By Camille SarazinPosted on 27-09-2019Modified on 27-09-2019 at 16:36

Conakry hosts this week the 8th Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) maracana. A name from Brazil for a 100% African sport, which tries to become professional on the continent.

The Mara'CAN is not at his first attempt. After Burkina Faso or Ivory Coast, it is Guinea's turn to host this pan-African event. Athletes have taken over the gymnasium next to the 28 September stadium in Conakry. 21 teams made the trip to the Guinean capital to compete in two categories: seniors (35-45) and super-seniors (from 45).

► Also to listen: "maracana" street football in Bouaké, Ivory Coast

The maracana, what is it?

A field of handball, a ball of futsal, six players against six: the recipe of maracana has nothing to envy football. Without guardian and on a reduced ground, the technique takes precedence. The passes fuse, the opportunities are not lacking. For commentators, it is sometimes difficult to follow the game. " These are very intense games ," confirms Amadou Barry, sports journalist and commentator at this 8th edition of the Mara'CAN.

Despite a Brazilian name, the maracana is 100% African. This sport was invented on Ivorian campuses, especially in Cocody, where students struggled to gather the 22 players needed for a football match and lacked infrastructure. " Maracana is real football, " insists Commissioner Bleu Charlemagne, president of the Ivorian federation of maracana, who is trying to export his sport abroad.

The maracana, an expanding sport

The opening ceremony of this Mara'CAN 2019 was held with great fanfare, in the presence of several Guinean ministers. Yet, in Guinea, the maracana still evokes little. Here, we talk about " bundes ", a football that is played in the street, and whose name comes from the German league, the Bundesliga. In the evening, on the Boulevard Telly Diallo, in Kaloum, the young people invest the empty car parks of their cars. The entire street becomes their playground, so it is sometimes difficult to get around.

The players of "Bundes" invest the boulevard Telly Diallo, in Conakry. © RFI / Camille Sarazin

But the goal of the Mara'CAN is also to export the maracana outside the Ivorian borders. This year, France, the United States or Canada made the trip. " This is the second year that we participate , said Mathieu Maillot, president of Vesinet international sport club and player of the France team. Last year, we finished second to last, in front of Senegal anyway ! Without rancor, fair play is an essential rule of this sport.

France's maracana lost 3-0 to Guinea-Conakry at Mara'CAN 2019. © RFI / Camille Sarazin

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