Football-Cosafa tournament was just incredible, says Patel


Mr Patel

Speaking to Sports Nation in an exclusive interview, Mr Patel said the tournament generated interest that was just unbelievable, be it in terms of TV and media interest as well as the Zambian people and the African continent as a whole.

“There is no doubt there was a lot of work to get this tournament off the ground. We needed lots of money and sponsorship to give this tournament visibility. It was complicated to bring the TV broadcasting up to international standard which required lots of negotiation, but the end product was just incredible as it was on a par with the Cup of Nations,” reflected the Cosafa president.

Mr Patel revealed that it required one year of hard work where they started off with only one third of the money that was needed. 

However, Mr Patel is pleased that in partnership with the sponsors, this association has made enough money to sustain Cosafa for a couple of years.

“The sponsors have realised that we have a marketable product and we showed our main sponsor – Castle – that we can organise such a competition and what we have achieved is beyond expectation.
“As a result we have secured their sponsorship for the next three years though we are still broadening our scope as we seek more sponsors. But what is important is at the end of this tournament when we talk to both the local and international sponsors, they were all very happy,” Mr Patel noted.

Mr Patel though accepts that they faced a few difficulties before the tournament started, especially with teams pulling out as well as rescheduling of TV broadcast of matches.
“The good thing though is once the tournament commenced everything ran smoothly. We also had a great host country as the Zambian government came to the party and was very supportive,” Mr Patel said in appreciation.

The Cosafa president was especially pleased with the good attendance at the matches which kept growing as the tournament entered its second week and the excitement level rising.

“This tournament had a worldwide reach as Supersport were providing live broadcast of matches and other media such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Fox News were constantly reporting on this event. We registered 17,763 tweets while they recorded 4,764 articles in print media with 4,883 articles appearing online and 2,752 number of stories created on the Facebook page,” Mr Patel revealed.

The former Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) boss stated that he is very happy the way things went and praised his executive committee who worked hard to make things happen.

“As part of our social responsibility, when we go to such host countries, we choose people from different countries to develop them in capacity building. We also continued with the programme ‘United Against Malaria’ during this tournament. It started as a small project but has now taken a massive dimension. We also had the different teams taking part in the social responsibility programme during the tournament and it was a big success,” said Mr Patel.

The former Seychelles goalkeeper also stressed on the importance of the Cosafa tournament which has been revived this year after it was last held in 2009.
He claimed that the idea was to help small countries develop and get competition so as to help raise their level.

When he was asked what lies ahead for Cosafa, Mr Patel said that he will be meeting TV company Supersport and main sponsor Castle in August as they try to organise a club championship competition for this region with a 15 million rand budget.
The Cosafa president will also see if Malawi will adhere to its agreement to host the tournament which will become an annual event as well as ask other countries who are interested to also send their bids.

Having enjoyed the tournament’s organisation, Mr Patel was asked by Sports Nation to comment on our national team’s showing and he had this to say:

“I was disappointed with both matches as mentally our players need to get themselves right and motivation must come from within. We could have beaten the Namibians but against the Mauritians, the mental attitude was just not right. I also think that coach Jan Mak tried to change things too quickly which was a mistake. But one also wonders if he was well advised or did his other management team just sit back and let him do his own thing? I think that in such tournament one must go with tried players but not try to experiment too much.”

Nonetheless, Mr Patel was filled with pride to see one of our officials – Bernard Camille – take charge of the final match involving Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“Bernard was among the top three referees at the tournament but he got the edge due to different circumstances. There is no doubt he is an excellent referee and among Confederation of African Football’s future stars. He managed to showcase his ability to go further and it is a fact that our officials work really hard even harder than our players and they can see the results and they must always show consistency,” Mr Patel pointed out.

In conclusion, Mr Patel said he is happy of the work he is doing for African football and feels he made a mistake in attempting to be elected to the Fédération internationale de Football Association (Fifa) executive committee last time, adding he won’t stand again as he sits on the Fifa audit and compliance committee.

“I like what I do for Africa and I am happy with my work here and to be close to my family,” Mr Patel exclaimed.

Surely Mr Patel must be credited for such a wonderful tournament and we all take pride in what our Seychellois colleague has achieved at such a high level as head of Cosafa.

R. J-L.

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