The Rugby Africa Gold Cup is fast approaching, on June 24th Senegal welcomes the dreaded Zimbabweans. To get a better sense of the current mood in the capital city of Dakar, Rugby Africa interviewed Mamadou Fofana, manager of the Senegalese team for many years :
(Rugby Africa) – This competition with 6 teams is a great innovation for Rugby in Africa, what will it change for you ?
(Mamadou Fofana) – This new format of the competition for the African elite is an innovation insofar as our national team used to only play twice a year and it was restrictive for the development of our elite. This competition will raise the level of the matches and create a great motivation.
The biggest changes will be :
- The number of annual fixtures that will increase from 2 to 5, in 4 different areas with more or less cluster interval.
- The possibility to gather the players during 2 months will enable us to reassess their performance and widen the selection of our players. We would give the chance to everybody to play for the country.
- A better reorganization of the management of international fixtures
- A good training of the management
- Better and increased communication between managers, more discovery and travels.
- Hosting of 2 of the 5 matches in a row should help to reinforce and boost the current run-up of Senegalese rugby in the national sports landscape.
– We are going to receive some of the best teams of Africa at home, will you organise this event the same way as the others ?
The FSR already organised big events within the African competition. In 2013, the qualification to the World Cup 2015 (Africa Cup 1B) was in Dakar between Namibia, Tunisia, Botswana, Senegal. FSR is really aware of the exceptional means that we will set up to succeed on this international event.
– Will you attract a nice crowd in the stadium ?
Since the diffusion of the competitions’ schedule of the Rugby Africa Gold cup, the FSR is ready to start the job to set up a major strategy to mobilize the rugby schools, the GIR members, the clubs, the associations and the Senegalese population.
A huge communication campaign was set up to ensure full media coverage of the two matches in Dakar, respectively against Zimbabwe on June 24th and Uganda on July 1st.
– Is your union ready for an event that big ?
It is an honour to receive such a competition. The FSR will make all necessary arrangements to offer the best welcome to Zimbabwe and Uganda. Of course, it is a challenge, and we will organize it according to the famous Senegalese teranga* in the values and spirit of rugby.
– Did you wish to keep the same staff to surround the team or did you make some change ?
Of course, Rugby Africa Gold Cup format is innovative but the increasing performance of the national team of Senegal is the result of the tremendous work of an administrative and technical staff, stable for the last 10 years.
A call is sent to our expatriates, their skills could reinforce and improve our performance. The federal strategy set up for 4 years has raised Senegal to the 5th position in Africa.
– This Gold Cup will be broadcasted and the spotlight will be on your country, your rugby and your union. Is it a chance or a concern ?
This huge exposure can only be good for us, and have a good impact on the Senegalese population which will contribute to create momentum around the team.
This is a nice opportunity for the FSR is to be on the same level as others union to add value to the work already done. It is also, an occasion to discover the Senegal, country of teranga* and to focus on Senegalese rugby.
– How is your union ?
Everything goes well. We are working very hard for this tournament, we have a roadmap to insure a good organization.
– What do you still have to do before the beginning of the competition ?
Until June 24th, for the first match, we will always have many things to polish. Fortunately, we are early on the welcome and the accommodation of the teams.
Senegal will meet Zimbabwe on June 24th at 3:30 pm (GMT) for the opening of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup at the Iba Mar Diop Stadium in Dakar.
* teranga = hospitality.