Queen Elizabeth II called on the Commonwealth on Monday to show unity in difficult times as she missed a major event for the organization after a period of failing health.
The event with some 1,500 guests at Westminster Abbey in central London was to be the 95-year-old monarch's first large-scale public engagement in nearly six months.
But he stepped down on Friday, raising questions about the extent of his involvement in future events to mark his 70th year on the throne.
British media said palace officials were concerned about her comfort in traveling to and from the service and its length. The queen turns 96 next month.
She was previously seen with a cane and pulled out of an event last November with back problems. She has also been heard complaining of mobility problems.
The Sun newspaper said on Saturday that she had been unable to walk her beloved corgis for the past six months, while the Daily Mail said she had ruled out using a wheelchair on duty.
The next major event she must attend is the memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last April aged 99 and whose funeral was held under Covid restrictions.
Despite her absence on Monday, the queen sent a message to representatives of the 54-nation grouping, mostly former British colonies, which she heads.
In particular, she renewed her pledge of lifelong service to the organization that she made as a young princess in 1947, calling it a "family of nations."
Its role, as "a place to come together to pursue common goals and the common good, giving everyone the opportunity to serve and benefit," was more important than ever in the world, he said.
"In these difficult times, I hope that you can draw strength and inspiration from what we share, as we work together toward a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all," he added.
– Charles takes office: Elizabeth's eldest son, Prince Charles, 73, will take over as head of the Commonwealth when he becomes king, after a lifetime as heir apparent.
He represented her on Monday with his second wife, Camilla, and their eldest son from his first marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince William and his wife, Catherine.
He and Camilla will also be in Rwanda in June for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been postponed twice due to the pandemic.
Charles is also expected to take part in the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, central England, in July and August.
Later this week, William and Catherine head to Belize, The Bahamas and Jamaica, officially as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
But given that Barbados last year abandoned the queen as head of state, it will also be seen as an attempt to dampen broader Republican sentiment in the Caribbean.
The queen is head of state in the United Kingdom and also in 14 other Commonwealth countries or realms.
The Commonwealth Day service is one of the biggest events on the royal calendar, and the queen's absence marks the first time she has missed since 2013.
That year he was recovering from a bout of gastroenteritis. Before that, he missed a service in 1993 because he had the flu.
Royal officials gave no reason for his withdrawal this time, but he recently had what was described as a "mild" bout of covid.
She was forced to slow down in October last year after an unscheduled overnight stay in hospital, which has seen her withdraw from a series of public engagements.
Buckingham Palace said it "will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the coming week."
Source Credit: TheGuardian
Queen Elizabeth II canceled two engagements on Thursday after she tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, Buckingham Palace said.
"The two virtual hearings that were previously scheduled for today will now be rescheduled for a later date," a spokesperson said.
Royal officials announced on Sunday that the 95-year-old head of state had tested positive and had "mild" covid symptoms, but would continue on "light duty".
Her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, tested positive for the second time since early 2020 on February 10, two days after meeting his mother at Windsor Castle.
The queen, who is in her record year of 70 years on the throne, canceled similar virtual engagements planned for Tuesday but spoke to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday.
The monarch and the prime minister hold regular weekly meetings in private. They were held over the phone rather than in person due to coronavirus restrictions.
No further engagements are planned for this week, but the latest cancellation will inevitably stoke further fears for his health, given his advanced age.
As a precaution, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, moved to Windsor, west of London, in March 2020 as the global pandemic hit Britain.
The couple, who were married for 73 years, went into isolation with a small number of domestic staff. Philip, 99, died in April 2021 and his funeral was held under virus control.
He returned to his official duties after his death and when restrictions were lifted. She but she was forced to slow down on medical advice in October last year.
The palace was forced to confirm that he spent the night in hospital after undergoing unspecified tests. Since then, his appearances have become more rare.
He had a public engagement at his Sandringham residence in the east of England on February 5, on the eve of the anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1952.
Preparations are underway to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, with four days of public parades, shows and parties planned for early June.
They are expected to lighten the mood after a disastrous start to the historic milestone.
