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Kenya aims for rugby gold at African Youth Games in Algiers       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rugby Africa, which will be in charge of the African Youth Games, to be held in Algiers from July 18-28, has confirmed that 22 teams will be taking part in the tournament.

Four years ago in Gaborone, Botswana, Kenya was humiliated when it lost 60-0 to champions South Africa to settle for silver. Zimbabwe claimed the bronze medal, beating Namibia in the third and fourth place playoff.

Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja has since said the continent has gained tremendously in the sport and was encouraged by the popularity of rugby at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“That is why we have decided to make the third edition of the African Youth Games a major objective for the 2018 season,” said Bougja on Thursday.

“Inclusion in the Olympics represents a great opportunity for the development of rugby. Today, there are one million players in Africa engaged in the sport. We have a goal to reach two million over the next 10 years,” he added.

Bougja is hopeful to see an African country win gold in the Olympics, noting that with sound structures in place to train upcoming players, anything is possible.

“Rugby has become an Olympic sport due to the efforts of my friend and former president of World Rugby Bernard Lapasset. I was delighted to see South Africa bring home the bronze medal from the first participation of rugby 7s in the Rio Olympics in 2016,” said Bougja.

Bougja lauded African countries that have strong leagues for youth, saying they must work hard to improve the scope and quality of the game, especially among the youth.

“Olympic Committees in our African countries have provided the greatest possible support in this registration process and it is thanks to them that 22 teams will be competing in Algiers bringing in over 300 young athletes,” he added.

The African Youth Games are open to young people under 18.

Acting president of Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) Mustapha Berraf said he has high expectations for the event.

“The African Youth Games will be a real celebration of sport and its values. I look forward to seeing the emergence of the future African stars of international rugby,” said Berraf.

The teams that have confirmed participation in the Africa Youth Games are host Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


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