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Focus: Resuming dialogue to restore trust

We hesitated for a long time before deciding on the behavior of our basketball players in Kigali, Rwanda. Even on social networks, we preferred to share the different reactions than to speak out. And this all the more so since, today, there are many who think that their opinions are gospel words. And they don’t tolerate people saying the opposite of what they think. Otherwise we are taxed with “supporters“, of “corrupt“.

And yet, reading the reactions, we realize that many of them take a position in a debate that they do not control. A position taken under the weight of emotion because the “Malian is allergic to injustice“. And yet, the state still owes hundreds of millions to members of the technical staff of many national teams, including basketball, football and many other disciplines. It only hurts a few people.

And yet these are salaries, therefore main sources of income, and not bonuses intended just to motivate. In this type of situation, we must avoid falling into confusion or confusion, which can only obstruct the debate. Otherwise, rare are the countries (United States, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, etc.) where football does not benefit from preferential treatment compared to other sporting disciplines. And even at the level of this king sport, women and men are not treated in the same way.

No doubt basketball is the discipline that has offered Mali the most continental consecrations, in particular the national women’s selections in all categories. But, sincerely how many Malians will choose to go to a basketball meeting while at the same time the Eagles or the Aiglons footballers are playing? Sport is the opium of the people. But, football is the one to which the majority of the population is addicted in many states.

The image of the country is above all privileges

But, this should not be an excuse to neglect all the other sportsmen who wet the shirt for the fatherland or to deprive them of their rights. Otherwise, the debate is not at the level of the legitimacy or the correctness of the fight of the struck off basketball players. Premiums are rights from the moment they are recorded in texts (interministerial decree).

Did this legitimacy justify tarnishing the image of the country at a time when the people were showing resilience in the face of the hardships imposed because we are determined to reassert our sovereignty? Mali did not need this bad publicity. If the basketball players are right to claim their bonuses, they are wrong to have agreed to make the trip and then refuse to defend the national colors.

This is a black spot on the page of Mali in the annals of sport, especially basketball. If they had refused to respond to the summons or to make the trip without their arrears being settled, we would not have come to this humiliation. And we would have been more comfortable defending them.

As we defended the players who shunned the women’s national team for the 25th edition of the Women’s Afrobasket “Cameroon 2021(September 18 to 26, 2021). A boycott which did not prevent Mali from playing in the lost final against Nigeria, which it will eventually replace at the World Cup. We personally defended these players and captain Meiya Tirera can attest to that.

Nothing compelled them to respond to the summons, let alone make the trip to Kigali if they did not trust their federal officials. The ideal would have been, since they went as far as Kigali, to wet the jersey (to prove their value) and take the nation to witness.

As the national icon of women’s basketball, Mrs. Hamchétou Maïga Bâ (captain of the 2007 African champions in Dakar, Senegal), said, “what is happening today with Malian basketball hurts“. And to add,since the time of our parents the world of basketball has been suffering. Whether in terms of equipment, organization of competitions or trips, the list is long…“. Nevertheless, the valiant captain,always compares representing the homeland to the sacrifice that a soldier makes by deciding to present Mali. He/she is ready to give his/her life for the safeguard of the fatherland. As a result, for me, there were never enough valid reasons to refuse to wear the jersey to represent the country after having made the commitment to do so.“.

And we agree with Hamchetou that what happened in Kigali is “unacceptable and could have been avoided», if the various protagonists had spoken and listened to each other, giving priority to the image of the country. Punishments ? They are of course heavy, but legitimate given the scope of the offense to the national colors. The soldier who betrays his country by fleeing on the battlefield knows that he will pass before the marital court and risk the firing squad. The federation has used the weapon at its disposal in such circumstances.

Nevertheless, these young people are also ours. They have already made sacrifices for the country. And it must be recognized today that wearing the national jersey is a privilege, but also a heavy responsibility that these young people have had to assume without necessarily having the means. They committed a sin of youth by engaging in a showdown with the fatherland.

And each of us, regardless of professional field, has had this temptation at one time or another. And there are probably not many who resisted it. We must therefore calm things down, sit down, talk to each other, listen to each other. This will allow each of the parties to recognize their wrongdoing, restore confidence and start afresh on a new basis. In a struggle for assertion, no one wins in an arm wrestle. Only dialogue can get all the parties on the same wavelength.


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