By Tata Mbunwe
Former Indomitable Lions player, Bernard Tchoutang, has spoken loud against most of his fellow ex-Indomitable Lions for refusing to contribute to the needs of thousands of displaced persons in the crisis-hit Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.
“Between a strong and a weak people I stand for the weak,” he said during a live virtual interview on Equinoxe Soir, a popular evening talk show on Equinoxe Television, on Saturday, February 6, during which he also said footballers should be ambassadors of the people.
He said all former Indomitable Lions, except Micheal Ngandjeu, refused to play gala match he organized in France to raise money for victims of the Anglophone crisis, rejecting the initiative as politics.
To him, former players of Cameroon’s national football team, including the legendary Samuel Eto’o Fils, have preferred honour over their suffering counterparts in the Anglophone regions.
Bernard Tchoutang expressed bitterness towards former Indomitable Lions who are indifferent about the crisis in the English-speaking regions, especially after they turned down his request towards donating for the needs of those hard hit by the crisis.
“So I say again and repeat, Cameroonian footballers should be examples. Our role is to be ambassadors; being on the side of the people, speaking for the people and whenever the people cry, we must bring them tissues to wipe their tears,” he said.
Reacting to the recent tour of Samuel Eto’o to the northern regions, Tchoutang said it is “inconceivable” that a Cameroonian footballer should be accompanied by the army while on a tour to regions, adding that it is not the role of the Cameroonian army to accompany footballers on their regional tours.
Bernard Tchoutang’s statement sparked wide reactions throughout diversed social media platforms, although some persons think he was speaking from the political perspective of the Cameroon Renaisance Movement (CRM) party, the main opposition to the CPDM government.
Derrick Baya is one of those who think that the Indomitable Lions did not err in failing to support victims of the Anglophone crisis, because to him, humanitarian assistance is a voluntary act not a duty to anyone.
According to him, Tchoutang’s humanitarian initiative is laudable but “no player owes Anglophones a duty to provide for their humanitarian needs. It’s a voluntary gesture to decide to help people or not to help. No one should be forced or coerced to give.”
However, many Cameroonians think both former and current Indomitable Lions players owe their countrymen the responsibility to help those who are in need.
Some think Cameroonian footballers should imitate the humanitarian efforts of Premier League players such as Marcus Rashford who raised 20 million euros to supply meals to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020.
Watford club captain, Troy Deeney, also visited prisons in 2012, and started a humanitarian foundation to help children with disabilities and lifelong illnesses.
However, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, both current and former players, have maintained indifference towards Cameroon’s major conflicts in the Far North region and in the two English-speaking regions.
Although Cameroon’s football legend Samuel Eto’o has not donated to victims of the Anglophone conflict, the Samuel Eto’o Foundation has been carrying out humanitarian activities in the restive parts of the country.
The foundation recently donated to vulnerable children and pupils of schools in some subdivisions of the North Region of Cameroon.