2017 has been a special and interesting year for African football especially on the 16th of March 2017 when then President Issa Hayatou’s defence was caught napping in the battle to avoid relegation in the premier contest as the man from Madagascar Ahmad zoomed past the defence line to score a 34-20 win to seal the game and usher in new leadership after 29 years at CAF, sending shockwaves throughout Africa and the World at the new football dispensation.
The away win in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia was of paramount importance to President Ahmad whose rallying call was improved governance, greater transparency and developing African football from the grassroots up at the Confederation of African football(CAF).
As 2017 comes to an end its important to acknowledge and to note since President Ahmad joined the fray it is evident a lot of positive things have happened in African football with major steps taken in developing the game to a different levels making him the African football leader of the year because of his dedication to football and professionalism as the first step upon taking office was to refuse to accept a salary as CAF President for simple reasons it doesn’t respect good administration.
Previously CAF was characterised as oozing power and authority but that has now been demystified with grace and management artisty by the new administration spearheading a vital transition.President Ahmad’s inauguration together with his colleagues in the Executive Committee has invigorated CAF with new brilliant ideas.
President Ahmad has totally demystified the CAF Presidency in a cool,calm and collected manner he has opened his embraced an open door policy to every football stakeholder avoiding the trappings of power to be a servant leader undertaking reforms for the benefit and growth of CAF.
Who is President Ahmad:
Firstly, Ahmad – who goes by just the one name – once played and coached in Madagascar’s top division.
After quitting football, he ultimately ventured into politics – holding positions as his country’s minister of sport, and then of fisheries – before becoming a parliamentary senator, a role he relinquished after winning the CAF Presidency.
After becoming Madagascar FA president in 2003, he was elected onto Caf’s ExCo ten years later – before, in January 2017, he confirmed rumours by announcing he was challenging long serving CAF President Issa Hayatou.
The 57-year old father of two final words before the elections in Addis Ababa still echo in many football stakeholders ears when he said “The money that comes to CAF does not belong to the people at the top of CAF. It belongs to you, the federations.”This was evident immediately he took office when President Ahmad announced each member association was to receive $100,000 each to help them in easing of some of the financial constraits when doing their programmes.
A good leader is judged by his qualities of following good practices which inspires people to listen to him and work together to succeed in goals which have been assigned.That has been the clear vision and mission of the CAF President Ahmad in a summary of the changes seen since he took over.
What President Ahmad stands for in changing CAF in summary:
- Promoting football in Africa leading to inclusion of every stakeholder – CAF has seen drastic changes since Ahmad took over the house has been opened to every football stakeholder across Africa with changes in standing committees with new and old names involved side by side.CAF is now open to the entire continent with all the 54 members being involved in different capacities and at different levels.
- Bringing about reconciliation within African football and promoting growth and development of football – After his win President Ahmad embraced even his own opponents in the hotly contested election choosing to open new dialogue and reconciliation with the single aim of developing African football collectively without any form of witchhunt.
- Giving greater recognition to those who played a major role in African football – Footballers and former footballers play a critical role in football as they are the main players.However not many have been directly involved in CAF matters but that has now changed Legends of the African game have been entrenched into the system and have been involved in almost all the CAF activities since President Ahmad took over the reigns bringing a sense of inclusivity.
- CAF good governance Reform agenda – President Ahmad reform agenda of the CAF administration to avoid the involvement of politics in the organisation has been effective as more focus has now been channelled towards development of the game to benefit each member.
Focus on growth of Women football – Women football growth agenda is a subject at the heart of President Ahmad as he clearly defines how he wants it to grow substantially .CAF is organising a Women football Symposium in the months between February and March 2018 in Morocco to chat the way forward on how the growth will be achieved for equal benefits.CAF Symposium was held in Rabat,Morocco in July 2017 where all stakeholders came together and a raft of important changes were made to help develop African football.
- Transparency and accountability – The rest of the world has changed in almost every sphere. Why must African football remain static?Those were Ahmad’s words during the campaign period as he sort the Presidency.
When President Ahmad took over it brought a breath of fresh air. There was raised commitment to a CAF that is transparent, that is accountable and that is more inclusive of the actors of the game. Debate was opened and resolutions passed by all stakeholders for larger Africa Cup of Nations with 24 teams from 16 teams,CAF Champions league and Confederations Cup calendars and format were changed to being inclusivity while taking into account about infrastructure development , real development, maintenance of facilities and filling the stadia during major competitions.
. Media – In his new African football dispensation President Ahmad recognised the role played by the media in dispensation of information to the masses.He appointed a panel of CAF Media Experts an initiative to help in ensuring the media is also involved in CAF matters. The media experts panel will also serve as media advisory body for the new leadership at CAF as well as doing other CAF related duties.
. Financial subsidies – CAF under President Ahmad and the Exco offered financial subsidy to each of the five teams representing the continent in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.CAF confirmed the decision to pay Nigeria,Morocco,Senegal,Tunisia,Egypt $500,000 each to help in their preparations ahead of the World cup approving the financial package that will also help to improve the technical supervision of the continents five representatives.The move came as a huge relief and the first of such an amount in CAF’s history.