July 12, 2024

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“I thought the plane had arrived at our hotel”: Belgian football coach in Marrakesh testifies about the earthquake |  sports

“I thought the plane had arrived at our hotel”: Belgian football coach in Marrakesh testifies about the earthquake | sports

“I’ve never seen a building move like that.” Tom Saintveit (50 years old), coach of the Gambian national football team, was terrified on Friday evening during the earthquake that struck Marrakesh. Our compatriot is there with Gambia for an international match.

It was shocking. Really terrible. It took 30 seconds, but it seemed endless.

When the BBC asked Tom Saintveit in Marrakesh how he experienced the severe earthquake, our compatriot was still deeply shaken by what happened on Friday evening. Santveit is in Marrakesh with Gambia to play an international match against Congo Brazzaville, and he was in a hotel with his team at the time of the earthquakes.

“At first I thought someone was knocking on my door, because I heard a lot of noise,” Santveit begins his story. “After a few seconds, I was afraid that a plane had crashed on or inside our hotel because we were staying near the airport and the walls started moving. But within a few seconds I knew it was an earthquake. The walls were shaking more and more and things were falling from the walls. Loose. I’ve never seen a building move like that.”

“When the worst of the tremors passed, I started walking and checking if my team members had also come out of their rooms. Then we ran outside towards the swimming pool. We spent the night there in the open air because it was not safe in the hotel itself.”

Tom Santfiet. © Agence France-Presse

Saintveit was not the only Belgian football coach who was in Marrakesh during the terrible earthquake. Pol Pot (67) takes over leadership of rival Congo Brazzaville. He briefly told Reuters about his experiences. “Everyone with us is fine, but they are in shock. It is mentally difficult to stay focused. We had to sleep outside by the pool. It was and still is very scary.”

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And we say Santviet and Bute should not be in Marrakesh. The Gambia was forced to move to Morocco to play its match on home soil, after it was announced that its national stadium was not suitable for international matches.

Despite the earthquake, Sunday’s match will be held at Marrakesh Stadium. Something Santveit finds difficult to understand. “If there are too many victims, it is not wise or respectful to play,” he wonders out loud. “I know that some of my players will definitely not want to play football. Many of them are not thinking about the game at all. Some of the boys also play football in Turkey and they experienced the earthquake there in February. They are in complete shock.”

The earthquake that struck Morocco killed more than 2,000 people.

Tom Santfiet He has been coaching the Gambia national team since 2018. Our compatriot qualified for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations with the African country in March 2021. This was the first time Gambia qualified for a major tournament. This led to the extension of Santveit’s contract until 2026. He previously coached African teams such as Togo, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Pol Pot He has been coaching Congo Brazzaville since 2021. Until 2006, Bout was active as a coach in Belgium at Lokeren, Lierse and Mouscron, among others. After that, our compatriot went abroad. He coached the national teams of Gambia, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Kenya and Guinea. As coach of Lierse, Bout became involved in Yee’s case. Bot could have received 75,000 euros twice to be divided among his players for losing the match. It was suspended for 3 years in 2008.

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Pol Pot.
Pol Pot. © Agence France-Presse