President Gbagbo Rewards Satellites

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has presented a cash of CFA30 million ($62,000) to players and officials of the Black Satellites for making the continent proud by becoming the first African team to win the World Youth Championship in Egypt recently. �This ceremony is my way of commending, encouraging and urging you to continue to win more laurels for Africa,� the Ivorian president said through an interpreter at a packed auditorium in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital, yesterday. Apart from the Satellites, the presidents of the football association of the six African countries, as well as Ghana�s Youth and Sports Minister, Rashid Pelpuo, were each honoured for qualifying their respective countries to represent the continent at next June�s FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Among them, Ghana�s FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi received the highest honour of the �Commander of the National Order of Cote d�Ivoire�, for qualifying the Black Stars back-to-back for the World Cup. The rest from Algeria, Cote d�Ivoire, Cameroun, Nigeria and South Africa were each decorated with badge � �Officer of the National Order of Cote D�Ivoire�. President Gbagbo and his Chairman of the Economic and Social Council, Laurent Dona-Fologo took turns to decorate 16 players and 11 officials including the celebrated coach Sellas Tetteh with the �Chevalier of the National Order of Cote d�Ivoire�. President Gbabo said the occasion was for African integration and to celebrate the achievement of the Satellites as an �African achievement�. He said Africa in time past had produced great players such as Laurent Pokou, George Weah and Abedi Pele but their achievements were personal, adding that the Satellites had demonstrated that a talented group could achieve more for themselves and for their countries. President Gbagbo told the gathering that the players had shown that when a group of people were determined they could achieve a lot and urged all Africans to be �number one anywhere they find themselves�. The President praised Coach Tetteh for making African coaches proud, saying that �there is no strong team without a strong technical staff. It takes a brain to conceive how a team should play�. Ghana�s Sports Minister, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, praised the Ivorian president�s gesture and said it attested to the fact that he was a leader who believed that Africans could be recognized as one people irrespective of where they come from. He conveyed President John Evans Atta Mills�s felicitations to President Gbagbo for honouring a promise he made last November 4 while on a state visit to Ghana. It would be recalled that President Mills presented to each member of the Satellites a Toyota saloon car, GH�10,000 bond each to mature in 10 to 15 years� time; and would soon share over GH�300,000 being donations received by the Black Satellites Committee set up by President Mills to collect public donations.