Pimbi Nikièma, President of the Burkinabè Judo Federation: “Soon a national technical training center in Burkina”

Elected in November 2016, Pimbi Nikièma returned in 2020 for a second term with the aim of taking Burkinabè judo even higher. Despite an unfavorable security situation, the customs inspector is showing resilience with lots of projects for this discipline in Burkina Faso.

How is the Burkinabè Judo Federation doing?

The Burkinabè Judo Federation is doing like Burkina Faso today. In the sense that we are in a security crisis which does not help the situation. Despite this, like Burkina, we are resilient. We try to adapt to the situation.

In terms of the results of the season, what can we learn from that of your Federation?

Despite the difficulties, our guardianship, the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Employment across the State, supported us so that we could carry out our activities, even if we were not able to carry them all out. The only downside is that we could not participate in the African championship this year in Algiers, Algeria. Notwithstanding this, we were able, at the national level, to organize our national cadet, junior and senior championships. We were also able to organize our regional championships, notably in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso and Koudougou. We were able to organize two retraining sessions for referees both in Bobo-Dioulasso and in Ouagadougou. It is also necessary to add passages of grades in the two localities mentioned above. At the national level, we can be happy to have been able to hold a lot of activities. Internationally, as I mentioned earlier, we missed the senior African championship. Nevertheless, we first participated in the African Cup for cadets and juniors in Niamey with roughly three athletes with as many medals at stake. Then we participated in the African Junior Championship in Kenyan where we came back with a silver medal. There is also the Dakar Open where we also came back with a silver medal. Overall, these are some of the key activities that we were able to carry out during the year 2022.

You mentioned earlier the situation in the country, which is not helping things in terms of money inflows. How does your Federation manage to carry out its activities?

Like all federations, we operate on the basis of the subsidy that the State grants us. Despite the difficult situation, the state continues to support us. We are also trying to organize ourselves to properly manage this grant. Thanks also to some sponsors, we try to organize some activities.

In terms of prospects, what are the major projects of your structure?

I will say that most of the activities will be carried over. On the national level, it will be the same competitions that you know. That is to say the regional competitions, the national championship, the training sessions especially on the national level. Also, if the guardianship allows us, we will participate in a certain number of competitions which could allow certain athletes to earn points for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In addition to this, we have some prospects with the International Federation of judo (FIJ), with which we are studying the possibility of building a technical training center in Burkina Faso. Discussions are ongoing and we are confident that in 2023, this will certainly be possible. We also intend to implement an IJF program called “School Judo”. A program that allows to insert the practice of judo in schools. We are in negotiation with the International Federation, because it is she who must provide the equipment. We are also in the process of sending some elements to the IJF training center in Hungary. We have two athletes in the starting blocks. This is Mariam Drabo who is due to fly away normally next Friday (Editor’s note: interview conducted on Thursday January 26) for Budapest for 2 months. If this is conclusive, the duration which is supported by the IJF can be extended. Karmel Koné, he will certainly go during the holidays for the same type of internship.

Is it easy to be a president of a sports federation in Burkina Faso?

In life, nothing is easy. It’s quite difficult because the sites and the challenges are enormous, while the means are few. The few successes that you can achieve are drowned in the mass of problems so that we do not really see what is being done. Despite this, we are still fighting to be able to keep our heads above water.

With your experience in the field, what qualities should a president of a sports federation have? (Laughs).

This is quite a difficult question. But, I think the first thing is to be moderate because it’s not at all easy in the middle. The problems are enormous and the expectations many. It is therefore necessary to be moderate enough and moderate enough. You have to take the problems as they come and find the solutions as they arise. Above all, don’t promise what you can’t do. We never promise. We always try to do what we can. Because we don’t claim to be able to come and revolutionize the sector with the stroke of a magic stick. It is not possible. It is together, with all the actors that we are moving forward step by step and also overcoming the problems step by step.

Your rant?

I won’t say rant, given the situation. Rather, it is to pray for our country to regain peace and stability. With these wishes, I think there will be enough resources to support the federations so that they can carry out their activities. Instead of a rant, I will speak of a crush on the authorities, the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), the Homeland Defense Volunteers (VDP), for the supreme sacrifice they make, first even so that we can do this interview and talk about competitions. At the place also of the populations for their resilience. I would like to express my wishes to the Burkinabè sporting world in general, in particular to that of judo, to the athletes, to the leaders, to the supervisors, to all those who, near or far, gravitate around Burkinabè judo. I wish them a year full of health and happiness, a year in which we go together, hand in hand, to achieve results.

Interview conducted by Yves OUEDRAOGO