Her second son, Prince Andrew, 62, settled a US civil case for sexual assault earlier this month, after years of scandal over his friendship with convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
Public outrage on both sides of the Atlantic prompted the queen to strip Andrew of his honorary royal titles and charitable posts, in a move designed to protect the institution from further reputational damage.
Charles himself has also come under scrutiny after London police announced an investigation into "honours money" claims linked to one of his charities.
Meanwhile, his son Prince Harry, in self-exile in the United States with his wife Meghan and their two children, caused a sensation with another legal case against a British newspaper.
On Wednesday, he filed a libel suit against Associated Newspapers over a report on a separate court case against Britain's Home Office and the funding of his private security.
But the royals were keen to give the impression business as usual, announcing a series of royal tours to eight of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside of Britain, where she is also queen and head of state.
Charles and his second wife, Camilla, will visit Ireland from March 23-25, while their eldest son, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine, will travel to the Caribbean.
They will be in the Commonwealth countries of Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas from March 19-26, and the visit is likely to be closely watched after Barbados removed the queen as head of state in November last year.
The queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife Sofia will visit Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from April 22-28.
And his only daughter, Princess Anne, will be in Papua New Guinea from April 11-13.
Source Credit: TheGuardian
The Lagos State Athletics Association said on Tuesday that no fewer than 24 schools will take part in the inaugural International School Sports Championships.
Dayo Alao, president of the Lagos State Athletics Association, told a press conference in Lagos that the competition, organized in conjunction with Sport Business Networks, will take place from March 7-13.
He said that secondary schools had already booked their places to be part of the event, with some from Ghana and Togo also showing interest.
“In accordance with the state government's public-private partnership policy, we are partnering with the private sector to carry out what we believe will be the largest gathering of schools.
“Young athletes would come together to showcase their God-given talents and compete so they could be discovered,” Alao said.
Similarly, Nigeria's sensational double Olympic medalist Enefiok Udo-Ubong, who is the vice president of the Lagos State Athletics Association, is confident the event will be a success.
Udo-Ubong, who is also the director of the competition, said the platform will provide an opportunity to be discovered and nurtured by young people, clubs and universities.
He said that Jamaica, as a nation, has a population of only 2.7 million people, but its dominance in world athletics is unmatched.
He said such competitions engineered success over the years.
Udo-Ubong urged sponsors to enter the competition as it would help young people with a platform to reach their potential.
A former Haitian lawmaker suspected in the assassination of the country's president has been arrested in Jamaica, Jamaican authorities said on Saturday.
Former Senator Jean Joel Joseph, wanted for the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021, was arrested Friday night, the Jamaica Police Force (JCF) said in a statement.
The JCF “can confirm that a Haitian citizen; Jean Joel Joseph and three other members (of) his family were arrested in Jamaica on immigration-related charges," the statement said.
Jamaican investigators contacted Haitian authorities, who said Joseph was "wanted in Haiti as a suspect in the alleged assassination of the Haitian president in 2021," it added.
Joseph was arrested at a home in St. Elizabeth, a parish in the southwest of the island.
A Jamaican police source told AFP that Joseph is "in custody at the moment".
The source said that the Jamaican police acted in conjunction with "international law enforcement partners" and that "joint investigations" had been carried out.
Moise, who was unpopular in Haiti, was killed and his wife seriously injured when a commando of about 20 men stormed the presidential residence and shot at them in July.
Dozens of suspects had previously been arrested for Moise's murder, but much about the murder remains murky, especially who ordered it.
A warrant for Joseph's arrest was issued just after the killing, with authorities describing him as "armed and dangerous." Joseph was an opposition senator and a fierce critic of the president.
More than 40 people, including more than a dozen Colombians and some Haitian-Americans, have been arrested in connection with the killing.
The killing deepened an already dramatic crisis in Haiti, which suffers from a lack of security, rising gang violence and a spate of kidnappings.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has led the country since Moise's death, told AFP this month that he too had been the target of an assassination attempt during national day celebrations.
Earlier this month, US authorities charged a retired Colombian soldier in connection with Moise's murder.
