Tuesday , August 16 2022

FIFA Forward supporting Senegal’s stewards!

Safety and security at football matches remain major concerns in Africa. In 2019, FIFA signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the African Union (AU) on this subject. Over the past three years, seminars and workshops devoted to these themes have been right across the Mother Continent, with Senegal, in particular, becoming something of a pioneer in the field.

With support from FIFA’s Forward Programme, the country recently completed a project dedicated to the training of stadium stewards. “This was the first FIFA training programme of its kind in Senegal or, to my knowledge, in West Africa,” says Demba Sarr, Head of Safety and Safety at the Senegalese Football Federation, before adding: “Senegal has taken full advantage of it and gained more legitimacy [in this area].”

Sarr and his team were present on 30 July for the Senegal-Liberia match at the Stade du Senegal-Abdoulaye Wade in Dakar. The match played out in a good atmosphere, despite the hosts going down 2-1 in this qualifier for the CAF African Nations Championship 2023. “Fans come to the stadium for fun, so it must remain a joyful place. We should be able to bring our women and children here without having to worry,” he insists.

Sarr, who was one of the presenters of the training course, which featured no fewer than 300 men and women from all across Senegal. The training included a theoretical component (90 hours of instruction) and a practical one (tournament courses, match fixtures and other events). “These stewarding roles have been filled by civilians,” Sarr explains, “as fans respond better to them than uniformed officers. Mediation is easier.”

And it is not just the instructors who have reasons to be satisfied, but the apprentice stewards too. “We learned a lot, in terms of first aid, communication and, of course, security. We now know how to adapt when faced with unforeseen events, and we’re able to manage and control crowds and their movements,” explains Abdoulaye Diaoula, one of the trainees. “We have everyone from famous people, authorities, fans and ordinary spectators attending stadiums. If everyone is happy, then we’ll be happy.”

And the fans certainly seem to be content. “Today my nephews accompanied me and it was our first time at this stadium. Given some of the unruly behaviour previously seen in stadiums, having all the stewards here today makes me proud. This shows how much Senegalese football has taken onboard these concerns, and how much it has come on in terms of infrastructure and security,” says Samba Diang Faye, a Lions of Teranga fan. “For sure, we’ll be back,” he concludes.

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