Opinions' free; Facts are sacred
Last Monday, the government ordered officials of the Sierra Leone Football Association to call off Leone Stars trip to Monrovia, Liberia. The team is scheduled to play Liberia on Sunday in the African zone of the World Cup elimination. This provoked some serious reactions from the general public. Sorie Ibrahim Sesay highlights some of these reactions on those he spoke to on the issue. Please read on.
Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay (Awoko)
I am strictly in favour of us going to Liberia. I am thinking of the disaster that will befall the Sierra Leone football if we fail to honour the Liberia fixture due to the sanctions FIFA will levy on SLFA. This means our clubs will no longer participate in any continental competitions. And some of us who are spending our money on football are not doing so just for our clubs to be playing at home. The government must rethink its position and we should go to Liberia.
Mohamed Magba Taimeh
I believe the FA officials are people with integrity and know the rules of the game well. Based on that, these officials in their right senses will not allow anyone to dictate to them an issue that will bring the game into disrepute. I was surprised when I heard the news on the BBC that the FA is calling for a postponement to FIFA on security grounds. I believe such statement is untrue, because FIFA will not even entertain that.
In conclusion, the thought of withdrawal or finding a neutral ground expressed by people should not even arise at this point. Anyone with his right senses will not dream of that.
To withdraw at this stage is completely out of the question considering the severe penalties and the consequences from FIFA.
SPORTS EDITORIAL COMMENTARY
SLPP Government Is Killing
Football In Sierra Leone
From all indications it seems the present ruling SLPP government is bent on finally destroying Sierra Leone’s most populous game, football. Boycott.
On Monday,the government advised the Sierra Leone football Association to boycott the match against Liberia scheduled to take place in Monrovia, Liberia this weekend on the grounds of insecurity.
The advise from the government followed an advice from Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Monrovia who intimated that Nigerians in Monrovia experienced some harrassment and molestation during their encounter last year. Government acted upon this and therefore advised the SLFA to ask FIFA for a reschedule of the match to a neutral venue or boycott the competition entirely, regardless of the penalty. Wrong Timing
The advise from the government might be in good faith but the timing of the decision is totally wrong and out of place. This is a direct political interference into the running of soccer which all International Footballing bodies are frowning against.
Firstly, why should the Sierra Leone Ambassador in Monrovia wait until the eleventh hour before sending such an advice? And why should the Ambassador complaint about Nigerians ill-treatment when the Nigerians themselves have not reported anything of the such? What sort of intelligence network does the Sierra Leone government has in Liberia when it cannot even provide such intelligence report until rebels occupy State House in 1999? Why must Sierra Leone shed tears on behalf of Nigerian when they themselves have not complained?
The so-called politicians who gave the advise failed to read the FIFA rules and regulations before asking SLFA to boycott. FIFA’s regulations clearly state that any country wishing to withdraw from its competitions must indicate so before March 1, 2000 with a fine of US25,000. Implications
People are wondering whether the government really takes into consideration what will befall Sierra Leone soccer if the country fails to honour the Liberia fixture. Here are some of the punishments that will be levied against Sierra Leone.
Firstly, Sierra Leone will be banned by FIFA not to participate in two consecutive World Cups. This means the present crop of Leone Stars players will never have the opportunity to play in any World Cup prelimary, qualifying or finals.
Secondly, the SLFA will be authorised to refund all expenditure incurred by the Liberia Football Association for the said match.
Thirdly, Sierra Leone will loose its voting right at any FIFA congress for the next eight years. Fourthly, Sierra Leone will cease to benefit from all FIFA assistance both in financial and technical. Fifthly, CAF and WAFU too will follow the footsteps of the parent body FIFA, by banning Sierra Leone from participating in its competitions.
These reasons outlined above indicate that the much heralded Football Academy will become a complete white elephant. Financial Loss
What baffles soccer fans is that the government was responsible for the camping of the team for the past two weeks spending approximately Le500,000 a day.
The same government had provided return air tickets for 18 players and seven officials for the said match and the SLFA has spent over US$13,000 to provide air tickets for the seven foreign based players who are already in town. The question on everybody’s lips is why should government wait until now? Politics and Sports
Time without number, World Football governing bodies have been preaching against the interference of politicians in the running of football. This is because politicians come and go and some have no knowledge in the game. Some of their actions in most cases destroy the promotion of the game.
The action of the late Nigerian Head of State, Sanni Abacha to withdraw the Super Eagles from participating in the 1996 African Nations Cup in South Africa is today having a tremendous negative effect on the performance of the Super Eagles. Sychophants and Hypocrites
It is extremely difficult to understand the behaviour of certain individuals who are advocating for a boycott of our scheduled match with Liberia on the grounds of that country’s role in our crisis. Everybody in this country has been affected significantly by this war. Many ways have been explored to have peace in the country. If the military and the diplomats have failed, why should sports not be given a chance? Should we continue to isolate ourselves from other states and think that will end our crisis?
Some of those advocating for a boycott were key players in the management of Leone Stars when FIFA released the fixtures billing Sierra Leone against Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana. Some even led Leone Stars to Nigeria and Ghana. They never advocated for a withdrawal at the initial stage because we are in the same group with Liberia. Now that they have been kicked out, their only objective is to see the death of football. This shows how dishonest, selfish and hypocritical some people are in this society.
Only sycophants and hypocrites are calling for a boycott. The bulk of Sierra Leoneans who are genuinely yearning for peace including the UN are thinking otherwise. This was evidenced in yesterday’s meeting with Mrs Jennifer Kargbo, a special UN envoy with the SLFA executive asking for football matches to be played between Sierra Leone and Liberia as a way of establishing peace among the peoples of the two nations. She said the UN is ready to sponsor such matches both at club to club and national team levels. The government must rethink.
“Small Attouga” A Star In The
Sorie Ibrahim Sesay profiles the 20-year old rising goalkeeper whose sharp reflexes and acrobatics evoke the memories of the late national goalie, Brima Attouga Kamara.
