Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has presented a cash of CFA30 million ($62,000) to players and officials of the Black Satellites for making the continent proud by becoming the first African team to win the World Youth Championship in Egypt recently.
“This ceremony is my way of commending, encouraging and urging you to continue to win more laurels for Africa,” the Ivorian president said through an interpreter at a packed auditorium in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital, yesterday.
Apart from the Satellites, the presidents of the football association of the six African countries, as well as Ghana’s Youth and Sports Minister, Rashid Pelpuo, were each honoured for qualifying their respective countries to represent the continent at next June’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Among them, Ghana’s FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi received the highest honour of the ‘Commander of the National Order of Cote d’Ivoire’, for qualifying the Black Stars back-to-back for the World Cup.
The rest from Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Nigeria and South Africa were each decorated with badge – “Officer of the National Order of Cote D’Ivoire”.
President Gbagbo and his Chairman of the Economic and Social Council, Laurent Dona-Fologo took turns to decorate 16 players and 11 officials including the celebrated coach Sellas Tetteh with the “Chevalier of the National Order of Cote d’Ivoire”. President Gbabo said the occasion was for African integration and to celebrate the achievement of the Satellites as an “African achievement”.
He said Africa in time past had produced great players such as Laurent Pokou, George Weah and Abedi Pele but their achievements were personal, adding that the Satellites had demonstrated that a talented group could achieve more for themselves and for their countries.
President Gbagbo told the gathering that the players had shown that when a group of people were determined they could achieve a lot and urged all Africans to be “number one anywhere they find themselves”. The President praised Coach Tetteh for making African coaches proud, saying that “there is no strong team without a strong technical staff. It takes a brain to conceive how a team should play”.
Ghana’s Sports Minister, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, praised the Ivorian president’s gesture and said it attested to the fact that he was a leader who believed that Africans could be recognized as one people irrespective of where they come from.
He conveyed President John Evans Atta Mills’s felicitations to President Gbagbo for honouring a promise he made last November 4 while on a state visit to Ghana. It would be recalled that President Mills presented to each member of the Satellites a Toyota saloon car, GH¢10,000 bond each to mature in 10 to 15 years’ time; and would soon share over GH¢300,000 being donations received by the Black Satellites Committee set up by President Mills to collect public donations.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana
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