The Justice Department said Mario Palacios, 43, along with others, "participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian president."
US prosecutors said the plot against Moise "initially focused on carrying out a kidnapping of the president as part of an alleged arrest operation" but "ultimately resulted in a plot to kill."
The US Congress on Thursday ordered an investigation into Moise's murder.
The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to direct the State Department to issue a report within 180 days that would provide a "detailed description" of the circumstances surrounding Moise's murder.
Source Credit: TheGuardian
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry told AFP in an interview on Monday that he was the target of an assassination attempt during the weekend's national day celebrations.
“An attack has been made against me personally. My life has been targeted, ”said Henry, who has been running the country de facto since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
Clashes between police and armed groups broke out on Saturday during official celebrations in the city of Gonaives, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where Haiti's declaration of independence was signed more than a year ago. 200 years.
Photos provided to AFP by Henry's office show a bullet mark on the windshield of his armored vehicle.
The events came weeks after citizen groups and members of armed gangs in Gonaives violently expressed their opposition to Henry's visit to their city.
"I knew I was taking a risk," Henry told AFP in a telephone interview.
"We cannot allow bandits of any origin, driven by the lowest financial interests, to blackmail the state," he said.
Long ravaged by poverty, natural disasters and gang violence, the Caribbean nation has been without a functioning parliament and a paralyzed judiciary for two years, and Moise's assassination has only exacerbated the situation.
His assassination six months ago at the private presidential residence underscored the deep political, social and economic crisis in which the Caribbean country has been trapped for years.
While several Haitians, two US citizens of Haitian origin and some 15 Colombian citizens have been accused of participating in the murder and have been incarcerated in Port-au-Prince since the summer, the investigation itself has shown few signs of progress.
One of the suspects, arrested in October in Jamaica, will be returned to Colombia for lack of evidence, Jamaican media said on Saturday.
The growing reach of criminal gangs across the country is undermining hopes of improving the living conditions of ordinary Haitians, who are victims of daily kidnappings by ruthless groups.
Two years after the last United Nations police officers left the country, the prime minister insisted that Haitian forces will be able to restore security.
"So far I have never asked for foreign troops," Henry told AFP, although he said the international community should support the country's police in training "and possibly equipping."
"With our men, with the police, we are going to get there, we have to get there," he said.
At least 950 kidnappings were recorded in Haiti in 2021, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a Port-au-Prince-based organization.
Last October, 17 Americans linked to a Christian aid group were kidnapped after visiting an orphanage near the capital in an area controlled by the so-called "400 Mawozo", one of the most powerful gangs in Haiti. The last of the hostages was released last month.
In April, 10 people, including two French clergymen, were kidnapped and held for 20 days by 400 mawozo in the same region.
In August, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed or severely damaged tens of thousands of homes in a nation still reeling from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
In addition to the country's misery, 75 people were killed in an explosion last month while trying to extract gasoline from a tanker that had crashed in Haiti's second-largest city, Cap-Haitien.
And even as the prime minister reported on the attempt on his life, security officials said 11 people, one of them a police officer, were killed in a frustrated escape attempt from the country's second-largest prison in Croix-des -Bouquets, only outside the Haitian capital.
Three more police officers were seriously injured in the incident.
Last February, more than 400 inmates escaped from the same prison in broad daylight, resulting in the death of 25 people, including the prison director.
Source Credit: TheGuardian
We welcome the UK's commitment to new funding to protect the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa.LONDON, UK, December 30, 2021 / APO Group / -
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has pledged up to £ 105 million in emergency aid from the UK to help vulnerable countries tackle the Omicron Covid-19 variant, with a particular focus on Africa.
Vital aid will be delivered through trusted partners and:Scaling up testing, especially in parts of Africa where testing rates for Covid-19 remain the lowest, allowing healthcare systems to track and respond to the spread of the virus more effectively. This is in addition to the UK's world leading genomic sequencing support. Improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators: An increase in oxygen demand is a significant risk for some countries. Provide communities with hygiene tips, products, and access to hand-washing facilities and support deep cleaning in schools, health centers, and other public places. This will build on the successful global hygiene campaign between UK aid and Unilever, which has reached over 1.2 billion people since its launch in 2020. Funding UK pioneering science and research on spreading variants like Omicron to enable innovative evidence-based policy. responses in low- and middle-income countries. Prepare the UK's own expert emergency teams for deployment abroad at critical crisis points, including with new medical teams.
