This year again, the FIFPro Division Africa Congress in Douala, Cameroon, showed the progress made by a continent that won't stop while it's on such a promising path.
Although, as FIFPro Secretary-General Theo van Seggelen commented, the atmosphere here was relaxed, warm and friendly Division Africa continues to advance with giant strides, taking ever more initiatives, whether at the level of each member or more globally.
"A little more than a year after signing our agreement with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for example, we are entering a phase of active cooperation", jubilantly reported Division Africa Secretary-General Stéphane Burchkalter. "That signature was only the first step: from now on, we'll be developing joint projects with the CAF, and every one of our members will be actively involved."
Throughout the two-day congress the members present, eleven in number just as in a football team, demonstrated an equal vitality and an unshakeable will to push back all boundaries. Each of them discussed the noteworthy advances of the last twelve months, and it's particularly worth noting that Cameroon has now formed a union (Syndicat national des footballeurs camerounais - Synafoc) and that South Africa has established a genuine collective agreement.
"But the other countries aren't standing still. Everywhere we sense the same motivation, we observe the same progress, we see the same advances in the various discussions with the authorities, but, above all, there is a real closeness to the players, which enables me to state that everyone is working in the right direction. And", concludes Stéphane Burchkalter, "beyond the union role, which is our very purpose, each of our members is developing social actions in his country by making use, for a good cause, of the image of professional players. Here too, if they agree to play the game, it's good to establish a relationship of trust with the national associations, and that's exactly what we're looking for."
The presence at the Congress this year again of the Aequalia association, a partner of Division Africa, attests to our wish to integrate social projects in the course of time. "We haven't yet dug any wells or worked in a direct relationship with a member of the Division, but taking account of the various meetings held in Douala, we are persuaded that it shouldn't be put off any longer. We'll be able next year to announce a certain number of finalized projects", said Fabrice Jéhlé-Grador and Franck Rolling, who are jointly responsible for Aequalia.
Finally, it was logical that, during this congress, which opened with a filmed welcoming address by Roger Milla, one of the living icons of African football and a Cameroonian, that David Mayébi, the Synafoc President, should insist on officially introducing one of his union's new members, in the person of Geremi Ndjitap, the former Cameroonian international who has worn, in particular, the colours of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Newcastle. Proof that top players continue to carry the message of their association and of their Division, even after they've hung up their boots along with their other souvenirs. Even if we can't yet talk of a changing of the guard, it's certain that the future is assured.
- Published: 30 May 2012