A few weeks ago, the 'Jeux de la Francophonie' took place in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the third time, after the Nice and Abidjan editions, Michel Huet (IJF) was the delegate for the International Judo Federation and the technical director of the event. In an interview with Jean François Puech, editorial director of the News Press Agency, he commented on an event that will be remembered.

"The Jeux de la Francophonie are special because they bring together athletes and artists, which is unique, and they are composed mainly of African participants. Africa has enormous potential in all areas and not just sports. In Kinshasa my role was to support athletes in preparing for the highest level events.

The involvement of the IJF is above all technical for the proper application of the rules of the competition but we are also 'Swiss army knives' because we bring our experience and our support in all aspects of the running of the events.

Our role is also to support the country in managing the legacy left by these Games. Congo invested a lot in the organisation and did remarkable work. For my first visit here, I found a vacant lot, then a concrete slab and, at the beginning of July, the realisation of major works with quality materials. Many rooms have been built, a basketball court, a judo venue, the renovation of the athletics track, etc. These infrastructures must be reused in the future.

I came to Kinshasa to work with the locals who had, since the world boxing championships at the Raphaël stadium in 1976, never hosted such an event with so many countries, 35 in total. With all my friends here, because the judoka are a big family, we overcame all the obstacles, ensured the standard of the events and we trained all the Congolese and international organisers, united in a single team behind the events and for the judoka. It is one of the most beautiful memories of my life.

Michel Huet

In Kinshasa, for example, the very involved local teams were made up of around seventy volunteers. We organised three training sessions, the last one being held at the beginning of July. Our objective was to guarantee levels of organisation commensurate with the event and the requirements. You should know that, among the athletes present at the Kinshasa Games, many will be at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

We had to apply the same standards as internationally, with labelled judogi, refereeing rules understood by all. Many of the athletes present did not yet have international experience. The Jeux de la Francophonie are intended to be a springboard for them. The International Judo Federation is the guarantor of the international standards."

After the success of the 2023 Jeux de la Francophonie and looking forward to the next edition, African judo is on the right track, both for the athletes who have learned a lot and for the organisers who have acquired a lot of knowledge. Congratulations to all!

Source: Jean François Puech - News Press

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