Cameroon may be a hodge-podge of sometimes clashing cultures. But the sense of national pride, brought about by international sporting victories, remains a powerful unifier. Terence Ndikum dreams big as he recalls outstanding moments in our sporting history.
Cameroon shot to global fame during the FIFA World Cup 1990 in Italy . Who can forget the dribbling skills of Roger Milla and his corner flag waist swivelling goal celebrations!Today we look to our new star, Samuel Eto’o Fils of Barcelona.
Our nation’s achievement in football is impressive: a World Cup quarter final first for an African country, an Olympic Football Trophy Sydney 2000, Finalists at the 2003 FIFA Confederation Cup, 4 Times African Nations Cup Champions and much more. As a football nation our next ultimate challenge would be to lift the World Cup. Let us hope playing on on African soil for the very first time is a good omen for South Africa 2010.
A sad note in our sporting history was the death in 2003 of Marc-Vivien Foé during the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederation Cup in France. Foe was an icon and a role model in Cameroon football.
If you think football is the only sport which draws passion and an audience in Cameroon , think again. There are Cameroonians who also have a specific love affair with all types of athletics.
I have to make a special reference to a unique lady: Francoise Mbango Etone.
A world class athlete, she made her Olympic debut at the age of 24 in the Sydney Games and won a gold medal four years later despite training without a coach. Etone dropped out of international competition for nearly three years to have a baby and go to college. She made history at the Beijing Olympics by becoming the first ever repeat champion in her event (women's triple jump), only six months after returning to the sport. Her story is very unique. If Hollywood was in Cameroon I am sure there would be a movie about her.
But Cameroon almost lost its champion before the Athens Games. A lack of training facilities and coaches took Etone to Paris in 2000. In France, she resisted pressure to change her nationality and compete for her host country - a true test of patriotism indeed.
“Sometimes, as an African, one needs more disciplined. Perhaps people consider us less (marketable) than Europeans,”said the national heroine.
Cameroon has competed at several weightlifting events and won a string of medals. During the Commonwealth games in Manchester 2002, Madeleine Yamechi scooped all three Gold medals in the 69kg competition. We also won 2 medals during the Pune, 2008. Commonwealth Youth Championship.
This is a well-loved game at Secondary schools and Universities in Cameroon . At the national level the Cameroon national basketball team has recorded few successes. They won a silver medal at the FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) Championship in 2007. However, with players like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Milwaukee Bucks - NBA), Franck Ndongo (Virginia Commonwealth University,USA), Gaston Essengue (Turkish Basketball League.), Joachim Ekanga-Ehawa (ÉS Chalon-sur-Saône of France's Ligue Nationale de Basketball) and more, the future could be bright.
Cameroon is one of the few tropical countries to have competed in the Winter Olympics. Isaac Menyoli became to first Cameroonian to compete in skiing, during the Salt Lake 2002 games. An Architect by profession, he trained on dry land for two hours each day after work.
Cameroonian sport spans several other disciplines and individuals who cannot be ignored. We can recall the likes of Yannick Noah (Tennis), Issa Hamza (World Welter Weight Boxing Champion), Victorine Fomum (First Cameroonian Table Tennis Player in the history of the Olympics), Joseph Batangdon (200 metres sprinter, won Gold at the African Championships 2004), Franck Martial Ewane Moussima (Gold medalist at All-Africa Games in Judoka half heavyweight,100kg), Paul Etia Ndoumbe (represented Cameroon in Rowing at the Beijing Olympics 2008) and many more.
Cameroon became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2007 and has enjoyed international Rugby Union exploits.
A major part of the celebration of our National Day (May 20th) should be a celebration of our nation’s endurance and perseverance; from the trials and tribulations of it’s difficult past to the successes in sports of its current and future generation.
Ours is a nation endowed with immeasurable talent. Let us hope for even bigger successes!
A very big thank you to Terence Ndikum, co-founder of Happysend.com a number 1 eCommerce service to help Cameroonians in the diaspora buy mobile airtime credits, gifts and a variety of products for their family and friends back home. Check the link here: http://www.happysend.com
He is also a founding member of Holy Moses F.C set up 10 years ago in Birmingham to serve Cameroonians and friends in the West Midlands area of the UK.
Come back tomorrow for more....we shall feed you, yes we shall!