Since the death of Brima Attouga Kamara in July 1998, the technical staff of the national team and the football-loving populace are yet to get a goal keeper that could step into his shoes. Many have made one or two appearances in the team, but their performances are yet to captivate the soccer-crazy populace that indeed the redeemer is come.
However, while this search continues, a young and acrobatic goalkeeper, Brima Attouga Sesay has been waiting in the wings. And in the just concluded national league season, this lad has transformed himself into one of the country’s best goalkeepers; and many have come to appreciate him as a true successor of the late Brima Attouga Kamara.
Born in January 27, 1981 in the eastern part of the city of Temne parents, “Small Attouga” (as he is commonly called) was recruited into active soccer by his late boss and mentor, Brima Attouga Kamara at the early age of seven. “I was given all sorts of motivation by the late man to be goalkeeper. And I must admit here that I owe him so much for his efforts in bringing me up to my present standard,” he said.
Having been initiated into active football, “Small Attouga” began to carve a name for himself in the series of junior league competitions played all over the city. He won several BEST goalkeeper awards while serving with junior clubs like Blackhall Strikers, Junior Cenegal, Best Contrators. It was at this stage that his present premier division club, Ports Authority discovered him and decided to exploit his potential talents to their fullest in 1992.
However, his tiny physical appearance did him no good during that year to convince his coach to win a first choice position in the team. It was not until 1996 when the young star finally broke into the first team in an international match against a top Liberian first division side, Invicinble Eleven, in a WAFU clash. His performance in that match was enough to prove to his critics that he indeed deserved an undisputable position in the club. And from that time onwards, he has excelled not only at club competitions level, but at junior national team level as well.
Apart from making his name in the local front, Small Attouga has also excelled in several international club matches in 1997 against two top Kenyan first division sides, AFC Leopards and AS Leopards in that year’s African Cup of Winners Competitions.
Like his late mentor, “Small Attouga” made a brief sojourn in Guinea when he played for a first division club, Etoile de Guinee in 1997. And his excellent performance in that team greatly contributed to their 1997 WAFU ticket, a feat Etoile had lost for the past two decades. While with Etoile, Attouga featured prominently against Mauritanian side SDPA III and Stade Malien of Mali in that year’s WAFU competition which they eliminated.
Following the restoration of the legitimate government in 1998, Small Attouga returned home to continue his career and become part of the U-20 national team that held their Malian counterparts to a 1-1 in Bamako in that same year.
If there is a proof to his acrobatic qualities, his excellent performances in Banjul, The Gambia in last year’s WAFU cup against the Hawks clearly supplies that. In spite of the continuous firing power of the Gambian attackers, Small Attouga stood resolute and unyielding to take his side home to a 0-0 draw, which they subsequently eliminated in Freetown. “That was my best moment in my career. I did so well in Banjul that I became the lead stories of most of the Gambian sports page newspapers. I must thank God for that especially when we eliminated them here,” he explained.
Small Attouga’s immediate ambition is to win a first place position in the national team. “I want to take over my late boss’s position in Leone Stars. I have been in the waiting for too long; now I believe the time has come for me to be given the opportunity, which I will utilise fully,” he boasted.
The 20-year old star has a personal appeal to the football authorities and the soccer loving fans. He said the authorities should show their commitment in the game and appealed to supporters to refrain from making destructive criticisms on the players. “If they give the players the necessary encouragement, the sky will be their limit,” he said.
With such words of optimism, who knows, “Small Attouga” may be not only the country’s best but the continent as a whole in not the too distant future. Posterity will prove him right some day.
UNAMSIL Strikers Clinch Keith
The long-awaited gala final organised by the head teacher and staff of the Rural Education Community School at Jui Upper was played on Saturday February 17, 2001.UNAMSIL Strikers whipped British Parachuters by a lone goal to nil.
In her welcome address, the Head Teacher of the School, Sophian Thomas welcomed the guest of honour, Inspector General of Police Keith Biddle, for making it a point of duty to be present at the grand finals and commended the British forces for restoring peace to our beloved Sierra Leone.
Mrs. Thomas said football in particular is given priority in the school curriculum with 6-3-3-4 system, adding that the school has constraints in sporting gears and other necessary logistics. She said the school needs more furniture and teachers and that the pupils are interested in games like cricket, volleyball, and handball.
The Head Teacher thanked the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and SAPA for furnishing the school with materials.
The chairman, Mr. Lassayo a senior teacher at the Huntingdon Secondary school and also the Parent Teachers Association (PTA),said he was happy to introduce some activities.
He said the Ministry is fully in support of such activities to boost the 6-3-3-4 educational system, and called on the parents or guardian and teachers to encourage their children to go school regularly.
Other important personalities that witnessed the grand final included Match Commissioner, Mr. S.O. Lolleh, Mr. Dennis M. Ngobeh who took the kick off and IG Keith Biddle who distributed the trophy to the winners. Ms. Angela, a teacher of the school, gave the vote of thanks.
FEBRUARY 16TH 2001 Sports
Alphajor Jets in
Sierra Leone professional in China, Alphajor Bah has arrived in Freetown last Thursday in preparation to the World cup clash against Liberia on February 25.
He said he is optimistic that with the correct frame of mind in the players, the SLFA and government carrying its obligations on the players, Liberia will have a good taste of Sierra Leone soccer.
Alphajor promised to come with some jerseys for Leone Stars. Sports Commentary
My Appeal To The
The decision by the SLFA executive and its Organising Committee ordering a replay of the Freetown United/Republicans and Wellington People/ Easton Rangers matches respectively seems to be causing an uproar. Some of the affected clubs, Republicans and Easton Rangers to be precise, are threatening to boycott the replays.
To all intent and purposes, I am of the conviction that the decision for a replay was the best out of the mess. Indeed, it may hurt some parties, but yet it is the best considering the circumstances surrounding both matches.
