Other Things to Do in Morocco
Soccer in Morocco
Other Things to Do in Morocco: Soccer is undoubtedly the favorite sport of Moroccans, who are assiduous supporters of their national team, the Atlas Lions. The Atlas Lions played their first match in 1957. But their most notable success came in 1976 when the Moroccan soccer team won the African Cup of Nations.
The rise of soccer in Morocco dates back to the second half of the 20th century. Even before the 50s, there was already a Moroccan national team, but the sport really began to professionalize in 1955, with the birth of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation. It is under this umbrella that the Moroccan championship, known as the Botola, has been organized every year for almost sixty years. There are 16 clubs in the National 1 division and 24 in D2. Matches give rise to various sports betting activities, such as Fofo soccer.
The most successful national League 1 clubs are Wydad Casablanca, founded by Father Jego, and Far de Rabat, both of whom have won the championship twelve times. Raja de Casablanca has won it ten times. Other soccer teams that have excelled throughout the history of the Moroccan championship include Kawkab de Marrakech, Hassania d’Agadir, Maghreb de Fès, and Difaâ d’El Jadida. In 2011, the top five are Raja Casablanca, Mas Fès, Wac Casablanca, OCK Khouribga and OC Safi. The Casablanca derby, which is particularly famous, sees Raja and Wydad, the two big clubs from the economic capital, clash every year, in the presence of over 80,000 fans, on the lawns of the Mohammed V stadium.
With some 80,000 licensed players and occasional practitioners, soccer is the king of sports and has its own star players, such as Larbi Ben Barek, who made his debut in Casablanca in 1934, nicknamed “The Black Pearl” and considered one of the country’s finest footballers. Not to mention the prowess of A. Belmahjoub, Hassan Akesbi and Tatom. More recently, in 1998, the Moroccan Golden Ball was awarded to Mustapha Hadji. Twelve years earlier, Zaki Badou had won the title.
To help soccer become more professional, a training academy was opened in Salé in 2009. Since then, it has been welcoming young Moroccan hopefuls. Its capacity is 80 players per class.
But soccer is not just for men. The Atlas Lionesses, ranked 71st by the Fédération Internationale de Football, played their first match in 1998 and won the Arab Cup in 2001. All these players have also made a name for themselves in the Moroccan women’s championship, with teams such as C.A. Khénifra, ACDA Rabat, and FC. Berchid.
Cycling in Morocco
The first Moroccan cycling tour (the oldest event on the African continent), also known as the Tawaf Al-Maghrib, took place in 1937. Over the years, this high-level sporting event has attracted competitors from all over the world. In 2011, the 35th edition of this stage race was held. Over 130 riders and no fewer than 16 international teams take part in this major event, which takes place between late March and early April.
The route, which stretches over 1,500 km, takes ten days to complete and takes in the main Moroccan cities. In 2011, the start was in El Jadida and the finish was in Casablanca. Since 1992, the Tour of Morocco has been considered a flagship event by the International Cycling Union, on par with the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain.
The outstanding figure in this great race, which counts towards the UCI Africa Tour prize list, is Moroccan Mohamed El Gourch, three-time champion in the 1960s. With him, Moroccan cycling took off and earned its stripes with the general public. Other great cyclists followed, such as Kendoura Lacheb, Mustapha Belkadi, and Abdellah Kaddour, all historic stage winners or champions at the Mediterranean Games. After a less favorable period, Moroccan cycling has risen from the ashes since the 1980s. The Tour of Morocco was won in 2011 by Mouhssine Lahsaini. He was celebrated triumphantly by the fans, as it had been almost 40 years since Morocco had had a national champion.
Further proof of the rise of Moroccan cycling was his qualification for the 2010 World Cycling Championships in Australia, in the Elite Men’s category. Not to mention the success of the national team in the 2010 UCI Africa Tour.
The Royal Moroccan Cycling Federation has made a major contribution to giving the sport a new dimension. Today, it boasts no fewer than 100 professional riders under its aegis, more than 80% of them under the age of 21. It also encourages the professionalization of women’s cycling. Today, there are 100 cycling clubs in Morocco. The ambition is to reach 200 by 2013. Another emerging sport is mountain biking, which has had its own national association since 2002. The various Moroccan mountain bike clubs organize numerous raids and competitions.
The Tizi-n-Test road
The Tizi-n-Test road is a winding route from Marrakech to Taroudant, which is not suitable for trucks. It is not very busy, and the circuit is around two hundred kilometers long. It’s a narrow asphalt road, and caution is advised. It crosses the Atlas Mountains via the road pass, at an altitude of 2,092 meters. It may be closed to traffic in winter, due to snowfall. This tour takes you through the diverse and magnificent landscapes of the High Atlas, with its rustic villages and crops.
