Sport has the ability to help nations develop infrastructure and build new expertise among their citizens, as was the case when Gabon hosted the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, said His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic, during the official opening of the Doha Goals Forum.
“It was an immense and tremendous experience: organization, engineering, promotion and marketing, building infrastructure, event delivery and good governance,” he said. “It made a sustained impact in many areas of national life.”
He said hosting the event also served to unify the Gabonese people as they watched their team compete, just as support for national teams builds pride and national unity in countries around the world.
He highlighted the ability of sport to teach valuable life lessons to both athletes and spectators. Sport requires athletes to practice “excellence, a strong mindset, confidence through preparedness, courage. These help you overcome any other challenges in life. Through sport, I know that sometimes I can win and sometimes I can lose. It’s all about good sportsmanship.”
In Africa, sport has helped “overcome an inferiority complex and serves as a means for social empowerment and international recognition and respect.”