One of the items that catches attention at the vast entry lounge of the unique Mohammed VI Football Complex is a huge framed picture of the reception accorded the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations winning team of Morocco.
All the players in the picture wore maroon coloured suits. In the middle of the group picture is a young boy, then 13. He wore a blue suit and a stripped tie.
That was the then Prince Mohammed who is today, King Mohammed VI. The magnificent football complex in Rabat is named after him.
Information gathered that there are three more of such football training complexes, though in lower scale, in Morocco while others are still being planned.
King Mohammed’s association with sports, especially football therefore predated his ascension to the throne on 23 July 1999 upon the passing on of his father, King Hassan II.
Football in Morocco has blossomed under King Mohammed VI. At the moment, Moroccan clubs are holders of both the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup.
Women’s football has recieved a big boost as the Moroccan women’s team will debut at the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand later this summer.
Prior to King Mohammed VI reign, the Moroccan women’s team was like a punching bag in the African Women’s Championship.
For instance, the team was pumelled 8-0 by Nigeria on 17 October 1998. But only last year, Nigeria’s Super Falcons struggled in vein and were eliminated by Morocco in the semi-finals.
King Mohammed VI was born on 21 August 1963, the day the Nigeria Football Federation (Founded 1933, though they seemed not aware) clocked 30.
He is not the only royal person interested in sports. The imposing Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat is named after an uncle of King Mohammed VI, indicating the royal family’s strong obsession for sports.
Another indication could be gleaned from the picture of the trophy presentation to Real Madrid when the Spanish giants won the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.
The trophy was presented by Prince Moulay Al Hassan, the Crown Prince of Morocco. At the time he was making the trophy presentation, he was 11 years old.