$386 thousand paid to Indian Ocean Island Games medalists as Team Seychelles is urged to use IOIG experience to better All-Africa Games results
A total of five million Seychelles rupees ($386 thousand) has been distributed among 140 athletes and their coaches who brought home either gold, silver or bronze medals. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles athletes from 12 sports disciplines will be joining opponents from over 50 African countries to compete in the 2015 All-Africa Games, which starts at the end of this week, in Congo, Brazzaville.
A first group of 48 athletes mainly comprising of the badminton, volleyball and boxing teams have already left for Congo, while the others will leave gradually over the next two weeks.
The September 4 to 19, All Africa Games is the 11th edition of the quadrennial event also marking the 50th anniversary of the games, which started in 1965.
The Seychelles delegation of 110 comprising of athletes, coaches and officials was brought together on Friday afternoon at the STC Conference Centre in the capital of Victoria, for an official send off.
Improve on 9th IOIG experience for better results at All Africa Games
The message to the athletes was clear - that is to use the recent Indian Ocean Island Games, IOIG, experience held in Reunion at the beginning of August to deliver a better performance at the All-Africa Games.
“We want all of the players give the best of themselves. In the past we have won gold in the games, we have won gold in volleyball, badminton and others. It is important that we use the 9th IOIG competition experience as a lesson. Our team needs to be more disciplined, determined and train harder. We need to be mentality and physically ready,” said the Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports, Vincent Meriton.
|The Seychelles delegation heading off to the All Africa Games in Congo, Brazaville. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The athletes leaving for Congo have been chosen based on three main criteria; having won gold at the IOIG, currently enrolled on scholarship programmes offered by the International Olympic Committee IOC or are practicing new emerging disciplines in the country such as Karate and Taekwondo.
As the country did not perform as well as anticipated at the IOIG, the focus is now mostly on the mental conditions of the athletes rather the emphasizing only on physical preparedness. And to motivate the athletes to achieve good results, it was also announced that medalists would receive monetary rewards set much higher than what was being offered for the IOIG.
Fifty thousand Seychelles rupees ($3,862) will be given to gold medalist, twenty-five thousand ($1,931) and fifteen thousand ($1,158) to silver and bronze medalists respectively.
$386 thousand reward for IOIG medalists
Some of the athletes heading to the All-Africa Games had a taste of what it feels like to be rewarded for good performance as the sending-off ceremony was also an opportunity to reward those who had won medals at the Indian Ocean Island games.
A total of five million Seychelles rupees ($386 thousand) was distributed among the 140 athletes and their coaches who brought home either gold, silver or bronze medals.
The Seychelles team at the 9th IOIG comprised of 236 athletes competing in 14 sports disciplines.
An initial sum of Twenty-five thousand Seychelles rupees ($1,924) Fifteen thousand ($1,155) and eight thousand ($616) had been promised to gold, silver and bronze achievers by the island nation’s government through the sports ministry. These amount were however topped up as a result of contribution received from private sector companies.
Seychelles swimmers pocketed the highest amount on Friday, with Felicity Passon taking home 230 thousand Seychelles rupees ($17,767) for the 5 silver and 5 bronze medals won, while US- born newcomer, Alexus Laird who won 7 medals in total including three gold; pocketed 227 thousand rupees ($17,536).
|Swimmers Felicity Passon (right) and Alexus Laird received the biggest cash rewards for their IOIG performance. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY-NC|
Seychelles gathered a total of 96 medals at the 2015 games, among which 25 golds, 40 silver and 31 bronze. The results however were below what was anticipated based on the previous games’ results in 2011, when the island nation won 123 medals - including an unbeaten 57 gold medals, on home territory as it hosted the games for the second time.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands has been participating at the regional games since it all started in 1979 in Reunion island, when the athletes managed to win 11 gold medals at the maiden game.
Since then, the performance went down to 6 and 5 golds in the games that followed in 1985 and 1990 respectively.