I say again the decision is the best because all teams are annoyed. Every team is grumbling. If every team is annoyed with the decision, this means the decision is very good, as it does not favour any particular club.
I am therefore appealing to all clubs involved in this replay, to take the sportsmanship spirit and honour the fixtures. There may be mistakes but should such mistakes warrant a total boycott? I say no. As sportsmen, we must accept all decisions in the name of sports and suggest ways of rectifying those mistakes, if any.
I am pleading to officials, players and supporters of Republicans, Easton Rangers, Wellington People, United and Mount Aureol to please honour the fixtures this weekend in the spirit of sports.
DECEMBER 1ST 2000
National League ... The Struggle
of the Titans
Wellington People vs Bo Rangers
Wellington People FC will entertain their Southern region counterparts, Bo Rangers. The match itself is expected to be explosive particularly for the PK boys who, having suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Cenegal FC in their first showdown, will want to prove to the connoisseurs that they are still a force to reckon with.
Bo Rangers on the other hand are also determined not to surrender easily. A win for them in today’s match will put them in a position of reaching the last ten.
With the PK boys desperately fighting from the dead zone and with the determination of the opponents not to surrender easily, today’s match will be one to remember.
Saturday FC. Kallon vs B.B. Warriors
In Saturday’s match, the once indomitable Bai Bureh Warriors of Port Loko will lock horns with a highly motivated Kallon FC at the main bowl. It will be the third match for the Warriors, who to all intents and purposes, have lived up to early predictions that they are there just to make up the numbers. FC Kallon who bagged maximum points in their first match are expected to have little troubles in taming the armless Warriors from Port Loko. However, one should not completely rule the Warriors out of contention, considering the surprises which the minnows have manifested in recent league matches. Who knows? The Warriors may have secured enough arms to take on their opponents full blast.
Sunday: Kamboi Eagles vs Golf Leopards
On Sunday, Kamboi Eagles of Kenema will clash with Golf Leopards in what many have described as a clash of the group outsiders. Both sides are languishing at the bottom of the group and a win is expected especially for the flightless Eagles from Kenema to keep them afloat. If their performance in their first matches is anything to go by, then one is apt to say that the Leopards are the favourites to carry the day, particularly when it has become apparent that the Eagles’ camp is still in disarray over the signing of their Freetown-based players in the team. But the Leopards must be cautioned not to be ambushed by the determined Eagles who by all indications are poised to prove to their critics that they are still capable of reaching the last ten.
Meanwhile Old Edwardians last Wednesday thrashed a mediocre Freetown United side 4-1 to top group A with maximum six points from two matches.
<=+”4”>WAFU Tourney, SLFA To Pay
A fax letter from WAFU headquarters to the SLFA has indicated that Sierra Leone’s WAFU representatives, Port Authority FC, must pay to the headquarters US $ 3000 (Three Thousand United States Dollars) as arrears owed to the Union by the FA.
The letter further intimated that the four club tournament kicks off in the Togolese capital, Lome from December 21 - 24 and all participating teams must be in Lome on December 19 with a 25-man contingent.
The said 25-man contingent must include a FIFA referee whose allowances must be paid for by the club, and a Coach.
Ports first encounter on December 21 will be against Niger Tornadoes of Nigeria.
John Dissa Pegs Le.5
One time East End Lions Goal Poacher, John Dissa has placed a prize tag of half a million leones (Le500,000) to the player who grabs the award as the highest goal scorer at the end of the ongoing national football league competition.
John Dissa said the Le500,000 prize tag is only for provincial team players and Le250,000 if the highest goal scorer emerges from the Western Area teams.
The highest goal scorer must score at a minimum of nine goals.
John Dissa said the difference in the prizes is to encourage the provincial team players to fight for goals as he was the first provincial player to win such an award before he was grabbed by East End Lions in the mid 80s.
Anglican Schools Sport
The first Inter Annual Anglican Schools sports, organised by the Headteachers and staff of the Anglican Mission in Sierra Leone has ended at the National Stadium.
In the long jump intermediate, Albatu Kamara came first for Christ Church, Headteachers’ race was a win for Mrs. Mon Jones of St. Philips and Mr. A. Sesay of Cathedral came second while Cathedral George of Cathedral School came third. The most interesting events were throwing the cricket ball, infant Boys and girls, musical chair for girls, egg and spoon, 4 x 100 metres, needle and thread and invitation relay.
Speaking to the Anglican Association Mrs. Yambasu Comfort headmistress of Christ Church said she wa happy over the turnout as the school pupils and teachers participated fully.
She said this event would continue annualy to encourage the pupils of the schools to feel as one. The best behaved school award went to the Bishop Crowther school. Best Athlete went to Sheka Mansaray of Cathedral. The trophies were distributed by Mrs. Vera Barbar under the chairmanship of Mr. David S. Woobay and Mr. M. A. Sesay of the Sports Council.
The participating schools included Holy Trinity who gained 236, St. John got 183 points, Christ Church 263, Cathedral 322, St. Philips won the overall with 334 while Bishop Crowther gained 180.
When A Novice
Writes The figures the writer quoted from my article are
completely untrue. My article never stated that the
SLFA was paying Stadium Management Le150,000.00 every
match or Le100,000 for publicity/security. Either the
said misquotation was untrue or the writer did not
read and understand the figures correctly.
I agree with him that there are one or two clubs in
the FA that are insane but the decision for the
deduction of the money I mentioned in my article was
a collective one by the Organising Committee of the
SLFA of which Wellington People and Cenegal are
For the writer to state that Wellington People
received only a cheque of Le100,000 may not be true.
This is the very reason why the FA has introduced the
system of paying clubs through cheques. This is
mostly because there are certain clubs which are run
by one man and when physical cash is paid, it is
always squandered. For all I know, Wellington People
were not paid Le 100,000. Something has gone wrong
The writer says he cannot understand the idea of a
Development Fund. Well, clubs decided that Le50,000
must be deducted from every match. That money must be
deposited in a separate account to assist clubs that
will be engaged in international competitions.
