Let the adversaries be known: Seychelles sizes up the competition after Indian Ocean Island Games draw
The draw for the 2015 Indian Ocean Island Games' collective sports disciplines was made on Thursday. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The seven Indian Ocean island nations getting ready for the upcoming Indian Ocean Island Games to be held in Reunion Island in August now have a clearer idea of what they will be up against now that the pools have been drawn for the various sports disciplines.
The draw was made during the third meeting organised by the International Games Council (CIJ) to finalize details pertaining to the good organisation of the sports manifestation, which is held every four years.
The meeting held in the host country Reunion on Wednesday and Thursday this week saw the participation of the sports authorities and National Olympic Committees of Reunion, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Mayotte and Madagascar.
There are two pools for each of the four collective sports disciplines, football, volleyball, basketball and handball for both the women and the men.
|The draw in progress. (jeuxdesiles2015) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Chief Executive of the National Sports Council, NSC, Giovanna Rousseau told SNA that the draw which was held in the presence of the media saw the host country drawn at the top of Pool B for all four sports while the winner of the gold medal in the last games for each discipline was drawn at the top of Pool A.
“The names of the other participating countries were put into a bowl and drawn out to make up the composition of the two pools,” said Rousseau, who was at the CIJ meeting along with the President and Vice President of the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, Antonio Gopal and Hugh Adam, respectively.
With 77 days remaining before the start of the 9th Indian Ocean Island Games to be held from August 1 to 9, knowledge of their adversaries means the different sport disciplines will be intensifying their training to put up a good performance at the games.
In the last Indian Ocean Games held in Seychelles in 2011, the Indian Ocean archipelago won a total of 127 medals among which 57 gold, 27 silver and 43 bronze.
In the collective sports, on the men’s side Seychelles outshone all the other participating countries in three disciplines; volleyball, basketball and football, while the Seychelles women’s volleyball team won the country’s only gold medal in the collective disciplines.
|Results of the draw for the men's collective sports disciplines at the upcoming Indian Ocean Island games. (CIJ) Photo License: CC-BY|
Drawn alongside Madagascar, Mayotte and the Comoros for this year's games, the coach of the Seychelles men’s basketball national team says this is quite a tough pool considering the two finalists of the last games have been drawn together.
In the final match played in Seychelles in 2011, the winner was decided at the last minute with Seychelles scoring the winning basket on the buzzer to win the match with a two points lead on Mayotte.
“To retain your title in any international competition is difficult, it requires determination… the coach is there to ensure that everything is in place but a lot depends on the players and their determination to win,” Coach Tony Juliette told SNA in a phone interview.
|Seychelles (in red) in action in the final match against Mayotte in the 2011 Indian Ocean Island Games held in Seychelles. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Juliette said the national team’s preparation had started a bit late considering a lack of a coach, but that he took up the challenge in October last year and has been working hard to get the squad together.
“We will be heading to South Africa next Tuesday for a three weeks training camp which will also include test matches…we are also looking at the possibility of having another training camp locally, and a tri-nation competition before the Indian Ocean games,” he added.
“When I look at the players we have now they are individually skilful, what is needed now is adaptation and understanding each other and this will be the main aim of the upcoming training camp in South Africa.”
Juliette noted that the final selection of 12 players will include two of Seychelles’ basketball players playing professionally, Abdel Sylla who plays in France and Andrew Rath who plays in Italy.
|Results of the draw for the women's collective sports disciplines at the upcoming Indian Ocean Island games. (CIJ) Photo License: CC-BY|
In football, Seychelles has been drawn alongside Mayotte, Maldives and Madagascar in Pool A.
For the Football Federation’s Secretary General, Jemmy Adela, it is a good draw as he says they know the other teams quite well.
“We are satisfied… every football match is tough so we need to go and perform,” Adela told SNA in a phone interview.
“We believe that we stand a chance to reach very far… we are aiming to reach the finals.”
In the last games in 2011, Seychelles won against Mauritius in the finals at Stad Linite, the main stadium, on the outskirts of the Seychelles capital of Victoria. For the 2015 games, Mauritius is in Pool B alongside Reunion, the Comoros and Mauritius.
The 20 men selection of the Seychelles National Football team is currently in South Africa for the 2015 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup which starts Sunday May 17 until May 30.
The team will play against Namibia on Sunday while on Tuesday it will play against Zimbabwe and Mauritius on Thursday.
Adela told SNA that the COSAFA competition will allow the players to prove themselves as they will have to play another two international competitions before the Indian Ocean island games in August.
In June, Seychelles will meet Algeria in the first leg of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, and the team will also have to compete in the 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers.
Adela says that on top of the international matches the Seychelles national football squad will also be heading to Europe for more training matches in July and will be coming back just in time for the games in Reunion.
|Seychelles playing against Mauritius in the 2011 Indian Ocean Island Games held in Seychelles This was the Indian Ocean's second appearance in an Indian Ocean games final.(Louis Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Apart from the collective sports, the Indian Ocean island games in Reunion will also feature other sports disciplines from athletics, swimming, weightlifting, table tennis among others.
Seychelles' delegation to the games is expected to be over 300 comprising of athletes, officials, coaches among others.
NSC’s Chief Executive Giovanna Rousseau told SNA that one other important decision taken at the meeting held this week in Reunion to finalize preparations, was to have a semi-marathon instead of a marathon in athletics.
According to a statement issued by the International Games Committee, its members will also be visiting the Comoros to discuss with the island nation’s government and Olympic committee concerning its bid to organise the next Indian Ocean island games in 2019.
The visit will be held next month ahead of the next meeting of the International Games Committee in July.