WATCH: Morocco wins Ball Juggling show in La Francophonie

Image: Supplied

Image: Supplied

Published Aug 2, 2023


The freestyle ball, "it's too good!" says Fatinha, 21, who came on Monday evening with her family to attend a "ball juggling" competition-show, organized in Kinshasa as part of the 9th Games of La Francophonie.

The discipline is not classified in sport, but in "street arts", which have taken up residence for the duration of the games on an emblematic site in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, "l'Echangeur de Limete", at the foot of a tower more than 200 meters high.

Located at the intersection of Boulevard Lumumba, which leads to the airport, and Avenue By-Pass, the large esplanade of the Echangeur houses a mausoleum in memory of the hero of independence Patrice Lumumba, but it is usually deserted , sad and closed to the public.

This Monday, it resounds with urban music spat out by a powerful sound system and the cheers of an audience discovering these young virtuoso jugglers who work wonders with a soccer ball, which they sometimes replace with a tennis ball or, even smaller , a ball.

Delegations to the Games of La Francophonie came to support their compatriots, but the support was mainly made up of Kinshasa people, young people and whole families, who marvelled at such a show.

The grand opening ceremony of the games, Friday evening at the Martyrs stadium, and now the party at the Echangeur, "we've never seen that, it's historic", loose Lionel, who is holding his 4-year-old son by the hand.

- "Work" -

Freestyle ball, "it's an art through sport", sums up Yacine Saidani, whose "Stylers Crew" group enabled Morocco to win another gold medal, six years after the Francophonie Games in Abidjan.

There were initially ten teams registered for the competition.

Two were eliminated during the selections and there were therefore eight left in the quarter-finals, who met for duels, "battles", until the final which opposed Morocco to Côte d'Ivoire.

The bronze went to the DRC, who beat Cameroon in the "small final".

"It was played on small details, it's experience," says Yacine Saidani, for whom the key to success is "work, more work, always work".

To evaluate the performances, the jury, made up of five personalities of different nationalities, bases itself on several criteria, from creativity to technique, including team spirit and originality.

Cameroonians are disappointed, but happy to have participated in the games. "We need events like that, need support," says Stéphane Mbenkwi, from the Cam Freestyle Ball association, who would like freestylers to be "a little more publicized".

"We gave the best of ourselves," said Ivorian Ignace Kassio, whose performance, as in 2017 in Abidjan, dazzled the crowd.

His prowess and humor more than make up for his short stature and his handicap - an atrophied and paralyzed arm. The public particularly likes his very special way of bouncing the ball on his posterior.

This year it was a silver medal, but Ignace is convinced that Côte d'Ivoire will win gold at the next games of La Francophonie.