Sports and Unity for the Guinean Community
by Mohamed Toure & Saidou Toure
Memorial Day Weekend 2012 marked the 8th annual gathering of Guinean diaspora communities living in the United States. Guineans from around the country, young and old, all flocked to the Washington, D.C. metro area to attend the Guinean Soccer Tournament. The event was launched 8 years ago with the intent of bringing Guineans living in the US together once a year. This year, the event was a great success, as evidenced by a huge turnout, particularly of younger crowds.
Soirées were scheduled around the event, and took place during the three evenings of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Enthusiastic gentlemen and ladies showcased their finest threads, traditional Guinean wear and gala attire alike. The soccer matches were played on Saturday and Sunday during the day, on the turf of the Comcast Center, at the University of Maryland, College Park. The tournament ended on Sunday evening, with a match for veteran players from previous years, the final match between the finalists, and a ceremony to present the cup to the winning team. The final contest took place between New Jersey and Georgia (Atlanta). The match was long, going beyond the clock into over time, as the two teams put on a spirited performance in search of the championship cup. In the end, New Jersey prevailed by a point in the penalty kicks.
In previous years, the tournament, which started in Georgia in 2005, was subsequently hosted in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. This year, the tournament returned to Washington, D.C. one more. Compared to previous tournaments, this year’s crowd was significantly younger. Even the players on the teams seemed to be getting younger, particularly on the New York roster.
Members of several Guinean organizations in North America were present at the event; notably, members of Promo Guinée and Action Guinea came to show their support for the event. Many women also attended the event with young children, including Alliance Guinea’s very own, Jennifer Swift-Morgan, with her 1-year-old daughter, Lucie. Fellow members of the Alliance Guinea steering committee, Al-Houssaine Bah and Mohamed Toure were in attendance as well.
A Guinean-Canadian team also made its way down from Montreal for the first time to compete in this year’s tournament. These may be positive indicators that the Guinean diaspora in North America is flourishing, and Guinean authorities seem to have taking notice: Salifou “Super V” Camara, the head of the Guinean Football Federation (FEGUIFOOT) also made his way in from Guinea to attend the event. The current Guinean Ambassador to the United States, Blaise Cherif, and the leader of the the Guinean community in DMV metropolitan areas, officiated the event.
In coming years, it will be interesting to see how the organizers of the tournament manage attract more Guinean diaspora communities in North America, as well as friends of Guinea and ordinary American citizens interested in Guinea. The tournament still holds a large and untapped networking potential for Guinean community organizers and activists who are interested in advancing the interests of the Guinean diaspora community in North America. In the meantime, the turnout of this year’s event leaves little room to doubt that a young and vibrant community is growing in the United States.
Your comments and feedback are appreciated. To engage in further discussion with contributors to this post and/or members of the steering committee, follow us on twitter: @AllianceGuinea and @MohamedToure