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Ivory Coast was recently the venue for the first of FIFPro Division Africa’s seminars, which are to be conducted throughout 2013 in all the Division’s member countries. These meetings form part of a plan for the development and the professionalization of the various unions and associations of local players.


In Abidjan, in front of a full-strength AFI team, Stéphane Burchkalter, FIFPro Division Africa’s Secretary-General, started by spelling out the framework for the two-day seminar. The objective of these meetings is to give momentum to the development of the associations.


‘This is a rewarding training programme’, said a delighted Cyrille Domoraud, the AFI President, at the close of the meeting. ‘This is going to help us make progress with setting up our various programmes and campaigns aimed at players, and conducting a training programme for players whose employment contract has been terminated. As concerns club tournaments, we have learned a whole bag of tricks here for improving our approaches to future members and for strengthening links with those who already have confidence in us. The whole team, moreover, is fully satisfied.’


Three essential topics were magisterially reviewed in detail by Stéphane Saint-Raymond, head of FIFPro Division Africa’s communications department: membership, trophies, and the training programme for players at the end of their contracts. Each of these points was given thorough treatment, and was backed up with examples.


During the inaugural session, Saint-Raymond stressed the importance of expanding the membership, underlining in passing the primacy of this aspect of union activities, and hammering in the point that there cannot be an association without members. The FIFPro emissary gave Domoraud and his staff many useful tips for making sure that ‘players become members of the AFI, recognize each other through the AFI, and turn to the AFI in the event of any problem.’


Among other things, this calls for a theme for a campaign (on a standard contract, for example) that is precise and well mastered by task managers and elected officials. ‘The players are your reason for existing’, he never tired of saying.


The FIFPro Division Africa emissary moved on to the topic of the organization of trophies at the end of the season, a decisive exercise in the development of the association, given its media impact. For all that, said Saint-Raymond, its organization required a lot of meticulous attention to detail and a great deal of commitment. The organization of trophies also called on substantial financial and human resources. Hence the necessity of finding sponsors and partners and drawing on trainees. Now, with its eyes opened, the AFI knows how to get the machinery moving for a year or two, perhaps the time it takes to get ready and to bring the project to a successful conclusion.


The rest of the seminar was dedicated to the training of players at the end of their contract. The two FIFPro representatives insisted that, although for its trial balloon the AFI opened training up last February to players who were not members, membership status must be a condition sine qua non for participating next time. Here, too, the emphasis was on seriousness and the practical arrangements needed in order to win such a gamble.


AFI President Domoraud evidently knew the measure of the task that remained to be accomplished. ‘The work of construction is enormous. And it naturally requires the support of all members so that the AFI can attain its objectives, asserting itself definitively in the field of Ivorian football’, he declared fearlessly.


‘I think’, concluded Stéphane Burchkalter, ‘that with this first seminar we have fully attained the objectives we set ourselves. Not everything has been perfect, and we still have a few adjustments to make, but we are on the right track. These labours perfectly illustrate the feeling we have had for a long time already, namely that we are working within each association, that the progress there is manifest, that we are in a position to learn. Just like the AFI, the professionalization of the African unions is a reality.’