Why Anglophone Footballers must speak out!!!
It started with Lawyers, then teachers joined the train before the wind was transformed into a tornado by the “common man”. The Anglophone spirit has grown even deeper in recent months that you get the feeling there is no turning back at this point. But for the movement to keep that pace, every facet of the Anglophone community must bring their own piece to the puzzle. And one important group I have to call out in this struggle are Footballers, Anglophone footballers.
Some might be surprised I am calling on Anglophone footballers (even themselves) to speak out on the Anglophone problem but they have a massive voice in this struggle. As celebrities, footballers are crowd pullers and most of their fans/followers look up to them as role models- this is no exception when it comes to Anglophone footballers. Enow Ngachu, Clinton Njie, Fai Collins, Enoh Eyong, Kongnyuy Jude, Robert MbaJama, Atem Valentine etc
If you love football you love FC Barcelona and if you love Barcelona, found in Catalonia, a region in Spain and has been struggling to break away. This struggle has been enhanced in recent years by their footballers most prominently Gérard Piqué who has shared the same dressing room with Samuel Eto’o. Always known to be at the heart of the controversy, Piqué has never hidden his support for the Catalonia struggle and openly declared back in 2014 that he will vote for a Catalonia break away if a referendum was organized. He backed his words with actions when he took along his son to join one of the largest pro Catalonia independence rally later that year amidst heavy criticisms from Spanish fans.
“It is different thing that I also feel Catalan, it was the day of the Catalans and to be in favour of the vote,” Piqué said after back then after the rally.
“That is something democratic and the people ought to have the right to vote (for independence).”
Piqué who has won the world cup and back to back Euros for Spain has since faced the ire of Spanish fans as he has been booed whenever he has don the national team shirt.
He announced last month that he will be retiring from the Spanish national team after the 2018 World Cup in protest to the boos but he will certainly not be retiring from the Catalonia struggle.
Can Anglophone footballers copy Piqué’s example? That is left to be seen. Eyong Enoh is a footballer’s voice that could count for much. The midfielder is very popular holds a cult hero status in Tiko, Buea and even has a very dedicated fan base in Mutengene. Now is the time for him to side with these fans who have always shown their unconditional support towards him. Clinton Njie ought just needs to see the turn out in the peaceful Buea rally recently to know what his supporters in Buea want. His voice in the struggle will be highly welcomed. Fai Collins should be aware that the people of Kumbo celebrated in fanfare when he was first called up to the national team. He should be aware that he lost a ‘Kumbo brother’ in the recent demonstration in Bamenda. He must be aware that the people of Kumbo came out in the number to welcome Hon. Wirba after his heroic exploits at the National Assembly. He would be aware above all that the people need him to speak out and join the struggle.
Next on the firing line is ENOW NGACHU. And I will still go back to the Catalonia example to justify why he ought to be vocal on the Anglophone problem. This time around I will pull out Pep Guardiola from the Lot. Spain would not have achieved the recent successes without this man. He laid the groundwork for Spanish success with his Barcelona team. In fact, seven of the eleven players that started the 2010 World Cup final for Spain against the Netherlands were from Guardiola’s Barcelona Catalonia had won the World Cup for Spain, it was even argued back then. A clean sweep of domestic trophies as well as Champions League success enhanced Guardiola’s reputation in Spain and beyond but he was never flattered- he still opted for Catalan independence.
“If there’d been a Catalan State, I would have played for the Catalan national team because I am from Santpedor(a district in Catalonia),” Guardiola declared much to the dismay of then Spain’s secretary of state for sport, Miguel Cardenal.
Back to Cameroon, if you conduct an opinion poll, it will be no surprise that EnowNgachu will be amongst one of the most influential Cameroonians because of his exploits with the Women’s national team. He has not only brought to light the talent of Women in football but he has helped revived the sport after underwhelming performances by the men’s team had got fans disinterested in the sport. He has been in the spotlight, he is in the spotlight, and people listen when he speaks. Can he now gather the courage to speak out openly against Anglophone marginalization? Obviously, he can. If he and his team spoke passed across messages to stop early marriages of the girl child then it should be no different when it comes to the Anglophone question. EnowNgachu can you please speak up!!!!
Finally, Anglophone teams should come out of their shells- the struggle is equally for you. If you don’t know how to do it then borrow the Barcelona example. We all love to watch FC Barcelona play because of their slick tiki-taka football but do you know they are at the heart of the Catalan struggle for independence? You just need to watch each of the league games to see close to 120.000 supporters fly the Catalan flags in every league game to remind the Spanish government of their right to independence.
In October 2014, the club published an official statement that it ‘was one of the first institutions to declare it was in favor of the right to decide (for independence).” Earlier in September, Barcelona marked the 300th anniversary of the loss of Catalan sovereignty to Spain by wearing the club`s red and gold away strip, the same colours as the Catalan flag, for the first time in a home game which they won two nil against Athletico Bilbao.
Can Anglophone clubs now copy this example? Yes they Can. The top Anglophone team at the moment is Yong Sports Academy-YOSA. Their supporters can devise strategies to voice the Anglophone struggles during Elite 1 matches. Their sister club National Polytechnic Bambui can do same in the Elite Two. However, there is no club club in the SW region playing Elite football, but Elite matches will be staged in Buea and Limbe beginning January. Thus supporters going to the field in these towns could well device strategies to voice the Anglophone problem during the games. All Anglophone players going to the Africa Cup of Nations in January should not be indifferent, grant interviews, speak out, use the least opportunity or gesture to speak out to the world on the Anglophone problem. Avery action counts.
By Ajumane Francis