Ambition, training and long-term work: some lessons from Moroccan sports performance

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The World Cup will have its epilogue this Sunday, December 18 with the France-Argentina final. Return with Gilles Yabi to Morocco’s historical performance, and especially to the lessons other African countries can learn.

I love football, without the original, the comfortable version of football from his couch. I am also wary of any temptation to push the economic, political or geopolitical analysis of football too far and forget that fortunately there is still a playful dimension and a factor of luck that often makes the difference between real winners and losers. of a closely contested match. But you didn’t get to the semi-final of the World Cup by chance. What the Atlas Lions did, being the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cupis the result of a political will denied in investment decisions, in sound financial arrangements, in the mobilization of qualified human resources, and in long-term work to concretize an ambition.

This epic of the Moroccan team owes a lot to the investments in the training of young players and to the revival of a sports policy at the national level, with significant resources and monitoring at the highest political level…

Yes, the highest level of politics in Morocco is the sovereign himself who surrounds himself with knowledgeable advisers. As an article published in the magazine pointed out SoFoot, King Mohammed VI wondered about the difficulty of Moroccan football in producing good results, whether at club or national team level. The May 14, 2008the king announced the construction of the football academy that bears his name, a high-quality training center inspired by the management methods implemented in major international football clubs. 140 million dirhams, or thirteen million euros, were invested for the realization of the project, financing and realization by large private Moroccan companies.

Operating since 2009, the academy, located in Salé near Rabat, began to provide the national team with its first nuggets. Youssef En-Nesyri, Nayef Aguerd, Reda Tagnaouti and Azzedine Ounahi, who shone in this World Cup, are all from this academy. It is the entire ecosystem of Moroccan football that has benefited from this investment with clubs winning African titles for several years. All revenue generated from player sales goes back into the academy. There is also a desire to give all children in all regions of the country the opportunity to be recognized to join the academy.

You also say that the Moroccan recipe in the field of football is in fact the same that was followed in other fields, which allowed real economic and social development.

Absolutely. There has been significant investment over the past two decades in strategic transport, communication and energy infrastructures, and investment in education, training and research systems. The approach is also very practical with an openness that makes it possible to find specific skills, specifically for teaching and innovation in academic institutions of excellence, while ensuring to gradually build a network of Moroccan skills.

First, these recipes are not unusual, but we do not notice in many countries on the continent this ability to translate an ambition into long-term actions, with effective monitoring that allows for adjustments when the first choices does not give good results. All this does not mean, of course, that the kingdom is exemplary and everything there is rosy like the city of Marrakech. It means there are things to be learned, lessons to be learned. To have ambition as a national community, to know that ambition is meaningless and only a chimera if it is not accompanied by long-term work, a priority for education and training and a confidence in what its young people can achieve, his children. This is not exactly the signal given by many leaders on the continent.

► To also read: World: Morocco has everything to fall back on

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