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The International Committee of the Francophonie Games (CIJF), the International Confederation of Francophone Sports Unions (CIUSF), and the International Francophonie Pongiste (FPI) have entered into a collaborative agreement to host the inaugural Francophonie Youth Table Tennis Championship.

Such ceremony occurred on 23 April at the Paris headquarters of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). Signed by Zeina Mina, Director of the CIJF, and Ali Kanate, President of the CIUSF and the FPI, the accord signifies a joint dedication to advancing sport and fostering French-speaking youth. 

The aim of this championship is to foster the growth of French-speaking table tennis, provide opportunities for young athletes to enhance their global rankings, and enhance the prominence of the Games of La Francophonie.

Revealing what the Francophonie Games actually are, Kanate said, “It’s an international tournament for young people from the Francophonie, reserved for member countries of the OIF. The age category identified will be 16-19 years old. The idea of this competition is first of all to allow young French-speaking people to find each other, gain competitiveness and score points in the international ranking of the International Tennis Federation. Ivory Coast will host the competition from 12-15 December, 2024.

"I would like to thank Zeina and her team. We have wanted this collaboration for a long time. Hoping that all the actions that we can carry out within the framework of this convention, of this collaboration, will be received in the interest of the sporting Francophonie."

According to Kanate, this collaboration transcends mere partnership. “This is a historic moment,” he said at the signing. “When I talk about it with the various leaders of French-speaking national federations, they are very happy. The CIJF has existed for a long time, but today we are entering a new dimension. For the moment, we are starting with table tennis, but the ideal is to be able to expand to other disciplines fairly quickly."

An agreement has been signed with several committees over the francophonie Games Youth Table Tennis.
An agreement has been signed with several committees over the francophonie Games Youth Table Tennis.

Echoing this sentiment is Mina, Director of the CIJF, who emphasised the significance of this initiative for the advancement of the Francophonie Games. “The agreement we signed today is much more than just a document. It is the symbol of our mutual desire to work hand in hand to encourage the sporting talents of the Francophonie and to strengthen the links between our communities through sport. 

"Through this strategic alliance, we are committed not only to promoting French-speaking sport, but also to innovating in our approach to international competitions. Indeed, this convention paves the way for the organisation of inter-edition championships of the Francophonie Games. 

"The idea is not to leave these Games frozen in time,” she continued. “We want to promote sport, Francophonie, the French language, and offer athletes tournaments, rankings, points. We have found the right partners, and I hope our first experience will be successful. 

"I am convinced that this initiative will significantly contribute to the development of the Francophonie Games, French-speaking sport, and to strengthen the role of the French language in the international sports movement."

Mina revealed that the Organisation, with support from the OIF youth sport and citizenship unit, would offer scholarships to athletes. “It is a first exercise this year, but it can be the basis for other events. We hope to be able to support the athletes until the Games and identify good potential."