By Kunle Solaja
The success of Morocco at the Qatar 2022 World Cup reechoed at the presentation of CAF Outstanding Achievement Award to King Mohammed VI in Kigali, Rwanda, on Tuesday.
The monarch, represented by Chakib Benmoussa, the Moroccan Minister of National Education, Preschool and Sports, remarked that his Kingdom sought to make football the driver of success and sustainable human development.
Morocco, whose marks at the World Cup have been unequaled by any other African country, became the first African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Before then, the North African kingdom became the first African side to win a point at the World Cup when Morocco held Belgium to 1-1 draw at the 1970 World Cup.
Before then, Just Fontaine, who died few days ago, and was the player that scored the most goals, 13, in a single World Cup edition in 1958, was Moroccan-born. He was born on 18 August 1933 in Marrakech.
Morocco at the Mexico ‘86 became the first African country to top a World Cup group and also to cross the group stage hurdle. The referee of the 1998 World Cup final, the late Said Belqola was a Moroccan, the only African to have refereed a World Cup final match.
Those illustrated the position of Morocco in African football. King Mohammed VI emphasised that football being a passion in Morocco, the expression of creative skill and talent, also implies a vision of the future, a long-term commitment, efficient, transparent governance, as well as investment in infrastructure and human capital.
King Mohammed VI pointed out that by making Africa proud at the last World Cup, Moroccan football upheld the values of perseverance, self-sacrifice and self-surpassing.
“We are working to anchor these values by linking sport to education in order to expand the practice of football, unlock players’ potential, and support the talents that are discovered through customized training,” he said.
He continued: “It is still my firmly held belief, as I pointed out in my speech at the 29th African Union Summit in 2017, that “the future of Africa hinges on its youth”, and that only “a proactive, youth-oriented policy can channel energy for the achievement of development”.