While Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria were forced to pack their bags and leave this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ earlier than they had hoped, African women nevertheless remain well-represented in the press boxes of Germany’s football stadiums.
The situation has certainly changed for the better since the 2006 launch of the ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ development programme, an initiative set in motion with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ in mind (for more information, please click on the ‘African journalists train for the FIFA World Cup’ link on the right).
FIFA and the AFP Foundation have continued with their efforts to help media representatives all over the globe increase their knowledge and perfect their techniques of covering high-profile sporting events. Alain Boebion, a former AFP director who now works as an independent consultant for the Foundation, has been closely involved in the African project, which he considers to be extremely important.
“We trained nearly 270 journalists ahead of the World Cup in South Africa,” he said, adding, “It was a great success, but we didn’t want to stop there. So when representatives of the African Women’s Sports Reporters Union (UFRESA) got in touch with us to ask if we would keep it going up to Germany 2011, we drew up a plan in tandem with FIFA, and it all came together.”
This time around, the project focused on female reporters, providing them with the ideal training for working at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Classes, talks and workshops were held during two distinct phases. The first, run jointly in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dakar, Senegal, was held at the end of 2010. The latter city was the sole venue for the second stage, which included an unexpected benefit for some delegates.
“There were 80 attendees in Dakar, and at the end of the session we decided to offer plane tickets to the five most deserving candidates, those that needed to get to Germany to cover the event, where they could apply all that they’d just learned,” explained Boebion.
One of the delighted recipients of this bonus was Cameroonian Bertille Bikoun, editor of Mutations, a daily newspaper based in Yaounde. “I’d already taken part in the training courses prior to South Africa 2010, and when I heard about the project being extended to women, I applied, and now here I am in Germany,” she explained.
“The most important thing I took away from the sessions was the work we did in real time, which taught us how to send back a match report just five minutes after the final whistle. I also learned how to better prepare for interviews in advance – some excellent methods for carrying out high-quality interviews were demonstrated,” Bikoun continued.
The African correspondent has had the opportunity to cover the entire event, and has been particularly impressed with what she has seen both on and off the pitch: “The way that everything has been run so perfectly, with packed stadiums full of both men and women, has really surprised and enlightened me.”
The team she was supporting, Nigeria, were unfortunately knocked out at the group stage, but Bikoun has a feeling the Super Falcons will be back. “They’re a young team that lacks experience, but they showed they could play and have a great future ahead of them. It’s actually comparable with my situation: I was well-prepared for this World Cup thanks to the training I received, but there’s no better way to put into practice and perfect what you’ve learned than the actual event itself,” she concluded.