To argue that clubs must not sell tickets is but a
vague suggestion. Are clubs not members of the FA?
Who can be a best judge in his own case? When the
writer saw the policeman selling tickets at Le500 what
did he do? If you cannot expose the policeman, it
means you condone the act.
Can he state one example where the FA has paid
physical cash to anybody immediately after a match? I
challenge the writer. All payments from the FA are in
cheques, because government auditors are frequently
looking at the books of the FA. And for your
information, Mr. Writer the FA will soon employ
auditors to audit all registered First Division Clubs.
The figures the writer quoted from my article are completely untrue. My article never stated that the SLFA was paying Stadium Management Le150,000.00 every match or Le100,000 for publicity/security. Either the said misquotation was untrue or the writer did not read and understand the figures correctly.
I agree with him that there are one or two clubs in the FA that are insane but the decision for the deduction of the money I mentioned in my article was a collective one by the Organising Committee of the SLFA of which Wellington People and Cenegal are members.
For the writer to state that Wellington People received only a cheque of Le100,000 may not be true. This is the very reason why the FA has introduced the system of paying clubs through cheques. This is mostly because there are certain clubs which are run by one man and when physical cash is paid, it is always squandered. For all I know, Wellington People were not paid Le 100,000. Something has gone wrong somewhere.
The writer says he cannot understand the idea of a Development Fund. Well, clubs decided that Le50,000 must be deducted from every match. That money must be deposited in a separate account to assist clubs that will be engaged in international competitions.
To argue that clubs must not sell tickets is but a vague suggestion. Are clubs not members of the FA? Who can be a best judge in his own case? When the writer saw the policeman selling tickets at Le500 what did he do? If you cannot expose the policeman, it means you condone the act.
Can he state one example where the FA has paid physical cash to anybody immediately after a match? I challenge the writer. All payments from the FA are in cheques, because government auditors are frequently looking at the books of the FA. And for your information, Mr. Writer the FA will soon employ auditors to audit all registered First Division Clubs.
SLFA is Transparent
My attention has been drawn to a misleading article in a local tabloid last Wednesday stating that “the established net takings from the match between Wellington People and Cenegal was Le1,410,000 but that each club only received Le161,000 after SLFA has pilfered the tickets”.
As the Public Relations Officer, I would like to inform my colleagues that the entire contents are untrue and unfounded.
Firstly, may I hasten to inform my colleagues and
all interested parties that before the commencement of
the present national league competition, there were
series of meetings of participating football clubs,
where certain decisions were reached. These decisions
were eventually forwarded to the executive for
ratification. And these are the agreed decisions;
1. That the following deductions should be made on
every match played at the stadium.
a. Wednesday and Friday matches - Le100,000 each day
paid to the National Stadium management
b. Saturday and Sunday matches - Le150,000 each day
paid to the National Stadium Management
c. Referees - Le80,000
The above amounts are to be deducted immediately after each match. The remaining amount will be shared according to percentages. The SLFA will receive 20% and the two clubs will receive 80%.
The SLFA is not responsible for the sale of tickets; the clubs that are playing on a particular day are to provide their ticket sellers.
It might interest football fans to know that the SLFA has a voucher of every match played at the stadium indicating both income and expenditure.
The match between Wellington People and Cenegal was played on October 28. The total money accrued from the sale of tickets was Le1,151,000 with following sales: Open stands 1,103 tickets sold @ Le1000, Covered Stands 9 tickets sold @ 3,000 and Presidential 7 sold at Le5,000. The Wellington People ticket sellers were short of Le10,000 and Cenegal’s Le4,000. The expenditure totalled Le698,000. SLFA’s 20% was Le90,500 and the clubs’ 80% resulted to each club receiving Le181,000.
The fact of the matter is that we have big teams that are crowd pullers and Wellington People and Cenegal are far from that category. When Blackpool and Republicans played on October 21, what each team received almost doubled the entire gate takings of Wellington People/Cenegal match. These small teams with just a handful of supporters can only make money when they play big teams like Lions, Blackpool, Republicans, Ports Authority, Edwards, etc.
I bet my life what Wellington People will receive when they eventually play Lions will be at variance with what they will receive when they play Goderich United. And what Goderich United received when they played Lions on October 22 was far above what Wellington People and Cenegal received. This is because Lions is a big team with a steady support base. Their supporters always turn up to cheer their team no matter the mediocre opponent.
Please colleagues, cross check your information before going to print in the name of objective and fair reporting.
MONDAY NOVEMBER 6TH 2000
U-17 Leave For Liberia Nov. 23
The Coach and Team Manager of the U-17 National team, Nahim Khadi has disclosed to this press that his side will leave Freetown for Monrovia, Liberia on November 23 to play a series of friendly matches.
According to Coach Khadi, the invitation was extended by the Liberian Football Association to commemorate the official opening ceremony of one of the venues in their FIFA Pilot projects. He said details of the arrangements for the proposed friendly are being worked out between the Ministry of Youths, Education and Sports, the SLFA and the Liberia FA President, . Edwin Sude who was expected in Freetown to grace last Saturday’s opening ceremony of the National league competition.
The Liberian occasion is expected to attract important football dignitaries like the FIFA President Sepp Blatter, CAF’s Issa Hayatou who has already consented to attend, official sources intimated this press.
Coach Khadi said he would use the opportunity to test his team as they prepare for the ECOWAS tournament which is scheduled a week later in Niger. “It has always been my wish to have as many international friendlies for my team. I think we will definitely utilise this" he said.
On the team’s present standard, the Team Manager said he was quite satisfied with the performance of the boys in their training sessions. “We have won several warm-up matches with top division clubs. I think the technical staff of the team is well content with their performance," he said.
