24 April 2024

Canoeing has officially become a school sport in Djibouti as the East African nation looks to increase its pool of young paddlers. 

An agreement has been struck between Djibouti's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Sports and the Djibouti Rowing and Canoe Federation to put canoeing in schools. 

The aim of canoeing’s inclusion is to grow the number of children participating in the sport and spot any young talents that could go on to represent Djibouti in senior competitions in future. 

International Canoe Federation President Thomas Konietzko visited Djibouti in April where he heard about the country’s big plans for the sport. 

Konietzko was joined by African Canoe Federation President Joao Manual Da Costa Alegre Afonso, Djibouti Rowing and Canoe Federation President Ahmed Mahamoud Abdoulkader, National Olympic Committee of Djibouti President Aicha Garad Ali, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, and officials from the Djiboutian Government. 

“Our policy is to have as many young canoeists as possible in the capital but also in the five interior regions,” said Khadiga Ibrahim Idris, Secretary General of the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports in Djibouti.  

“With this in mind, we have undertaken a project to develop canoeing from the school environment.  

“We have therefore developed a tripartite agreement with the Ministry of National Education and the Djiboutian Rowing and Canoeing Federation.  

“This agreement will allow us to exhaust this vast pool which is the educational establishments where we have the greatest number of adolescents and young people with structures and supervisory leaders.  

“On the other hand, the Sports Department is satisfied with the working visit of the President of the International Canoe Federation and that of the African Canoe Confederation to Djibouti with whom we explained our commitment, our policy and especially our vision for the canoeing in the years to come.  

“Our strategy is to focus on competitions between schools in the educational environment in order to increase the number of young participants in this sporting discipline and at the same time launch operations to detect young talents to have young elite athletes and finally high-level athletes to achieve good performances and win medals on behalf of the Republic of Djibouti.” 

The ICF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Djibouti Rowing and Canoe Federation in 2022. 

Under the agreement, the ICF will send equipment to Djibouti to assist with the development of canoeing in the country and support its push to gain representation at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal. 

Mr Konietzko praised the efforts of Djibouti to get children paddling on the water as the ICF continues promote the sport in Africa. 

“With the activities here our sport is now in all parts of Africa,” said Mr Konietzko. 

“Starting in North Africa and developing in the southern part of Africa now there are also strong National Federations in East Africa. 

“For the first time an African competition took place in Nigeria in West Africa last year and with the support of the ICF and CAC we could create a hub in Nigeria.” 

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