The government also confirmed today that more than 30 million vaccines have so far been delivered as part of the UK's commitment to donate 100 million doses to the world, benefiting more than 30 countries.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:
"The UK is providing vital assistance to help tackle the spread of new variants around the world. This is key to securing our freedom and ending this pandemic once and for all."
"I am proud that we have also delivered over 30 million vaccines to benefit our friends around the world this year. The UK is helping other countries in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe."
The doses donated by the United Kingdom have reached four continents and have provided vital protection against Covid-19 in countries such as Angola, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal and Rwanda.
Of the more than 30 million doses donated now, COVAX has received 24.6 million for shipment to countries and 5.5 million have been shared directly with countries in need, including Kenya, Jamaica and Indonesia.
In 2022, millions more vaccines will be shipped to other countries, including 20 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca and 20 million doses of Janssen.
The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid-19. Today's announcement builds on the £ 1.3 billion in aid from the UK committed to the international health response at the onset of the pandemic, supporting vaccines, health systems and economic recovery in developing countries.
The government also invested more than £ 88 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, with the UK today becoming the first country in the world to approve the jab a year ago.
Thanks to AstraZeneca's commitment to distribute the vaccine on a non-profit basis, 2.5 billion doses have been used in more than 170 countries, two-thirds of which are low- and middle-income countries.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
"The global pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and the best way to overcome this terrible disease is to unite and stand alongside our international partners.
"By supporting countries with UK groundbreaking science and variant spread research, improving access to oxygen and expanding testing, we will help those most in need chart their course out of the pandemic.
"I am proud that we have already delivered over 30 million vaccines to our friends abroad. The UK, as a world leader, is helping other countries that need it most. No one is safe until everyone is safe." .
Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, said:
"We welcome the UK's commitment to new funding to protect the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa; the UK's continued focus on COVAX and equitable global access to COVID19 vaccines, both through early funding commitments. assumed at the UNGA 2020, as well as when complying with the G7 Commitment with the distribution of doses: the goal of 30 million established by the end of 2021.
"We look forward to implementing the remainder of the UK dose distribution commitment through COVAX in 2022, whilst also working with the UK government to continue to support Gavi's ambitious routine 2021-2025 vaccination programs, from of which the United Kingdom is the largest funder through the commitment of the Prime Minister made at the World Summit on Vaccines organized by the United Kingdom in June 2020. "
Germany slipped Monday into a period of political unpredictability after the Social Democrats narrowly won a general election but faced a rival claim to power from outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative camp.
For a country synonymous with stability after 16 years of Merkel’s steady leadership, the coming weeks and months promise to be a rocky ride as both Finance Minister Olaf Scholz’s SPD and the conservatives led by Armin Laschet scramble for coalition partners.
The power struggle risks putting Germany out of play on the international scene for some time, even though the upcoming COP26 climate summit will be demanding action from the world’s biggest powers.
Europe’s largest economy will also hold the presidency of the G7 club of rich nations next year, and will need a government capable of setting the international agenda.
European markets nevertheless heaved a sigh of relief, climbing after the tight results, predicting that a government led by either the SPD or the CDU would bring continuity in economic policy.
Preliminary official results showed that the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) narrowly won the vote at 25.7 percent, while Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc sunk to a historic low of 24.1 percent.
The Green party placed third at 14.8 percent, its best result yet but still short of expectations.
Laschet, 60, took responsibility for his side’s poor showing and vowed “renewal in all areas”.
But he insisted that “no party” — not even the SPD — could claim a mandate to govern from Sunday’s outcome, as he said he was ready to head a coalition.
Scholz, 63, said the conservatives belonged in the opposition.
“The CDU and CSU have not only significantly lost votes, but they have essentially received the message from citizens — they should no longer be in government, but should go into the opposition,” he said.