Leaving Marrakech for Tizi-n-Test, you will follow the S 507 and then the S 501 towards Taroudant. You’ll follow the road through the countryside outside Marrakech, passing wheat fields and olive groves. Water flows down from the mountains to irrigate this countryside, and is very useful for running small mills to produce flour. The mills are built of adobe.
The first village you come to is Tahanaout, at an altitude of 995 metres. This village marks the beginning of the Atlas mountain ranges. The road then continues through the Moulay Brahim gorges to Asni, a small village at an altitude of 1,150 metres. Here, you can admire the pleasant valley through which the Oued Nfiss flows, providing a favorable growing environment. The valley is overlooked by Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains.
Continuing on the road to Tizi-n-Test, you can pause in the village of Ouirgane. Lunch at one of two restaurants, Sanglier qui Fume or Roseraie. You’ll enjoy a well-earned meal while admiring the abundant flora all around you. Continue along the clear waters of the wadi. You’ll pass through several small villages set deep in the mountains, blending into the red of the rocks. Vegetation becomes sparser. You’ll spot a few abandoned kasbahs like Talaat n’Yakoub, and on your right, the Tin Mal mosque comes into view. It’s well worth a visit. It’s one of the few mosques where non-Muslims can enter. It has been restored but has yet to become a place of prayer. It’s an imposing structure, with magnificent architecture and decoration. You won’t regret your little stop.
A short detour on the road to Tizi-n-Test, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the Tagoundaft Kasbah at an altitude of 1,600 metres. Continuing on your way, you’ll reach Tizi-n-Test at an altitude of 2,092 meters. You’ll have a superb view over the Souss Valley.
After enjoying this magical moment, you’ll need to take the road back down from Tizi-n-Test towards Taroudant, leaving the road on your right that leads to Ouarzazate. Before reaching Ouarzazate, take the winding road back down to the Souss plain. You’ll pass through valleys filled with villages, and on the mountain walls, you’ll be surprised to see a variety of crops. The Oued Souss reaches the plains to supply the water table, which is up to thirty meters deep. It’s thanks to this water table that crops are rich and varied. These include orange and lemon trees, a variety of vegetables, olive trees, and wheat fields. The majority of the population living on these plains are Berbers. Once you’ve completed your journey, you’ll arrive at your destination, Taroudant.
The Tizi-n-Test route is a winding road from Marrakech to Taroudant, which is not suitable for trucks. It is not very busy, and the circuit is around two hundred kilometers long. It’s a narrow asphalt road, and caution is advised. It crosses the Atlas Mountains via the road pass, at an altitude of 2,092 meters. It may be closed to traffic in winter, due to snowfall.
This tour will take you through the diverse and magnificent landscapes of the High Atlas, with its rustic villages and cultivated fields. You’ll pass through typical places, magnificent landscapes, countryside, and fields as far as the eye can see. A moment of relaxation, calm, and memories to bring back.
You can take the opportunity to visit Taroudant, a city steeped in history, surrounded by ochre-colored ramparts, and take a stroll through the Medina, to admire its local crafts and beautiful silver jewelry. Taroudant is also renowned for its decorated stone objects, carpets, and sheepskins. Take a stroll through the town’s streets, pausing in the cafés lining the alleyways to refresh yourself and savor the town’s charming decor. The road to Tizi-n-Test, an itinerary full of the unexpected.
Typical Moroccan cheese
K’lila is one of the few cheeses made in Morocco. Not traditionally a cheese country, only a handful of farmers make it in certain towns and regions of Morocco.
K’lila is a cheese from southeastern Morocco, in the Oujda and Figuig regions. It is made by women from goat’s whey, and especially camel’s milk, which is curdled and dried. This cheese has a hard paste and is much appreciated when eaten with dates, as is the Moroccan tradition. K’lila can be the very basis of a meal, with dates, or incorporated into Berber and Moroccan recipes. This dish is sold directly to the customer by the women of this region of Morocco in cooperatives, to enable them to earn a little money.
Goat and camel breeders in the Figuig region are concentrated around the oasis. This is a naturally rich area for feeding these animals and raising them in total serenity. It is the owners of these animals who make K’lila from the whey of the females, mainly for their own consumption. To help widowed or divorced women with little income, the sale of K’lila and other regional products is a great help. The majority of Berber inhabitants are the only ones in Morocco to eat this hard cheese. To enjoy it, you need to grind it into a powder and add it to your dishes. The reputation of K’lila is growing all the time, as the properties of camel milk are widely recognized. It is fertile in antibacterial products, for example. It is also rich in therapeutic and dietary properties.
