CAPE TOWN, South Africa, January 22, 2018/ -- 2018 New Year’ Message from Abdelaziz Bougja, President of Rugby Africa:
Bonne année, Happy New Year, سنة سعيدة , Heri za mwaka mpya
On behalf of the Executive Committee and all of the staff of Rugby Africa, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and congratulate you for the work accomplished: awareness of our sport is growing throughout the continent and this is largely due to your work on the ground.
At the start of this new year, it is important to look back over the past year and highlight our successes and challenges:
The first point to note for 2017 is that more than 400 000 children were involved in the Get Into Rugby program across the continent. I am sure that among them we will find the future stars of African rugby but this program also allows us to raise awareness of our sport with adults who may one day become players, parents of players, federation officials, fans or even sponsors.
Also in 2017, the nine employees of Rugby Africa traveled all over the continent to train coaches, doctors, teachers and trainers who will support the best possible conditions for the playing of rugby. The well-being of the players is of utmost importance to us and will always remain a key element of our strategy.
Last but not least, Rugby Africa organized seven amazing competitions in 2017. For the first time ever, the Rugby Africa Gold Cup was broadcast live by our partner, Kwese Sports, with viewership of more than 500 000 on all the channels where it was available. The level of our best rugby competitions is improving from year on year as is the juniors and rugby sevens and soon Africa will become the preeminent continent on the international scene.
Of course, the work does not end there and 2018 will be a pivotal year, with the final qualification stage for the 2019 World Cup taking place in Japan. I wish the best of luck to the six participating teams competing for a place in the World Cup and the final spot in the repechages.
In 2018, we will also be paying special attention to women's rugby. We must aim high and undertake the necessary initiatives to facilitate access by African women to our sport. In addition we must maintain our development and training efforts.
I will conclude with my vision for African rugby by 2030: We must first distinguish ourselves through the quality of our governance and our rugby institutions. We need to make our sport even more accessible and to break the symbolic barrier of two million players across the continent. Finally, and I stress this point strongly, rugby in Africa must be the embodiment of our values of solidarity, development, discipline, family, passion and respect.
Together, we are designing the Africa of tomorrow.
I'm counting on you and your good work.
Yours in rugby,
President of Rugby Africa