Coach Khadi expressed optimism that his side would bring laurels to the nation. “I want to appeal to the authorities to do all in their power to ensure our participation in Niger. I believe my boys will deliver the goods in this tournament. We have the potentials. All what we need is encouragement and the results will be there for everyone to see," he said.
Lions To Get New Team Manager
Executive members of East End Lions FC last Sunday ordered members of the Fan club to nominate a Team Manager and other members who they want to be included in the executive body to man the affairs of the club.
This was as a result of the resignation of the substantive TM, Mr. Alhassan Kamara last week. At the executive meeting which comprise some executive members of the Fan club held at the First Foreign Exchange Bureau in Freetown, the Chairman Unisa Alim Sesay told his audience that the days are gone where violence should be used as a solution to the problems of the club. “We want to ensure a peaceful transition in the club. That is why we are asking you to choose people whom you feel will work in the interest of the club for its progress," he said.
The names of the nominees shall be submitted on Sunday, November 4. At present, it is widely rumoured that a popular businessman, Ahmed Sesay may likely be appointed to the position of Team Manager. Meanwhile, Mr. Bai Hinga Bangura has been mandated to act in that capacity.
Why Government Should Help
It is no gainsaying that if we are to develop a formidable national team that can stand the test of time, emphasis should be paid to our young talents.
If perhaps today, Sierra Leone has woefully failed in continental competitions, the underlying factor is that of failing to develop the game at the junior level. The country, I must say, is endowed with lots of potential talents that could have and can still put Sierra Leone in the continental soccer map.
Every now and then, the authorites say that their priority is to take the game to the grassroot. But it seems as if this has only been a policy statement, since little or nothing is done to substantiate such assertion.
This brings to mind the present problems confronting the national U-17 team in their training programme to defend the Kerekou ECOWAS trophy scheduled for next month in Niger. These problems range from the non payment of players’ allowances to the lack of adequate training facilities like footballs, boots, etc.
It is disheartening to learn that since the commencement of the training sessions about a month ago, not a single cent has been officially given to the boys in order to motivate them. I must commend the efforts of their coach and Team Manager, Nahim Khadi, who continues to deep from his pocket to meet with their demands. Tell me, how can we develop the game under these circumstances. Don’t tell me about the SLFA rescuing the team. I think I have said it time without number that the present SLFA is financially bankrupt. Besides, they too are making their own little efforts to motivate the boys.
But are we to leave everything in the hands of the FA? Definitely no! It is as a result of this that we want the government to intervene by rendering its own assistance to the team.
The excuse of the war should not overshadow this point. I believe if the government is sincere and determined to assist the team, that can be done in various ways. First, as in most African countries, they can contact parastatals to take over not only the U-17 team, but other clubs as well through sponsorships.
Moreover, the government should allocate certain amount to the team to offset their training programmes like the payment of allowances.
Everyone would agree with me that if we are to realise positive results in our competitions, emphasis should be laid on long term preparations programme. Coach Dyfan was able to win the first ECOWAS U-17 competition because of this. So why can’t we learn from past experiences?
Our authorities should realise that we are the defending champions of this tournament. The country cannot therefore afford to lose in Niger for lack of a proper preparation programme. In the past, poor coaches were blamed for the failure of our national teams, forgetting the fact that the problems lay entirely on the authorities.
I understood that recently the players threatened to boycott training sessions if there demands are not met. This is unfortunate for a side that is preparing to bring laurels to this nation. Government should realise that our only hope lies on the U-17 who, with proper motivation, will do the trick.
It is in light of the above circumstances that we will continue to re-echo the need for government assistance to the team, which has a great chance of retaining the trophy and put Sierra Leone on the soccer map.
New Policies For Leone
The Deputy Minister of Youths, Education and Sports, Abass Collier, has disclosed to this press that his Ministry is working out modalities for certain educational qualifications to be met by players before they would be eligible for invitation to the national team, Leone Stars.
He said the Ministry had initiated the National Sports Policy programme which would soon be presented to the various sporting groups in the country for their reactions and comments.
Mr. Collier expressed his optimism that nothing would stop the Ministry from accomplishing such policies. He said after receiving various comments and reactions on the proposed policy, his Ministry would hold a workshop that would comprise sports stakeholders to discuss its viability.
Mr. Collier further disclosed some of the policies embodied in this National Sports programme, among which was that players to be invited to the national team should have attained certain educational qualifying standards. “We want to ensure that we have qualified and intelligent players in the national team. We have learnt from past experiences that the level of education of some of our players have created some serious problems in the team. And we have a Ministry that is prepared to put a halt on to this,” he said. He further said that they viewed with disfavour the use of foreign names in our local mini leagues. “I think that would not augur well, particularly when we have important personalities that have excelled in sports,” he said.
He said the Ministry also intended to solicit fundings for various sports discipline as a way of developing the game.
Issues like establishing a sports lottery and fax were also raised by the Minister as part of his national sports policy.
Meanwhile, confirmed sources have intimated this press that the UNDP will sponsor the proposed workshop as they have done in several West African countries including the Gambia.
SWASAL Meet Sports
Executive members of the Sport Writers Association of Sierra Leone, SWASAL, last Monday paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Minister of Youths, Education and Sports, Abass Collier, at his office in Freetown, to present the newly elected Executive body and to acquaint him with some of the proposals of the association.
Before the presentation, the Secretary General of SLAAA, Mr. M A Kamara, described SWASAL as partners in the development of the game and that the Ministry needed their co-operation for success.
In his introduction, the President, David Mahdi Koroma, explained to the Minister some of the immediate proposals of the association which include a gala competition scheduled for this weekend and the November 18 Millennium Award night. He further appealed to the Minister to provide training facilities for members of his association by organising workshops and seminars.
Responding, the Deputy Minister welcomed members and congratulated them for conducting a peaceful election. He said in spite of the confusion in the association towards the election, he was happy that no incidence of violence was reported throughout the election process.
