I’ve deliberately delayed writing anything about AFCON 2023 until now, whilst I watched the final between the host nation Cote de Ivoire and the nation of my birth heritage Nigeria. What I have felt throughout the tournament is a coming of age for African football. The sheer excitement, spectacular and skill on display for most of the matches has got the continent and its supporters seeing a change in how the rest of the world views African football and more importantly how Africa can and has delivered a brilliant international sports tournament.
AKD along with Best of Africa and The Africa Centre sponsored by the Professional Footballers Association delivered an AFCON 2023 Symposium. The objective was to stimulate conversation from a blend of individuals and representatives of organisations that have a stake in the Sports and Entertainment spaces in Africa or that involve people from the diaspora. Brilliantly moderated by Jeanette Kwakye(Broadcaster and Presenter),and some of the people around the table Eniola Aluko, Geoff Thompson Iffy Onura (Professional Footballers Association), Smade (Afronation), Drew Christie (BCOMS), Ayo Akinwolere (Broadcaster and presenter), Nana Badu (CEO BADU Sports) to name a few. The key questions asked were in two parts, firstly to contextualise the event and questions asked were;
- AFCON – What are your current thoughts on afcon2023
- How does AFCON contribute to the development of Football in Africa?
- Who REALLY benefits from AFCON?
Then after a short break, where delicious contemporary African cuisine was served, we moved on to the second set of questions to look at how advocacy, impact, and outcomes could be met these questions were;
- What other steps could we take to Advocate and Influence Women’s football in Africa and the Diaspora?
- What are the tangible impactful solutions that can develop a more equitable grassroots ecosystem for Africa and the diaspora?
There was some great discussion in both rounds of questions and in true AKD style a safe space with the right energy and tempo was created to stimulate the brilliance of the individuals and organisations represented in the room. The shared ambition to realise the greatness that should be available to African football in Africa and the associated benefits of it uplifting the continent and its nations was abundantly evident. To ensure the momentum of bringing together this exceptional group of people together in a space with a topic special to everyone, a white paper will be produced over the coming months of which further discussion will be had with real practical applications being made to realise the art of the possible.
To finish the occasion guests were invited to stay on and watch the semi-final matches of Nigeria v South Africa and Ivory Coast v Congo. The raucous that was generated in the beautiful Africa Centre was epic and the fanatical analysis of every kick of every ball by all fans was pure joyess, laughter, and camaraderie. This was an occasion to be celebrated and congratulated as those who brought the symposium together really have a huge challenge ahead, but with the power of collaboration and vision this will not be a one-off but the start of a movement to make effective positive change happen for Africa and its diaspora.