Toyama, Japan, September 22, 2019 – African champions Cameroon are playing for the first time in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup and they have certainly made their presence felt. They would often announce their entrance into the Yokohama Arena during the first round, and now, into the Toyama City Gymnasium, with a song that conveys their team spirit.
Cameroon start each match with a song and a dance to celebrate their team spirit
“This is the first World Cup for me and this is a very good experience for me to play the game against high-level teams,” said captain Christelle Tchoudjang Nana, the 30-year-old opposite from Yaoundé.
Cameroon captain Christelle Nana Tchoudjang celebrates a point
The first round in Yokohama pooled the debuting squad together with Olympic champions and reigning World Cup title-holders China, hosts Japan, Dominican Republic, Korea and Russia.
Outside hitter Laetitia Crescence Moma Bassoko proved to be Cameroon’s chief scorer, taking 7th in the best scorers list with 71 points at the end of Round 1.
“For me, it has really been a great experience, it feels good for us to be able to play against the strong teams we have here,” said Moma.
Laetitia Cresence Moma Bassoko on attack against Korea
One of the breakthrough matches for the African side was their five-set thriller with Dominican Republic on September 16. Cameroon came from two sets down to force the decider, with the help of the 17-year-old middle blocker Ruth Manuela Bibinbe.
“I am one of the youngest players in this event. I am very much proud of this and of representing my country,” Bibinbe said.
Cameroon eventually lost to the NORCECA side, 3-2 (25-17, 25-15, 23-25, 28-30, 15-10), but gained insight into their wealth of talent from both experienced players and younger ones.
Coach Jean Rene Akono Bekono admitted to not having as much preparation as he would have wanted for the World Cup, but he is keen on seizing every opportunity as an investment.
“Towards the future, we want the players to improve through these matches and also through training. We can improve ourselves day by day,” said Akono.
Coach Jean Rene Akono Bekono gives instructions during a time-out
The Cameroon coach looks forward to their match against African counterparts Kenya on September 29 on the last day of competition in Osaka. He mentions this as a key match-up in their World Cup campaign.
Meanwhile, players like Nana, Moma, and Bibinbe will continue to learn from each match.
“In the future, I’d like to try and play in such a big event again,” Nana said.