“This is a manifestation that Sierra Leoneans have begun to realise that irrespective of the different opinions and personalities, elections can still be held in a peaceful atmosphere”
He commended SWASAL for their strive to promote local sports in their various media. “Before then, sports journalists were seen as promoting only foreign talents at the expense of our local boys. But I am happy that that trend has reversed,” he said.
Mr. Collier also spoke of the need for co-operation between the sports Minister, the National Sports Council and SWASAL. He said henceforth Sports Writers should be invited to observe all meetings of the national Sports Council.
He said that his ministry was prepared to support all those working towards the development of the various sporting fields. Mr. Collier expressed his appreciation for the construction of the Football Academy which he said would be incorporated into the 6-3-3-4 system of education for the general benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
The Financial Secretary Amadu Bah, moved the vote of thanks.
From Togo With
The Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA, in collaboration with the National Sports Council, last Friday held a press conference to explain the treatment meted out to them by their Togolese counterparts in Lome.
The leader of the SLFA delegation who is also a CAF and WAFU Match Commissioner, Benji Davies, stated that the team left Accra, Ghana, for Lome Saturday morning and arrived at the Togolese border at about 12:00 midnight. He said upon their arrival, they were told by the Togolese immigration officers that they were instructed by officials of the Togo Football Association that Leone Stars should wait at the border to receive them.
“We were there until 5:30pm when we saw a representative from their FA,” he said. “Little did we know that that it was just one of the ploys by the Togolese to see us out of the race,” he went on.
Mr. Davies went on to state that even the bus that was to carry them to Lome was not allowed to cross the border in spite of the protest made to their officials. “All what they told us was to be patient,” he said.
According to the leader of the delegation, the team was thoroughly searched at the border, and the authorities selected and put aside Mohamed Kallon’s passport, contrary to the rules and regulations of CAF.
Mr. Davies further disclosed that they spent several hours at the border and the team arrived in Lome at night with every member of the delegation completely exhausted.
“We were given no food and to make matters worse, we were taken to a third class hotel which is about 15 kilometres from the capital,” he explained.
He went on to state that they protested to the Match Commissioner about the treatment meted out to them.
“But the man was completely biased, he did not even listen properly to understand our case. All that he told the Togolese FA officials was to improve on their hospitality.”
He said the Togo FA deprived them of using the pitch in accordance with CAF protocols. Mr. Davies stated that there was no security arrangement for the team, and mentioned one instance in which there was a fracas between the players and some security personnel over food that was meant for the boys.
“The police officers insisted that on no account should we buy food in our camp. And when the players insisted, there was a scuffle between them in which goalie Tawa and Gbanaloko sustained serious injuries,” he said.
He further spoke of their constraints in going to the pitch. “We spent over three hours from our camp to the stadium with unnecessary checkpoints to dampen the spirit of the players”.
To worsen the situation, he said, spectators urinated on the players from their stands; and the Burkinabe match officials insisted that there should be no inspection of the players until after the end of the 1st half.
“We were dragged from our stands to the track where we stranded for several hours,” Davies lamented.
On the match proper, the Acting Head Coach, Christian Cole, explained that considering the manner in which the players were treated by the Togo FA, he introduced the 3-5-2 system which the boys played very well. He said the first goal came in the 23rd minute from a scramble, which to him was scored from an offside position.
“I instructed the boys to play a compact defensive and midfield to contain the Togolese”. He said the second goal came in the 63rd minute from a penalty which incidentally deflected from a Togolese striker. He concluded that in the penalty shoot-out Pa Saffa and Gbanaloko missed.
Bai Bureh Warriors
The Secretary General of the Bai Bureh Warriors Football club, Mr. Tarawallie, has intimated this press that they as a District Association will not allow anyone to register a second division club without their consent.
Reacting to the recent proposal by some officials at Lungi to register a second division side in the forthcoming league, Mr.Tarawallie stated that it can only materialise with the approval of the District Football Association.
“We are not going to tolerate such act; all that we need is doing things the right way,” he said.
Mr. Tarawallie further spoke of plans to revive the district football team. “We hope to organise a workshop comprising the various chiefdoms in the district to brainstorm the way forward,” he explained.
He said they had initially intended to organise the inter-chiefdom league competition had it not been for the war. “We hope to kick off with this programme as soon as possible,” he concluded.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 30TH 2000
As Alphajor, Cherikoko confirm
coming Leone Stars leave today
A twenty-five man contingent of the national team, Leone Stars, will leave Freetown this afternoon for Togo via Ghana, to honour this weekend’s second leg match against their Togolese counterparts in Lome in the African Cup of Nations preliminary encounter.
Sources close to the SLFA Secretariat have confirmed that Egypt-based striker, Chernoh Mansaray and Alphajor Bah have confirmed their coming and they will join the team in Ghana where they are expected to spend two nights before leaving for Lome on Saturday.
The FA is yet to confirm the coming of UAE- based striker, Lamin Junior Tumbu Conteh, though the Secretary-General, Alimu Bah, intimated this press that a faxed message was sent to him a week ago for the encounter.
Other sources disclosed to this press that Tumbu’s reluctance to join the team might not be unconnected with money owed him by the SLFA.
“The player is insisting until his money is paid him he will not join the team,” said a second player of the team.
Alimu however stated that the association will do all it can to ensure that Tumbu is present for the Lome encounter.
As we went to press yesterday, both Italian-based players, Mohamed Wonder Boy Kallon and Kewullay Conteh, were reported to be on their way to Freetown to join their colleagues beefore their final departure.
Soccer analysts contacted by this press have warned the authorities not to rest on their oars, considering the fact that the team is playing a crucial away match and the home side will do all it can to turn down the score line.
“We shall be facing a different side in Lome and we have heard of some re-inforcement by the Togolese side. If we are not becareful with our preparation, the Togolese might accomplish their aims,” said popular sports analyst, Abdul Kabba Kargbo.
However, the SLFA authorities are confident of seeing the team to the group stages.