The results improved in 1993 when the IOIG was held for the first time on home territory when Seychelles won 19 gold medals.
When comparing this year’s harvest of 25 golds; the archipelago’s lowest count of gold medals at the IOIG from the year 2000 onwards previously stood at 35, won in Madagascar in 2007.
In the previous competition held in 2003 in Mauritius, Seychellois athletes raked in 43 gold medals overall in what stood as Seychelles’ best result at the games, until four years ago when it narrowly missed out on a first place finish winning one gold less that Reunion which clinched first place with 58 golds.
|Above photographs shows different groups of athletes (laser, swimming and weightlifting) after receiving their cash rewards on Friday. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
There were high hopes on some of the disciplines that were holding the Indian Ocean title at the 2015 games in Reunion, particularly the men’s football, women and men’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams. Unfortunately the Seychelles women’s volleyball team was the only collective sports discipline that managed to retain its IOIG title.
According to the coaches of the men’s volleyball and basketball teams several factors contributed to the lack in the performance of their players.
“In general, I am quite satisfied with our performance…On the other hand, a lot more factors contributed to our dissatisfaction, such as the welcome, accommodation was not what we were expecting,” the men’s basketball coach Tony Juliette told SNA in an interview.
“The team that was more prepared for us was Reunion Island; they even had five professional players playing in France…”
The men’s basketball that also had two of Seychelles professional players in the team only managed a bronze medal at this year’s games, while the men’s volleyball had to be content with the silver medal losing their title to Reunion island.
“Our aim was to defend our gold medal won at the 8th IOIG games. We were able to push through to the finals but it was not at every moment that we played as a team. We were not playing a collective game, I think this is why we lost the game. Yes we lost our tittle, but the team worked hard to even achieve a silver medal,” said Francois Ally who had the task of coaching the men’s volleyball team.
“There were various other factors that contributed to our poor performance; we had players that had difficulty getting release for training, not enough friendly matches, not having equipment on time and more.”
Both Juliette and Ally have suggested that the recruitment of young talents and training for the next games should start immediately; a view also echoed by the sports minister.
“The 9th edition of the IOIG showed us that we cannot rely on the success of the 8th game. We cannot rely on past success. Each time we go out and fight, we must fight as if there were nothing behind us, because our opponents are ready for us. Preparation for the 10th IOIG must begin now, NCC, the government and federations must take things seriously. There is no more easy game, let’s not use the size of our country as an excuse; we are now competing in the big categories,” Meriton said on Friday.
|The Seychelles women's volleyball team was the only collective sports that brought home gold medals. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
According to the Director for Youth Development at the National Sports Council (NSC) Robert August the country’s sports development programme currently in place has catered for most of the current group of athletes who represented Seychelles at the last Games.
“Except for few individuals, most of the sportsmen and women who competed at the IOIG have gone through our youth development programme…the current volleyball squad, those of basketball and football, athletics, the players forming the badminton squad; they are all products of the youth programme and at one time were Indian Ocean champions,” Auguste told SNA in a recent interview.
“I am not worried for the future…There is a working system in place which should address any regeneration problem should they arise.”
In spite of his optimism, Auguste also suggested that there is a need for the authorities to encourage young people to make a career out of sports.
This he said is an avenue to consider in the long-run to ensure continuity, while adding that the idea needs careful planning considering that a person has to retire from sports at a certain age.
2015 has been a busy year for Seychellois athletes on the international scene, which has also seen the island nation's Special Olympic athletes achieve good performances winning 5 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medals at the Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2.
|The Special Olympic athletes also received cash rewards for their good performance at the recent Special Olympics World Games, held in Los Angeles. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The athletes and their coach were also compensated on Friday, as promised with cash prizes amounting to 106 thousand Seychelles rupees ($8,239) in total for their remarkable results.
The athletes had been promised 10,000, 6,000 and 4,000 Seychelles rupees for each gold, silver and bronze medals won, respectively.