Russian‭ ‬Minister‭ ‬of‭ ‬Sports‭, ‬Oleg‭ ‬Matytsin

Summit: Sports to build bridge between Russia, Africa – Matytsin

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By Salif Atojoko

Russian Minister of Sports, Oleg Matytsin, said expanding cooperation with African countries in high-performance and mass sports would build a bridge between Russia and Africa.

Matytsin said this in a statement released by Roscongress, organisers of the Second Russia-Africa Summit 2023, on Monday.

He said this could be achieved through the World Friendship Games, educational programmes and joint training camps.

Matytsin made the remarks at a panel session titled: “Sport: A Bridge of Friendship between Russia and Africa,” at the Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Today, Russia is ready to offer a smart, competitive sports strategy for African countries, as well as a roadmap for its implementation.

“We propose to expand and organise joint training camps at Russian federal sports bases, conduct educational programmesfor African specialists, and send Russian coaches to prepareAfrican athletes for major international events.

“Nelson Mandela, a great sports fan and a great man, once said: ‘Sport has the power to change the world. Sport has the power to inspire.

“It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination’,” said Matytsin.

Irina Viner, President of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, expressed readiness to work with African athletes.

“Africa is very important to us now. It is a continent with brilliant athletes. There is a huge potential in sports there, including rhythmic gymnastics.

“I have always dreamed of having a girl from Africa on my team. We can offer our theories and practices of sports development,” said Viner.

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Umar Kremlev, President, International Boxing Association, noted that sport should unite people.

“When you take the flag away from an athlete, you humiliate them, because athletes compete on behalf of their nations.

“He feels pride precisely because his national anthem is being played and the flag is being raised. Let’s take our responsibilities seriously,” Kremlev said.

Alexey Sorokin, Head of the Organising Committee of the World Friendship Games Games, said the games would be a large-scale tournament in which all athletes would perform under the flags of their countries.

“We feel the demand for new competitions where there is no place for slogans and politics, where it is all about sport. That is why we created the Friendship Games, a multi-sport tournament in 27 athletic disciplines.

“These competitions will unite all countries that want to participate without regard to political views. The only criterion in these Games is sporting achievements.

“This is not an alternative to the existing formats, but a powerful addition to them with a significant prize fund. The tournament will be held from Sept. 15 to Sept. 29 2024 in Moscow and St. Petersburg,” said Sorokin.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov, President of the Russian Olympic Committee, was emphatic that sport was an avenue to eliminate discrimination.

“Sport is one of the most important components of humanitarian cooperation between our countries.

“As a trendsetter in sport, Russia is always ready to share its practices. In this part, it is very telling that a friend in need is not just in their words, but in their actions.

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“We understand now who our real friends are, and who has been pretending to be,” said Pozdnyakov.

Adam Mthethwa, President, Eswatini Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, agreed that Russia had great experience in training athletes.

“Cooperation with Russia inspires our athletes as your country is known for great achievements in sport.

“When Namibia was just on the road to independence, Russia supported us as a friend. And we appreciate that very much.

“When we got our independence, Russia was also with us. And this relationship has lasted for a long time,” said Abner Xoagub, President, Namibia National Olympic Committee.

Alioune Traore, Technical Director of the Malian National Olympic Committee, said: “Our dream is to win medals at the Olympics through cooperation with Russia. I hope that Russia will help us to achieve this goal.” (NAN) (

Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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