“We know the task ahead and we are not going to underestimate our opponents. We know they have prepared; we too have done our necessary assignment. I can assure you we will definitely qualify for the next stage,” one of them optimistically stated.
Meanwhile, the Acting Head Coach of the national team, Christian Cole on Monday submitted the list of 18 players to make the trip.
Here is the full list of players: 1. Komba Yomba 2. Michael Tommy 3. Kemokai Kallon 4. Mustapha Pa Saffa Sama 5. Toronka A.Turay 6. Ernest Kamara 7. Joh Keister 8. Ibrahim B. Kamara 9. Sidique Mansaray 10. Ahmed B.Conteh 11. Lamin Bangura 12. Jamil Kargbo 13. Abu Bakar Bah 14. Sheik Tolo Sesay 15. Serry Turay 16. Mohamed O. Kamara 17. Abu Gbanaloko Kanu 18. Ajami Jamiru
Lions face Edwards
Wednesday East End Lions will this afternoon entertain Old
Edwardians at the National Stadium in a match
organised to commemorate the commencement of the
forthcoming Council of Clubs workshop scheduled for
Both sides are meeting for the first time in the
past one year. The match is expected to be crucial as
the Dyfan-coached Old Edwardians side will be there
to prove to the connoiseurs that they are at present
one of the best sides in the country.
“I dont believe in too much talking. I want
everyone to go there and see how we will take on East
End Lions,” he said.
Lions on the other hand are there to restore
confidence in their numerous supporters particularly
after being defeated 2-0 last Saturday by arch-rivals
Ports Authority at the same venue. “My boys played a
very good game; it only happened that we lost agaisnt
Ports. But I can assure you that today’s match will be
different,” said Lions Chairman Awoko.
Meanwhile Leone Stars thrashed Ports Authority 2-0
on Sunday at the National Stadium in one of their
Chicabala, Hassan Milla, Shema
for Wallidan FC
East End Lions will this afternoon entertain Old Edwardians at the National Stadium in a match organised to commemorate the commencement of the forthcoming Council of Clubs workshop scheduled for this weekend.
Both sides are meeting for the first time in the past one year. The match is expected to be crucial as the Dyfan-coached Old Edwardians side will be there to prove to the connoiseurs that they are at present one of the best sides in the country.
“I dont believe in too much talking. I want everyone to go there and see how we will take on East End Lions,” he said.
Lions on the other hand are there to restore confidence in their numerous supporters particularly after being defeated 2-0 last Saturday by arch-rivals Ports Authority at the same venue. “My boys played a very good game; it only happened that we lost agaisnt Ports. But I can assure you that today’s match will be different,” said Lions Chairman Awoko.
Meanwhile Leone Stars thrashed Ports Authority 2-0 on Sunday at the National Stadium in one of their preparation matches.
Chicabala, Hassan Milla, Shema for Wallidan FC
After a good performance by WAFU qualifiers, Ports Authority Football Club, against the Hawks of The Gambia on the West African Football Union (WAFU) competition two weeks ago in Banjul, Wallidan FC executives contacted the Ports Authority Team Manager Nat Thomas after the match.
The Chairman of the Gambia Football Association, Alhaji Konate said they were interested in Ibrahim Chicabala Mansaray, Hassan Milla Sesay, Shema Sesay and Small Attouga (Brima Bangura), the youngest and most acrobatic goalkeeper in the subregion, adding that arrangement will be made after the competition.
Mr. Thomas said he was impressed by the performance of the players and commended the Sierra Leonean Community in The Gambia and Sierra Leone High Commission to The Gambia, for their good reception.
He said the team is presently in financial constraints and that the Ports Management will do all it can to help the team in the competition. He expressed reservation about the treatment meted out to them by Sierra Leone Football Association, adding that the FA should sponsor the clubs in international competitions.
The Team Manager called on Sierra Leoneans to support Ports Authority during this weekend’s match at the National Stadium, as the players need support to defeat the Hawks of Banjul, adding that the players are in tough spirit and are determined to crush their contenders. He said he was confident that Ports would make it through, come Saturday.
MONDAY AUGUST 28TH 2000
Lions Chairman in hot
The Chairman of East End Lions FC who is also Executive Director of Anti Drugs, Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay, has come under serious criticisms from players of the U-14 Anti Drugs team over his failure to meet with an agreement reached earlier with the players.
According to some of the players who prefer annonymity, on the formation of the squad in 1998, it was agreed and documented that the Executive Director of Anti Drugs, Alhaji Unisa Sesay, shall take full responsibility on the payment of school charges for some of the school going players and at the same time provide job training skills for non-school goers.
“But since then, they have only paid for one school year and for the whole of 1999 and up to this moment, not a single cent has been given to us in respect of the issue. To add more insult to injury even those they promised job training facilities have not seen anything. They keep on telling lies to us about our welfare. “At one stage we nearly went berserk against these officials on the impression that they had chopped our monies, only to discover that the director was still sitting on our cash,” they said.
Investigations carried by this press reveal that the poor performance of the team in the just concluded COFA U-14 competition was due to negative attitude of Awoko towards the team, as most of the players have abandoned the club for other junior teams that cater for the welfare of players.
When this press contacted the Executive Director at his office, he agreed that he had not been paying the school charges of the players because they did not submit their results to him.
“We cannot continue to pay for people we do not know their progress reports. We have told them to come with their results so that we can effect payment. But they have refused for reasons best know to them” he said.
Alhaji further expressed dismay over the attitude of the boys who he said are going about playing all sorts of leagues in the city.
“How can you expect us to take care of them when they are not even responsible to us?” he concluded.
U-17 prepares for Niger
The U-17 national team, Sierra Stars, last Friday began their training session in preparation for the forthcoming ECOWAS tournament schedule for Niamey, Niger.
According to the coach and Team Manager, NahimKhadi, more players have been invited to beef up the squad for the championship.
“I don’t want to take chances this time around. Considering the fact we are defending champions, are we are working very hard to retain the title,” he optimistically stated.
