Dear Mr. Ahmad, I am delighted to write you this letter. Since you became the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a lot of positive changes have taken place in African football.
I must commend your effort because it takes courage to bring about changes. Since 1996, only 16 teams have participated in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON). This represents less than 30 percent of the present 56 members of CAF. With the expansion of this year’s AFCON to 24 teams over 40 percent of the member countries will now participate in the competition.
This noble development has already started yielding results. In this year’s AFCON, three teams will be making debut appearance. They are Burundi Swallows of Burundi, the Almoravids of Mauritania, and the Barea of Madagascar. The presence of these teams will open opportunities for their players, to showcase their skills in a bigger stage and eventually get more lucrative contracts in Europe and other parts of the world.
Such foreign-based players will bring experience and professionalism to their national teams, which will, in turn, enhance their team’s performance.
Another courageous step you took was to move the AFCON from January/February to June/July. This has doused the tensions that usually arise between European clubs and their African players. If the AFCON had taken place earlier this year, for instance, Liverpool would have found it challenging to release Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Leicester City would have found it challenging to let the Nigerian duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi leave for the AFCON.
In the past, some players have chosen not to participate in the AFCON to keep their first team place. Many who defied the pressure from their clubs and went to the AFCON returned only to warm the bench for the rest of the season as another player had taken their place.
By June/July the season will be over, and players can happily participate in the AFCON.
However, those opposed to the change of date have talked about the heavy downpour that most of Africa experience during June/July. But, the rains don’t stop the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup from holding when the competition did run through a calendar year. So, let the rains pour while we play our football.
Please, sir, there is a need to expand other competitions organized by CAF. The African Women Cup of Nations is still competed for by only eight teams, which is a representation of only 14 percent of the members affiliated to CAF.
For female football to develop in Africa as it is in Europe, America, and Asia, there is a need to promote female football leagues in respective member nations. In turn, for female football leagues to develop across member nations, there is a need to have a continental competition that respective league winners will participate in. Hence, there is a need for a CAF Women’s Champions League. Thank you, Mr. Ahmad.
By Delight Caesar
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