Society and Culture
|Beauty Spots and Monuments||Festivals|
The history of sports in Morocco does not start with the independence of the country. It goes back to the colonial time (French Protectorate: 1912-1956) when an armada of top Moroccan athletes, who were operating in France, realized glorious achievements withFrench clubs in different disciplines.Football, the most popular game in the country, knew outstanding players: Larbi Benmbarek, alias the black pearl, A. Belmahjoub, the prince of Princes Park, Hassan Akesbi, Tatom etc.In athletics, Morocco picked up its first Olympic medal during the 1962 Games in Rome.
If football is the sport which attracts a considerable number of fans and spectators in Morocco, athletics, on the other hand, remains the most awarded and richest discipline in terms of titles and medals.
Since Morocco’s independence, several projects have been carried out in all the public life sectors including sport.
Morocco won its first Olympic medal after its independence at the 1962 Games thanks to Abdeslam Radi who got a bronze medal.However, the real change took place in the 1980s with the emergence of a new generation of athletes and high-level technicians.Among these athletes, it is worth mentioning Saïd Aouita, the winner of the first Moroccan golden medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.Nawal Moutawakil is the first Arab African and Muslim woman to stand on the podium at the same games. Brahim Boutayeb is the 10000 metres champion at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Khalid Sekkah is the Cross-country world champion for many times…
Saïd Aouita was a very ambitious athlete. By the end of the 1980s, he began beating the world records one after the other from 1500 until 5000 metre distances.
The retirement of the aforementioned athletes was not felt since the continuity was already assured and the national athletics did not suffer from the gap left by Saïd Aouita and company. Young athletes like Hicham El Guerrouj, Nezha Bidouane, Brahim Boulami and Hasna Benhassi were able to take up the torch of the Moroccan athletics since the beginning of 1990s.
Hicham El Gerrouj, following the path of Saïd Aouita, beat all the middle-distance records including 1500, 3000 metres and the mile. But his best performance remains his double title in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens when he won the golden medal in the 1500 and 5000 metres.
Nezha Bidouane, ex-world champion of the 400 metre hurdles, is the only athlete who was able to compete with the Americans and Europeans for a long time.
The Moroccan national team is the first Arab African squad which participated in the final phases of the World Cup (Mexico 70) at the time of Houmane, Allal, Bamous, Slimani, Mâaroufi etc. It is also the first Arab and African team to reach the second round in the World cup (Mexico 86). The then national team was composed of Baddou Zaki, Aziz Bouderbala, Mustapha Haddaoui, Mohamed Timoumi, Abdelmajid Lemris, Khalifa, Mohamed Khaïri etc. Moreover, it is worth mentioning the honorable participations of the Atlas Lions in the Panarab Games, the Mediterranean Games, and the African Nations Cup which they won in Addis-Ababa thatnk to a team comprising: Dolmi, Baba, Smat, Faras, Acila… .They also reached the final at the last African competition in Tunis.
The performance of the national team during the last competition of the African Nations Cup (ANC, Tunis 2004) proved that the Moroccan football can compete with the great African teams because it abounds in a considerable human potential and a myriad of professional players operating in European clubs.
Collective games such as handball, volleyball, basketball and rugby have returned to high African positions since the beginning the 1990s, and this, in spite of a short regression. These disciplines knew an important qualitative progress. The national handball team qualified three successive times for the World cup final. In volleyball, the junior national team, having assured its African title, is qualified for the final phases of the Junior World Cup. This discipline knew difficulties during the 1980s and 1990s while the Moroccan team was, during the 1970s – one decade before- one of the best national teams in Africa thanks to Thoumi, Allam, etc.
Allam was a professional player with Real Madrid in Spain and was distinguished by his passes in spite of his average size.
In rugby, the national team which is largely made up of players playing in France, is always equal to itself at the continental level. It is third among the four best national teams in Africa namely South Africa, Namibia and Côte d'Ivoire.
The glory of the national rugby is represented by the ex-captain of the French team Abdellatif Benazzi, native of Oujda who shone within the junior national team when he was playing in the oujdi club USMO.
The Moroccan tennis is one of the most successful in Africa thanks to the talent of the three Moroccan tennismen: Karim Alami, Younes Aynaoui and Hicham Arazi who were often classified among the first thirty or even twenty best tennis players in the world.
The evolution of tennis in the country is not only due to the performances of these three high-level sportsmen but also to the organization of Grand Prix Hassan II. The first tournament of this event took place in the 1980s and attracts famous international players.
Their objective is to gain points and improve their ATP classification. In addition, it represents for them a convenient opportunity for preparing to the Grand Slam tournament on hard-packed surface particularly that of Roland Garros.
Concerning martial arts, the Moroccan national team is composed of high-level champions. Mustapha Lakhssam, world champion of Kick boxing and champion of Europe, Khalid Kandili, ex-champion of France, Europe and the world in Kickboxing and Full Contact.
For further information:
Official site of the FRMA