K’lila graces tables on feast days, but it’s difficult to eat in France. This regional and traditional product is not imported and remains unknown outside the Oujda region. You have to go directly to the farmer’s or women’s cooperatives to buy it. It is not available in restaurants in France, or even in Morocco. This little-known dish is very tasty and blends perfectly with other ingredients when grated. This can be the case in bouts or bricks. It can also be used in sweet or savory recipes, such as date cakes.
Track and field in MoroccoMorocco is a great athletics nation. In fact, it is the sport that has won the most medals and titles in all international events. And this has been the case since independence when participation in the sport exploded. Athletics is also one of the most widely practiced disciplines, with between 400 and 500 clubs and associations throughout the kingdom.
The government has just embarked on a major program to raise the profile of Moroccan athletics even higher. On the one hand, the country applied to host the World Cup of the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2014. On the other hand, a major financial effort is being made both to develop the teaching of this discipline in schools and to modernize stadiums and equipment. Regional training centers will also be built in Khénifra, Benslimane, Al Haouz, etc. so that athletes can benefit from modern infrastructures throughout the region. Another project underway is the construction of an international athletics academy in Ifrane, designed to provide the best national and international athletes with an ideal training environment.
Despite disappointing results at the Beijing Olympic Games, Morocco is the birthplace of many great track and field champions. The best known is undoubtedly Hicham El Guerrouj, twice Olympic champion, and four times world champion. This middle-distance runner also holds three world records. At the end of 2010, he was recognized as the most successful athlete in the history of this discipline by the International Athletics Federation at an event held in Monte-Carlo.
Other great Moroccan track and field champions include Lahcen Ahansal, ten-time winner of the Marathon des Sables, Salah Hissou, 5,000 m world champion in Seville in 1999, and Jaouad Gharib, an outstanding marathon runner, and two-time world champion. On the women’s side, Halima Hachlaf achieved the best world performance of 2011 at the Diamond League in Oslo. Amine Laalou and Abdelati Iguider (1,500 m), Yahya Berrabah (long jump), and Hicham Bellani (3,000 m) are also leading athletes, flying the flag for Moroccan athletics.
While national champions shine in the world’s major athletics stadiums, they also shine in events organized on Moroccan soil: the Casablanca, Marrakech, Zagora, and Les Sables marathons, etc., not forgetting the major international meeting in Tenerife. And let’s not forget the great Tangier international meeting, held since 1998 at the Marshan stadium.
Other Things to Do in Morocco: Boxing has only been an official sport in Morocco for the past ten years. However, illustrious champions have long given the sport its letters of nobility. Starting with Marcel Cerdan. Although this boxing ring specialist was born in Algeria, it was in Casablanca that the man familiarly known as the “Moroccan Bomber” began training. And it was the town of Meknes that welcomed him for his first fight.
Other Moroccan boxers are making their mark on the major international stages. In June 2011, Yassine El Maachi won the Prize Fighter lightweight title in London. A few months earlier, at the Africa Cup of Nations (Algiers, December 2010) and the Arab Championships in Doha (March 2011), Moroccan competitors had demonstrated their high level. In the former, it was women’s boxing that shone. Morocco won three gold medals, and Zahra Zahraoui was crowned best female boxer of the event. In Doha, Yassine Lakhal, the youngest boxer in the competition, was crowned Arab champion in the under 52 kg category. All these boxers have played for top Moroccan clubs such as Sporting Oujda, Kawkab Riadi of Marrakech, and Athletic Sports of Casablanca.
Aware of the high standard of Moroccan boxing, the Moroccan government, encouraged by the Royal Moroccan Boxing Federation, took the initiative of creating a national academy near Ben Slimane. This is a center dedicated to training young hopefuls and developing competitors. Its first objective: to achieve prowess in the boxing events at the London Olympics in 2012 and beyond. The Olympics have traditionally brought good luck to Morocco, which has won the gold medal three times, with Abdelhak Achik at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Mohamed Achik at Barcelona in 1992, and Taher Tamsamani at Sydney in 2000.
Numerous boxing competitions also take place on Moroccan soil, including the national professional boxing group cup, the Moroccan tournament, and the Moroccan cadet championship. But the country is also well placed in international kickboxing competitions, with Aziz Khattou winning the world championship in the 95 kg category.