Diamil Faye on the strength of the African sports market
GlobalSportsJobs: How strong is the market for hosting events in African countries?
Diamil Faye: I think that we are an emerging market […] where people sometimes don't realise the possibilities and the potential that we have to host events. And most of the time people are looking at the World Cup or the Olympic Games and thinking this is too big for us to host. But if you look at the reality, there are several countries or cities in Africa that have the capacity, the infrastructure and an economy which is quite strong or growing at good rate. So I think there is absolutely great potential to host some of the events.
GlobalSportsJobs: Were any particular lessons learnt from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa?
DF: Well I think the direct lesson would probably be for South Africa as a host and a country in terms of logistics, capacity building and so on. But for the rest of the countries in Africa, I think we acted as spectators. We now see Morocco going for the FIFA World Cup. So maybe that's the legacy for the rest of the country - to say “why not us?”
GlobalSportsJobs: How would you sum up the strengths and possibly the weaknesses in domestic African football leagues?
DF: The issue is that when you look at most of the European countries, it took them many years to become real professionals. And I think we're now somewhere around where those clubs were around 30 years ago or more.
We work on opportunities every day but we don't see them. This is why I came into football - because I was seeing things that people couldn't see. I took over a club for two years and with new management styles we're now becoming today one of the best clubs in Senegal. And we're aiming at becoming one of the best clubs in Africa. This is only because we're putting in processes and running it as a company and trying to make profit. That wasn't the case for many years.
And this is one of the reasons why many say football has no opportunities in Africa. But that's because we're running it in the wrong way. And I do believe that there are a lot of possibilities.
GlobalSportsJobs: What advice would you give to young people in Africa seeking a career in sport?
DF: I would tell them that there are huge opportunities. When I decided to come back to Senegal a few years ago, people thought I was crazy and that there was nothing to be done in Senegal in terms of sport. And we've proved people wrong as we're working on projects world-wide. This is because we're using our imagination and because we're also taking risks.
So I do see opportunities all around the continent, even in the poorest nations. For all those young people that believe in themselves to come and find a way of making a living out of sport, then it's possible.