Shrugging off the uncertainties in the quest for a governing majority, Scholz said Germany will not be thrown off by the power struggle that lies ahead.
“You should know that Germany always has coalitions, and it was always stable,” he said, adding that he aimed to pull together his coalition by Christmas.
From Paris, French minister for European affairs Clement Beaune stressed that France “has an interest to have a strong German government in place”, urging “swift” action from German parties.
The Kremlin said it hoped for “continuity” in Moscow’s ties with Berlin.
While Germany will keep plodding along with a caretaker government still led by Merkel, analysts warn that Berlin will be paralysed on the international stage.
“Although it keeps managing all dossiers, it loses the legitimacy to shape international initiatives or domestic legal acts,” Christian Moelling of the German Council on Foreign Relations said.
“Until political leadership again becomes available, bureaucracy will get relatively stronger as it aims to conserve the status quo. Given the fragility of the international environment, this is not good news.”
In the fractured political landscape of the post-Merkel era, the most likely outcome will be a three-way alliance — ending the post-war tradition of two-party coalition governments.
Both Scholz and Laschet are wooing the Greens and the liberal, pro-business FDP party (11.5 percent) to cobble together a parliamentary majority.
The two kingmakers however are not natural bedfellows, diverging on issues like tax hikes and public investment in climate protection.
Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock — whose party hoped to do better with the climate crisis a top voter concern this year — stayed vague about her preferred tie-up, but said it was time for “a fresh start” in the country of 83 million people.
FDP leader Christian Lindner has signalled a preference for a coalition with the CDU-CSU and the Greens, dubbed “Jamaica” in a nod to the colours of each party’s logo — black, green and gold — which are the same as the Jamaican flag.
Ironically, the outgoing right-left coalition has enough support to form Germany’s next government, but under the leadership of the SPD.
However, the Social Democrats have gone into the race with the clear aim of avoiding a repeat of the partnership with Merkel’s conservatives.
No party will team up with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose score fell to 10.3 percent from nearly 13 percent at the last election in 2017.
Should the complex coalition talks last beyond December 17, Merkel would overtake Helmut Kohl as Germany’s longest-serving chancellor since World War II.
By Ismail AbdulazizCommonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has called on G20 members to accord priority to the vaccination of the world’s 42 smallest states to shield them fro COVID-19.
She said this could be achieved through a partnership between the Commonwealth and other partners, particularly the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization.
A statement by Snober Abbasi, Assistant Communication Officer, said Scotland made this known at the annual Health20 Summit which was held virtually.
The annual Health20 Summit involves G20 Policymakers, International Organisations, the Global Health Community, Economists, Civil Society and Academia.
The stakeholders discuss and make concrete recommendations to G20 Health Ministers ahead of their summit about the future of global health crisis management and ficing.
“As the pandemic unfolded, we were urged to act selflessly to protect the most vulnerable. As some of the more affluent countries of the world start to emerge from the crisis, we must work now to protect the smallest and most vulnerable nations from COVID-19.
“Only 1.4 per cent of the vaccines administered globally have gone to people in low-income countries.
“I urge the G20 to start work now on protecting the 42 small states of the world, 32 of which are members of the Commonwealth which I have the honour of representing.
“For just two days’ worth of global vaccines, we could fully vaccinate and protect these smallest and most vulnerable nations among us.”
The Secretary-General added: “The hard truth now is that we face not a race against ‘the’ COVID-19 virus but a race against its variants.
“To allow COVID-19 to run unfettered in those parts of the world, which so far have been unable to protect themselves through vaccination, is to allow the virus to adapt, mutate and create stronger faster deadlier variants that can only doom us all to more and longer suffering.
“There is no quarantine policy, public health programme or vaccination rate that can protect our populations nearly as well as eradicating the virus from all our countries through a concerted and coordinated drive for equitable vaccination.”
Under the theme Countdown To 2030 – Turning G20 Health Declarations Into SDG3 Actions and Results, the H20 summit in support of the G20 Presidency of Italy, will discuss what the global community has achieved in managing COVID-19.
