Republic of Congo: Children's induction to rugby

Republic of Congo: Children's induction to rugby

Relying on children to promote rugby, which lacks visibility in the country.In Congo-Brazzaville, the "GCROSS FESTI-VACANCES" festival, the first edition of which has just come to an end, is already shaping up as a new attempt to bring the oval ball to the masses... just as much as other sports.

In Congo-Brazzaville, youngsters are introduced to rugby

A final leisure activity before heading back to school, they really had a right to it. In Brazzaville, some 200 children took part on September 30 in the first edition of the "GCROSS FESTI-VACANCES" festival, initiated and organized by the Taureau Rugby Club de Brazzaville, a rugby team from the Congolese capital. Although the initiative was intended to provide "healthy" entertainment for Congolese children during the summer vacations, it turned out to be a genuine competition in the U15 and U12 male and female categories. Teams came from several of Brazzaville's arrondissements.

These included Avenue Mayama, crowned champion in the men's U12 category, and Hiboux Hiboux, winner of the tournament in the under-15 category. The young ladies also showed their talent, with Stade Brazzavillois taking victory in rugby 7s.

Whoever wins, GCROSS FESTI-VACANCES will have given these Congolese children the chance to get in touch with rugby. "At first I thought of rugby as just a hobby, but now I'm discovering the sport, which I used to dread because of the images (physical impact, editor's note) I see on TV. But through this competition I'm starting to take an interest in the discipline," explains Nathan Ngambio, a CM2 pupil and champion with his club Avenue Mayama.And since appetite comes with food, all dreams are now permitted. "We liked this rugby tournament, which gives us more confidence to become great rugby players tomorrow, and we ask our leaders to multiply this kind of meeting and initiative," dreams Saturnin Miamokana, a CM1 pupil and player with Hiboux Hiboux.

Congolese rugby struggles to find its audience

Although youngsters are beginning to develop a taste for rugby, the oval ball has struggled to find its audience since colonial times and since the founding of the Congolese Rugby Federation in 2008. This is symptomatic of the failure of the promotional strategies implemented. The challenge is therefore enormous and must be met and this time, young people must be called upon to contribute. "We don't have the resources to initiate mass media campaigns. We told ourselves that we had to make do with what we had. This festival is our contribution to the Federation's battle to promote rugby in our country", explains Vincent Aziz Niamby Malalou, coach of Taureau Rugby Club de Brazzaville.

A contribution that the Federation is far from ignoring."I'm moved that children have agreed to take part in this festival. It shows the Taureau Rugby Club's ability to mobilize people. And we can only encourage this initiative, as it is in line with our ideals", says Elbe Biscay Bidié-Bia Mbemba, President of FECORUG.

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