The World Cup men’s football championship kicks off in Qatar Sunday with fans in Africa keen to watch five teams from the continent competing for the title. Cameroon’s national team, the Indomitable Lions, one of Africa’s most celebrated, will join teams from Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia, and the continent’s champion – Senegal.
Even poor and remote villages without electricity are pooling funds to buy TV sets and access power so they too can watch the World Cup.
The sound of a generator resonates in Ouli, a village near Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria that until this month, had no power.
The Village Development Committee hired 47-year-old electrical engineer Dymbia Maurice to install the generator.
But he said the goal wasn’t to provide the village with electricity, it was to power a television so residents can watch the World Cup football games in Qatar.
He said the generator will produce enough electricity for lights, radio, and TV sets to function, but warned if villagers overload the generator with too many appliances, fuel consumption will increase. Maurice said he has installed six generators in six villages for people to watch the World Cup matches.
Villager Ousmaila Ttoukour said they bought the equipment because they yearned to see Cameroon’s national team, nicknamed the Indomitable Lions, compete at the World Cup.
Ttoukour said every villager contributed the equivalent of at least $1 to buy the gear, which included a 107-centimeter (42-inch) TV set.
Ttoukour said the generator, TV and a radio were bought from neighboring Nigeria. He said some poor villagers sold their fowls and ducks to contribute so that no one misses watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Ttoukour added that some villagers who wanted to contribute more money even sold their goats.
But some Ouli villagers complained to a reporter that one TV set will not be enough for the community of more than 300 people to watch.
They also said they worried the 20-liters of petrol, also bought from neighboring Nigeria, may not power the generator the full month of football matches if villagers want to watch them all.
But there is good news for these football fans in remote Cameroon.
Thirty-four-year-old veterinary technician Florence Wanja recently returned to the village from Yaoundé with a second TV set for the community.
She also promised to supply more fuel should the generator need it.
Wanja said she wants to join her parents, friends, village notables, and her entire community in cheering Cameron’s national football team. She said they’ll cheer up until the moment the Indomitable Lions win the World Cup. If Cameroon does not win, Wanja hopes another African team lifts the trophy for the first time.
No African team has ever reached a World Cup semi-final.
Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in 1990 became the first African team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the World Cup. They were joined more than a decade later by Ghana and Senegal.
Ouli village is one of many in remote Cameroon that is getting power for the first time thanks to the World Cup.
Several local councils say they installed extension cables to scores of villages.
And Cameroon’s government has instructed the state power company, Energy of Cameroon, to make sure power cuts are avoided during the matches.
Meanwhile in Ouli, youths blast Cameroon’s team song, “Go Lions and Lift the Trophy,” as they wait to watch the games in their village for the first time.
There are five African teams competing at the Qatar World Cup – Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia.
Cameroon plays its first match against Switzerland on November 24.