It all started in 1958 when Ahmed Sekou Touré campaigned so that Guineans would vote “No” in a referendum on whether to adopt the new French constitution or reject it and opt for independence.
After independence, Touré focused on wide-ranging educational reform which included encouraging sport for the masses at a grassroots level, rather than at the elite level. Yet, after witnessing the success of Kwame Nkrumah’s Black Stars and the political influence they captured for their nation, Touré decides that it’s time to use football as a diplomatic tool. His government pushed clubs to become more professional, and none responded to the call better than Hafia FC.
The club harbored most of the names that comprised the golden Guinean generation of 1972-1978, including Cherif Souleymane, Petit Sory, Papa Camara, Bengally Sylla, Maxime Camara and N’Jo Lea. In those six years, Hafia FC became the first African club to win three Africa Cup of Champions Clubs trophies, and made it to the final on two other occasions.
In every single one of those campaigns Touré was a domineering figure. If Hafia were drawn with a nation whose government he despised, he forced them to forfeit the tie. When Hafia lost one particular final, he called the players back to the presidential palace and proceeded to give them a dressing down for hours on end. And when the boys from Conakry won titles, he rewarded them with gifts and national honors. It is for those reasons that we’ve called up Ahmed Sekou Touré to our African Five-a-side team and we’re penciling him in as our midfield destroyer.
This week on the African Football Roundup, we discussed some of the distractions African superstars have to overcome from a personal perspective and how that can lead to false portrayals of said stars in European media.