PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Notes from Cairo

We have had a fruitful interaction in the last few days among leaders of the African game at the 13th CAF Extraordinary Congress. It is always refreshing to network and brainstorm on the future of the African game. Given some of the key resolutions of the congress, we have every reason to be hopeful about the future of the African game.

Followers of the game may already know that there is a global debate of a biennial FIFA World Cup that CAF has unanimously backed. It was a decision that was heavily interrogated among the membership with an eye on the long-term benefits for the African game.

The CAF Congress also proposed a Pan-African Super League that will be moulded in the lines of the well-known UEFA Champions League. It is not a replica, but we are using the example of the UEFA Champions League for ease of reference.

A presentation was made on the material benefits of a Pan-African Super League in developing African football. The Member Associations unanimously backed the proposal for an establishment of a Pan-African Super League

Members also discussed several matters relating to the development of football. There were also a number of presentations from various experts including Arsene Wenger, the FIFA Chief of Global Football Development.

Additionally, FIFA and CAF signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will pioneer a new era in the advancement of professional refereeing in Africa. The MoU was signed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Dr Patrice Motsepe.

The anchor of the agreement is Refereeing “Star Project” – an initiative that aims to produce world class referees from the African continent and also contribute towards the development of referees in the 54 CAF Member Associations.

FIFA Chairman of Referees, Pierluigi Collina made a presentation to the Extraordinary General Assembly on the FIFA ‘Refereeing Star Project.

He said: “FIFA is dedicated to supporting the African refereeing stars of today, but also to develop the CAF refereeing stars of tomorrow. To achieve that, FIFA and CAF want to identify 24 top candidates from across Africa, men and women, to participate in this project. We strongly believe that these referees will not only further professionalise refereeing in Africa, but they will also give something back to the young referees in their member association so, in a way, they can eventually become the instructors themselves.”

Refereeing is a matter that is close to Zambian hearts with some of our whistle-men flying our flag high. Back home, we just concluded training for junior referees trained by FIFA instructors. This is tied to our 10-year strategic plan that seeks to change the face of our game. We are also happy to have wound a five-day training for 30 teachers drawn from all the provinces drilled by FIFA as part the implementation of the grassroots schools’ program. the teachers were recommended by the Ministry of Education who a very strategic partner in the tripartite agreement that has the Ministry of Arts and Sports. It is only through sustained investment in youth and development structures that we will grow our game further. We will not tire from investing on our grassroots as it is the only way we will return to the summit of the continental game.

I was privileged to present the CAF budget in my capacity as vice president of the Finance Committee which is pegged at USD134 million. A breakdown of the numbers points to greater benefits for the membership going into the 2022 calendar.

Have a blessed week and remember to observe all the Covid-19 guidelines.

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