improve the patient's health".

The diagnosis was thus made. The ailments were identified and the appropriate medical prescription was issued. Now," says Minister Fomba, "the doctors and pharmacists are hard at work administering shock treatment so that Malian soccer can finally leave the stretcher and start the launch pad with its head held high.

For moderator Gaoussou Drabeau, the benefit of the disappointment at the AFCON in Côte d'Ivoire has given rise to a desire to see Malian soccer finally rewarded. And we were reminded that for that to happen, you have to work first. There is no other truth than that of hard work. "This desire to work runs through all the resolutions we proposed," concludes Gaoussou Drabo, former Minister of Communication and moderator of the symposium.



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