International Francophone Games  director Zeina Mina is confident that this year's event in KInshasa will derive many benefits ©CNJF

International Francophone Games (CIJF) director Zeina Mina has hailed the commitment of the host nation and insisted that the 2023 Games in Kinshasa will put the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) "on the international chessboard".

The DRC stepped in as hosts  after Moncton and Dieppe in Canada pulled out in 2019.

"The President of the Republic Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and his Government display great ambitions and a strong political commitment," Mina, a former 400 metres runner who represented Lebanon at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, said.

"The President wants to use these Games to set up sports diplomacy and assert a better visibility of the country."

The Games were first staged in 1989, when the Moroccan cities of Rabat and Casablanca were joint hosts.

The celebration in Kinshasa this July will be the ninth. 

They have already been postponed twice,but are now scheduled to begin on July 28 and are set to include nine sports and 11 cultural events, including visual arts, digital creation, literature, hip hop, creative dance, and traditional Congolese activities.

"The global Coronavirus pandemic has affected many events internationally, including ours, but today, we're on the right track," said Mina.

“The Games are going to take place, we are in the home stretch, and we hope they will be successful,”

Mina is optimistic that the Games will set new standards in sustainability and environmental awareness as organisers work with the University of Kinshasa.

"It's no secret that a sporting event, whatever it is, generates a lot of plastic waste, but we are making every effort towards ecological Games to limit this impact," she said.

"We are going to put in place strategies for plastic recycling and composting, but also to strengthen a bamboo replanting project."

A volunteer training project has also been started.

"We launched a call for applications in Central Africa, and we met with serious success, since we received more than 2000 interested profiles," Mina revealed.

Around 30 young people have already been chosen to receive training from experts drawn from the CIJF and Senghor University in Alexandria.

"I see the Games of La Francophonie as a social, development project that will serve the host country," the 60-year-old Mina said.

"I want them to be able to bring multiple legacies to this country.

"t starts with training, to support the maintenance of the many infrastructures, that means organising other major events.

"To achieve this objective, you need trained people, in the sports field, yes, but also in events and sports management."

This year's Francophone Games in Kinshasa will include cultural events, as well as sport ©Kinshasa 2023
This year's Francophone Games in Kinshasa will include cultural events, as well as sport ©Kinshasa 2023

Earlier this year, Mina joined inspectors from other French-speaking countries who visited Kinshasa to view the progress of preparations.

"Our priority remains the infrastructure legacy of the Games," Mina vowed.

"Kinshasa will benefit from five covered gymnasiums, with a good capacity.

"The DRC will thus have infrastructure whether for basketball, judo, wrestling or even for table tennis, all will meet international standards, validated by the technical delegates of the International Federations."