The Head of State chaired a world-class opening ceremony of the 10th Women African Nations Cup in Yaounde last Saturday.
Let’s start by thanking Almighty God for keeping off the rains, thus providing a beautiful and stainless setting for the launch of the 10th AFCON, expected to run until December 3, 2016. If President Paul Biya was an ordinary citizen, we could have said he had more than enough for his money’s worth at the Yaounde Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium last Saturday. The technical state of the stadium as well as all its available facilities and the quality of the opening ceremony events led even the usually no-nonsense Confederation of African Football officials to acknowledge that Cameroon had done far better than even the best the organization could expect.
And that is why in this phase of the tournament Cameroon, along with its President, can be said to have scored an important victory. And to acknowledge that victory, the Yaounde sporting population gave the President a deserved acclaim when he arrived at the stadium accompanied by First Lady Chantal Biya. The President then went on to inspect a guard of honour mounted by two detachments each of the Presidential Guards, Gendarmerie, Infantry, Air Force, Navy, Rescue Force and Police under the command of Colonel Amang of the army directorate of military engineers.
The Presidential Couple was flanked by Mr. Issa Hayatou, President of CAF and Mr. Pierre Ismael Bidoung Mkpatt Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education. Be it during the various displays depicting different facets of Cameroon’s history, geography and culture or during the Cameroon-Egypt match, the President of the Republic posited a very lively and participative posture, smiling when the occasion was offered, clapping when need was and commenting with or seeking a reaction from his immediate neighbour, Mr. Hayatou.
Even at the end of the Cameroon-Egypt match, the enduring four-hour stay had hardy taken a toll on him. Rather, he seemed to be on top of the world. After all, AFCON had taken off to an electrifying start: durable sporting infrastructure to show, a world-class opening ceremony, and a 2-0 victory over Egypt in the opening match!