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How Cameroon’s soccer superfan landed himself a mascot position | Qatar World Cup 2022

Yaounde, Cameroon – Cameroon’s most outstanding soccer fan has his sights set on travelling to Qatar to cheer on his Indomitable Lions on the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

For greater than 40 years, Ngando Pickett has supported his crew by means of good instances and the dangerous, attending 16 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments and two world cups.

“I simply love soccer and my nation,” stated Pickett, who stopped going by his actual identify Henri Mouyébé when associates nicknamed him after the late American soul singer Wilson Pickett due to his comparable dance strikes.

Pickett, who performed novice soccer within the Nineteen Seventies, informed Al Jazeera that he first began supporting the Indomitable Lions in 1982 when he was a pupil residing in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.

“Cameroon had come to play a college competitors in Ivory Coast. We have been simply 10 Cameroonians in Yamoussoukro, however I mobilised them to go assist the youth soccer crew,” he stated, including that he was capable of see his nation win its first AFCON trophy two years later in Abidjan.

When Pickett isn’t cheering on his crew at video games, he earns more money entertaining at native occasions with Cameroun O Mulema, a dance group he based. [Courtesy of Ngando Pickett]

Years later, Pickett caught the eyes of Cameroonian officers attending the 1998 AFCON in Burkina Faso as a result of he had lined his physique and garments with paint that matched the inexperienced, crimson and yellow of the nation’s flag.

“I used to be the subject of dialogue on the sidelines of the AFCON as a result of practically each media [outlet] that got here to cowl the competitors took pictures of me, together with most French retailers,” he stated.

Joseph Owona, Cameroon’s minister of sports activities on the time, was so impressed with Pickett that he requested him to tackle an necessary position for the membership.

“He stated he had met a beautiful Indomitable Lions supporter. He determined to make me the mascot of the crew,” Pickett stated, including that Owona helped him go to the World Cup in France that yr.

“I actually loved a cultural night time we had round Notre-Dame Cathedral with seven different Cameroon followers,” he stated. “We have been in a mini-dance competitors with another nations’ followers and we beat them with our shows. We got an enormous carton of champagne. From there, wherever we went, they knew the Cameroonians had include their thrilling dance strikes.”

Dancing on the aspect

When Pickett isn’t cheering on his crew at video games, the father-of-two earns more money entertaining at native occasions with Cameroun O Mulema, a dance group he based in Cameroon’s financial capital, Douala.

“We carry out at events, marriages and official occasions, particularly in Douala,” he stated. “We journey to different components of the nation when invited. Folks know me, so I don’t discover it troublesome.”

He stated the cash he earns from performing goes to pay for his youngsters’s training.

“I’ve to do that in intervals once we don’t have soccer competitions,” Pickett stated. “It’s not simple, however I’ve been doing it for years now.”

Phrase Cup hopes

However soccer is Pickett’s real love, and he’s anxiously ready to listen to from the Cameroonian Soccer Federation (Fecafoot) to see if he can attend the World Cup in Qatar.

“Fecafoot may be very conscious of our plan to go to Qatar. They’ve informed us they’re engaged on our journey, lodging and different issues. I’m very hopeful about it.”

Pickett can be hoping the fan group he based, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon Supporters Membership, can even have the ability to make the journey to Qatar.

“There are 20 of us who can be taken care of by the Cameroon Soccer Federation for the World Cup,” Pickett stated. “We already began each day apply a few month in the past. We’re certain of representing Cameroonian followers massively in Qatar.”

Excessive expectations

Pickett has excessive hopes for his crew on this yr’s World Cup.

Cameroon is in Group G and can begin their marketing campaign in opposition to Switzerland on November 24 earlier than assembly Serbia 4 days later and wrapping up the group stage in opposition to five-time champions Brazil on December 2.

Pickett gave a thumbs-up to the job that Samuel Eto’o, president of Fecafoot, is doing and predicted his crew will attain at the least the knockout stage of the World Cup.

“I consider we’ll reach reaching at the least the spherical of 16 as a result of Eto’o is doing every thing attainable to get the suitable gamers,” he stated.

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