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N°: 198/2013
27 June 2013 [Dakar - Senegal]

SENEGAL AND NIGER EMERGE AS FINALISTS IN THE 6TH EDITION OF ECOWAS TRADITIONAL WRESTLING TOURNAMENT

Senegal, winners of the fifth edition, will seek to defend their title against Niger in the finals of the group round of the 6th Edition of the ECOWAS Traditional Wrestling Tournament. The Teranga stars qualified for the finals by overwhelming the lions of Nigeria 5-0 in a clean sweep while Niger had the difficult task of overcoming Guinea Bissau 3-2 to book their place in the finals of the tournament. Wrestlers from the 13 participating Member States; Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo and Senegal began a preliminary group contest, which kicked off the 6th edition of the regional tournament at the Iba Mar Diop stadium in Dakar. Cape Verde and Liberia were absent. Senegalese Sports Minister, Honorable Mbagnick Ndiaye officially opened the tournament, declaring it “a powerful way of bringing people together”. He praised the decision of ECOWAS to make traditional wrestling a sub-regional sport, noting that "by choosing this sport, as a factor for sub-regional integration, ECOWAS has shown that sports is a social phenomenon, a powerful tool for showcasing Africa’s rich and colorful cultures.” He expressed the gratitude of the Government of Senegal for ECOWAS support in the development of sports and for investing heavily in making the tournament an annual event. The minister praised the high level of participation with 13 countries participating, describing this as a strong evidence of the interest of Member States. Dr. Alioune Sarr, president of the National Committee for the Management of Wrestling in Senegal (CNG) also paid tribute to ECOWAS and described the year 2013 as "a good year in wrestling, with the successful hosting of three major wrestling tournaments which testified to the vitality of our love for this sport.” By making the tournament a regional event, he said, ECOWAS has succeeded in fulfilling their mandate of generating activities that promote regional integration. In her speech, Dr. Adrienne Diop, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender described the Tournament as a platform to showcase Africa’s rich cultural values. She traced the principles of traditional wrestling to the values of tolerance, fraternity, friendliness, solidarity, accord and courage, often displayed in village squares, market places and African streets. While thanking the Member States for embracing the event as epitomized by the high level of representation, she urged them to promote the development capacity of trainers and referees at the national level to complement the efforts of the ECOWAS Youth Sports and Development Centre (EYSDC) at ensuring the growth of African wrestling. The tournament was marked by a colourful display of warrior dances and songs from Senegalese traditional musicians and dancers. In a historic first, a wrestler from Mali, Ibrahima Bamba was disqualified for unsportsmanlike act, after he tried to bite off the ear of his opponent Guinea Bissau's Bidana Quintina, bringing the match to a halt as the medical team attended to the injured wrestler. Bamba, was later declared fit to return to the competition by the medical committee. Mr Francis Chuks Njoaguani, Director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, which organises the yearly sports fiesta as part of the Centre's mandate to promote youth and regional integration through sports, described the tournament as the best organised in recent times. He commended the CNG for its collaboration and dedication to promoting traditional wrestling both at national and regional levels. This tournament is one of the two regional competitions organized annually by the ECOWAS Commission through the Burkina Faso-based ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre. Niger hosts the second tournament which took place in Niamey, earlier in June.


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