Amadou Togola, President of the Malian Tennis Federation: “We want to set up attractive tennis for all players”
“There are initiatives underway to ensure that training actors are at the center of our activities”
In an exclusive interview that he was kind enough to grant us, the former Director General of Customs and brand new President of the Malian Tennis Federation, Amadou Togola, tells us about his election at the head of the governing body of Malian tennis. , the major challenges he intends to take up during his mandate and how he intends to consolidate the achievements and further enhance the image of Malian tennis.
Today-Mali: You were elected president of the Malian Tennis Federation last December. How did this election go?
Amadou Togola: You know, elections are often the occasion to tear apart certain sports federations. And these tears often lead to the paralysis of the activity of these federations. As you have understood, from independence until now, in terms of tennis, the transfer of power has always been done under very simple conditions, with respect, loyalty and love for tennis. In fact, we are very happy about it. If we look at the history of Malian tennis, I must be the fourth or fifth president and that shows that there is great stability within this discipline.
The latest change at the level of the regional leagues and at the level of the Federation has not derogated from this rule. We carefully prepared the passage of the testimony which fortunately went very well. The regional tennis leagues were renewed in October and November 2021 and the new federal office was set up in December, under very good conditions of mutual respect and courtesy.
In general, how do you judge the current state of Malian tennis?
Reviews are mixed. We cannot say exactly that tennis is doing well in Mali because today we do not have a great tennis player like Rafael Nadal, Nicolas Djokovic or Roger Federer. So, compared to my ambition, I cannot say that tennis is doing well in Mali. But, in any case, if you don’t have these great players that I have just mentioned, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t working.
In general, I feel in sport a kind of ingratitude because when you go to the final and you lose, we rarely talk about you. They forget everything you’ve done before. That is, until you are the winner, you are not remembered in history. Today, it’s true that we don’t have the result we’ve wanted for all these years, but we fight every day to honor Malian tennis at the sub-regional and African levels.
What are the major challenges that you intend to take up during the mandate?
The challenges we intend to meet are numerous. The first is to maintain stability around this discipline. It is extremely important to us. This stability is part of our values that we must preserve. And we will work during this mandate to ensure that this stability is maintained.
Regarding the second challenge, we have a great vision for Malian tennis. This vision is to ensure that tennis is practiced by the greatest number, that is to say young boys and girls in Mali. It is our first objective that the discipline is prosperous throughout the country.
For the third challenge, we want to set up an attractive tennis for all the actors, whether it is the practitioners, the supervisors, the partners and even the sports authorities. The final challenge is to break out of the discipline of elite players. This is extremely important for the new federal office.
What do you intend to do to consolidate the gains and further enhance the image of Malian tennis?
For this, we are in the process of setting up a new tennis development program, the first draft of which is available. This development program takes our vision into account; it revolves around a certain number of axes. You know, the major challenge in tennis is the question of infrastructure. Today, if we take stock of the infrastructure, we realize that there are very few tennis courts in Mali.
On top of that, the courses we have are very degraded. This is the real challenge that we intend to take up by taking all the initiatives to find an appropriate solution to this infrastructure problem.
The second axis of this program is based on training. You know, training is the basis of all progress. It is not only in sport, but in all human activities. If you want to have encouraging results, you have to train. As a result, we are going to take initiatives so that the training of actors is at the center of our activities.
To achieve this, we are considering the creation of a tennis academy, the introduction of tennis at school and the practice of tennis at club, center and league level. Today, we must rejoice that tennis is experiencing enormous expansion at the regional level. You have noticed that often the champion of Mali comes from the regions. It is comforting. Beyond that, we will also invest in the search for sponsors to finance the discipline.
I believe that the question of the financing of activities is a central question. At this level, we are going to set up commissions to be able to work on this dimension which is extremely important. From this point of view, we will also take all the initiatives in order to have the maximum and to meet our financing needs.
What are the difficulties facing the Malian Tennis Federation today?
Today, the main difficulties we face are financial. You know, in other disciplines like football for example, there are revenues that are generated by the activity. Unfortunately, this is not the case with us because the level of tennis has not progressed as much in Mali. That is why we have this problem of funding resources for activities, which is a major problem. We will do everything to resolve this.
The second difficulty is the lack of viable infrastructure that meets international standards. Today, there are international competitions that cannot be organized in Mali because the infrastructure does not follow. However, we have extremely important achievements, it is the stability and the love of tennis of which I spoke to you. I believe these are virtues that we will preserve over the years.
If you have a message to send to the world of tennis. Which would it be?
I believe this is a message of hope. Never despair. It’s true that the difficulties are there today, but the love we have for tennis, I believe that this love will allow us to overcome all the difficulties. I am convinced of this and I am very optimistic.
Directed by Mahamadou TRAORE