The Rise of Sierra Leone Football in the New Direction

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The country was sanctioned by the World Football Governing Body for political interference into the country’s Football Association, just a week ahead of a crucial African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana on October 11and this dealt a serious blow to Football and felt by all the Stakeholders.

Minister of Sport Ibrahim Nyelenkeh speaking to AYV said uniting some of the sporting disciplines is the most challenges he has been facing since he assume office.

“When I assumed office there were lots of conflicts to see how best I can bring together these sporting family so that we can see how we can sanitize the system of the sporting family” he said.

He added that he met more than six complains from different disciplines on his desk since he took up office, stating that he has tried to resolve them all.

Football according to Mr. Nyelenkeh is the most challenging discipline in the country with reference to the longtime impasse between the Football Association and Stakeholders, adding that with the advent of President Bio’s new direction government he tried to reconcile the football family despite the issue is still at hand.

He went on to say FIFA suspension on the country’s footballing activities alleging the government interference was unfortunate as the ACC is an independent institution that acted by the act of parliament.

Mr. Nyelenkeh further disclosed that the government never interferes in the activities of the FA, noting that they inherited the Madam Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara saga from their predecessor.

“We as a government we can in to resolve the impasse, but along the line there were many challenges, I think the ACC have the mandate to do what they think it necessary to bring culprit to book those that are been indicted for corruption” he said.    

Mr. Nyelenkeh continued to say that the FIFA road map for congress has been to halt because there is document “in a conflict society when you are dealing with a document, that document need to have a time frame, but here is the document very open no time frame, all that have been stipulated in the document to be treated fairly since 2016 nothing absolute has been dealt with think of the integrity test among other” he disclosed.

The provision the government has made so far a year ago to support Sierra Leone Premier Board many football stakeholders say needs commendation for the funds provided.

Civil society activist and former Football Assessor and Referee Agnes Abu assessing the impact of sport since the inception of the present government said, football has been down the drained over the years and that even though things were happening in other discipline like Cricket, Volley Ball, Hand Ball  was not that much as well.

“The new government since they took power have being doing all they could to make sure at least we have two third of people who have been interested in soccer start enjoying back their past glory” she said.

Sierra Leone according to her is about 80% of its glory as a result of the government provision to support football, noting that youth as needs to be commended for complement the president support.

Former female footballer stakeholder Musu Pele Bangura said the momentum and growth of the league as a result of the government’s financial support has been massive.

The new SLPP government has spent 1 year in office with a key desire to drive support to sports generally and football in general. However, other disciplines like Table Tennis and Karate are still starving for want of financial help.

National Para-athlete George Wyndham criticized the government for focusing mainly on football instead of other discipline that are always bringing laurel for the country.

“If I could reiterate the amount of money the government is spending on football can run other discipline for more than 3-years, there are other sporting disciplines that are doing well and need supports but the supports is not been given to them” he said.

He furthered that they government needs to give equal share of money to the other discipline just like football.

Technical Director Sierra Leone Karate Federation Dr. Patrick Muana said Karate has not been developing as a result of lack of funding and organisation.

“It may not as big as football for the reason not everybody is going to interested, the good thing about  but it is good discipline, fitness, self-control and critical skills you need to survive in a very dangerous world” he said. 

In the eyes of many, Sierra Leone is certainly not ranked among the top African football nations, but the intervention of President Bio’s government to strengthening the country’s national league which has made two-thirds of the population to begin showing interest in football which they had been deprived of for a long time. As things now stand with regard football, hundreds of fans are now enjoying the game as it regains its former glory.

For the government to realize its objective and get to its goal they must close the rift in football and the other sporting disciplines in the country.

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