It will also compare and analyse existing G20 initiatives to assess how to leverage the many initiatives and turn them into concrete actions.
The “call to action” recommendations following from the H20 summit will be shared with G20 Health Ministers ahead of their meeting on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.
Commonwealth describe small countries as those with a population of 1.5 million people or less; with a bigger population but which share many of the same characteristics. For example, Botswana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Namibia, and Papua New Guinea.
Thirty-two of the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth are small states.
By Ijeoma Okigbo
The Nigerian Super Falcons arrived in the United States ahead of a four-nation tournament, including Portugal, Jamaica and the United States.
A statement from the communications department of the Nigerian Football Federations (NFF) said so in Abuja on Tuesday.
Nine home players and some members of the technical team left the country on Monday and arrived in Houston on Tuesday morning, according to the statement.
Team head coach Randy Waldrum and a number of overseas-based players are expected to join the team in Houston ahead of Nigeria's first game against Jamaica at BBVA Stadium on Thursday.
The nine-time African champions will also face Portugal at the same stadium on Sunday before a game against quadruple World Cup winners USA on June 16 at Stadium Q2.
The game against Nigeria will mark the first time the United States have faced the Super Falcons outside of a world championship.
It would also be only the third friendly against an African country for the Americans, with the previous two coming against South Africa. (NAA)(NAN)
As we reach 50 days to the rugby sevens kick-off at the Tokyo Olympics, the Tunisian women's rugby sevens team prepares to play their second World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco (www.WorldRugby.org), with ambitions beyond Tokyo 2020.
The Tunisian women's rugby sevens team has just spent a week at the French rugby union’s national centre in Marcoussis, near Paris. For several days, the Rebellious, the name the Tunisian players have given themselves, worked with the France team and the BelSevens of Belgium.
"We have had a good relationship for almost 10 years with David Courteix (the coach of the France team)," says Abbes Kherfani, coach of Tunisia. “We stayed put, we didn't move, we were tested four or five times in all."
In every sense of the word – from a logistical, health and sporting point of view – this camp prior to the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco was very beneficial for Tunisia.
On 19 June, the side will face Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan and Jamaica in Pool B. The Tunisians would have appreciated a little more playing time to better prepare, but the COVID-19 crisis denied them this possibility.
"Our last competition was in the African Cup in October 2019," says Abbes Kherfani. “We were nevertheless able to participate in two camps: the Rugby Africa solidarity camp with Madagascar and Kenya at the end of April and the beginning of May, then the one in France. These were the only possibilities."
A Four-Year Trajectory
Fifth in the Dublin repechage tournament in July 2016, Tunisia failed to qualify for Rio 2016. This time, their second attempt, the Rebellious do not want to go unnoticed.
“We defend the Tunisian flag everywhere; we have nothing to lose. Our motivation is to play hard, to play to the end so that we have nothing to regret. There is a whole country behind us, we have a beautiful country to represent,” insists Kherfani.
In this nation where rugby is not the most popular sport, the Olympic dimension of the women's national team encourages the press and public to mobilise and follow the tournament as they journey to Monaco.
In four years, women's rugby in Tunisia has developed a great deal, thanks to the new federal office which wanted to focus on the sport's grassroots in order to expand it, constituting U12, U14, U16, U18 and senior teams.
“It is thanks to this that we were able to participate in the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in 2018 with the U18s. We lost our six games, but at least we were there!" says the former sevens and 15s international player.
Monaco first, Cape Town and Paris second
Among the group he is taking to the Principality, seven girls were part of the Youth Olympic Games and four were already present in the 2016 repechage. National coach since June 2020, Kherfani has his sights sets beyond Tokyo, with qualification for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 in Cape Town, followed by the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
But before that any of that, his side will face three strong opponents in Monaco. “Our first game will be against Papua New Guinea; it will be the big piece of the pool. In the Pacific, you know, it breathes rugby!" says Kherfani.
“Then we will play Kazakhstan and Jamaica, two teams that we are able to pass. We have one chance to get out of the pool."
According to Kherfani "the girls are excited" to play in the Olympic Repechage in Monaco: "they're going to give themselves 1,000 an hour!"