22 Apr 2020

“I believe that talent will get you in the door, but character will keep you in the room.” So says Cameroon Rugby League XIII’s first vice president, Annie Ottomo, who was appointed to the role in 2017.

Splitting her time between the African nation and her native Belgium, she is currently working in the health service back home in a bid to play her part in helping prevent the spread of Covid-19. “I have an opportunity to assist and help people,” she says. “I was a school teacher before and am now working in a nursing home for the elderly in Belgium, I re-trained myself and started from scratch.

“I have always has been a sports person, I like the energy and the feeling it gives you when you play. I often spend time with the women’s teams when I am in Cameroon and I fell in love with rugby league for the values and the passion it brings; for me it offers a chance for our youth to make their dream come true.”

Annie is taking a leading role within the CRL XIII to promote the women’s game. “I am trying to inspire all these young women and to be a role model,” she acknowledges. “I am so glad to see the Cameroon Rugby League XIII working hard to empower women and making a big move in gender equality in the communities, I am very proud of what we have achieved so far.

“We are planning to launch a women Championship in 2020; our goal is to complete our affiliate membership within the next month and we have already started to work on our full member status criteria.”

Annie also feels that her experiences in rugby league are standing her in good stead at this difficult time for everyone. “Being in the front line to fight the coronavirus, I have seen the world changing. All my thoughts are with fellow colleagues struggling, getting sick or dying, and everyone who has lost someone during this terrible pandemic.

“We are working very long hours but hopefully are making a real difference to people’s lives, something we are also trying to do in rugby league in the Cameroon.”