Coach Khadi further revealed that he believed in long term preparation.
“We had very little time to put together a team against our Gambian opponents in our CAF U-17 competition, which led to our defeat. But that is a thing of the past now, and I have implored the boys to look forward to this ECOWAS championship, where I believe we have the potential to redeem our image” he disclosed.
On the number of players invited so for, the optimistic Team Manager refused to comment, saying that very soon he would release the list of players for the final selection together with the concise training programme.
“I don’t want to do things in a hurry, and I am carefully assessing the boys, after which I will announce my final list,” he said.
Coach Khadi further said that plans are well undergo to contact sporting personalities and other business enterprises to assist the team in its preparation programme. “The SLFA cannot do everything for us. We expect the government and other business organisations to render their own little assistance to the team. It happens all over the world and we expect Sierra Leoneans to emulate such examples,” he said.
It could be recalled that Sierra Leone won the first ECOWAS U-17 championship hosted in Benin in 1997 under the then coach Ishmail Dyfan. The tournament was originally scheduled for Guinea Bissau in September, but it withdrew the hosting right due to some economic and political reasons. Niger later asked the ECOWAS authorities to host the tournament in mid October which was later approved.
Leone Stars 4 YSC
The national team, Leone Stars, were on Saturday forced to a 4 - 4 by the Young Men Sports Club at the latter’s playing ground in Freetown.
It was the YSC prolific striker, Shadi Basma, that was the first on the score line when in the 15th minute, he harmered home the curtain raiser. Shadi later increased the score. Few minutes later Ibrahim scored for his side to make it 3-0 in favour of YSC at half time.
Leone Stars later re-inforced the squad in the second half and Pa Ernest reduced the tally few minutes of play. Ballay- Ballay and Ibrahim Bah later levelled the socre line before Bobson put Leone Stars ahead towards the closing minutes of the match.
YSC later came back to equlise through Bobson for a 4 - 4 full time score.
In a snap interview with coach Christian Cole, he intimated that the purpose of the match was to help build the stamina of the boys in preparation for their weekend second by encounter against the Hawks of Togo in Lome.
Meanwhile, East End Lions FC on Monday entertained YSC at the same venue. Both sides played to a 2-2 draw last Monday.
FRIDAY AUGUST 25TH 2000.
Wonder Boy talks to The Pool Sports
Two months ago, Mohamed Wonder Boy Kallon was at the centre of press bashing for allegedly championing a players’ revolt against officials of the Sierra Leone Football Association. To know more on this, Sorie Ibrahim Sesay reached the country’s most expensive player last Friday.
In the ensuing interview, Kallon gave a detailed analysis on a number of issues ranging from problems in the Leone Stars and his future ambition. Please read on.
Pool Sports (PS): Before the trip to Nigeria in June, there was a players’ revolt against the SLFA over the payment of allowances and it was alledged that you masterminded it. What is your reaction?
Mohamed Kallon (MK). It was a unamimous decision from all the players in the team. What happened was that on our arrival at the heliport, the officials decided to give $350 to each player. Thirteen of them signed for the amount. But before then, I had asked the team captain to tell us what we would get for the trip. He told me to wait until we arrived at the heliport. When I was given my perdiem, I rejected it after consulting my colleagues. So it was not a one-man decision as people were made to believe.
PS: Some people described you as being rebels and unpatriotic because you demanded so much from the FA.
MK: That is very unfortunate for people to describe us that way. Candidly, we are not demanding much from the FA. I paid my air tickets to attend calls and no refund were given. I am paid an amount equivalent to Le20m for every match I played for my club. So why should I forgo such an amount to play for Le500,000 back home? In actual fact I love my country more than the money they are giving me. We want the FA to give what is due to the players to motivate them. On the whole, it was unfortunate for some people to describe us as rebels.
PS: On the match against Ghana, there were blames and counter-blames by both the players and the technical staff for the defeat. Tell me in your candid opinion what really went wrong.
MK: To be frank, we were committed to win that match. The problem was that we were introduced to a system that was entirely new to the players. I believe that was fault No 1. You cannot introduce a system within a day or two to a match. During the match, we insisted on a change of tactics, but they insisted that we should continue with it. I further suggested the 4-4-2 formation, but that was again rejected by the coaches. On it whole, the technical team was to blame for the defeat.
PS: Is it true that you and other members of the team were not on speaking terms with the former Team Manager?
MK: The man had been writing all sorts of things in his newspaper about me but I never questioned him about that. I don’t believe we had any quarell.
PS: How do you react to the allegation that you are pompous and arrogant?
MK: That is their opinion about me, but in actual fact I am not. I have never abused anyone since my school days, nor did I fight a colleague. I envy or lie to nobody. I am not saying that I am perfect, but I believe such a behaviour will be of no benefit to anyone.s
PS: There are allegations that a former national team coach instigated you to make huge demands from the FA in order to sabotage the then technical staff. Your reaction.
MK: Personally, I love my country and I am always ready to deliver the goods when I have the opportunity. Nobody can mislead me to this. I think they are refering to Dyfan. To be frank, he has never said anything like that to me. Dyfan has always advised me to do my best for Leone Stars. Even when I arrived recently, I asked him why he had not taken the appointment. He said that he was waiting for the right time. I pleaded with him but I could not change his mind at the moment.
PS: Tell me, what are the solutions to the problems fo the national team?
MK: First, the SLFA has to appoint somebody that commands respect and who will be able to control the players. Secondly, they should draw a specific programme particularly on what is to be paid to each player for every match. They should not wait till the eleventh hour. Thirdly the introduction of new players in the team should be an important factor. They should maintain the old stars who are matured and experienced for international competitions. If that is done,t he team will definitely succeed.
PS: What are our chances in the World Cup, considering the two defeats we suffered recently?
MK: This is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go. You all know that we have not been together for the past two years. I don’t consider losing an away match as being out of the race. We still have to play at home and we stand a chance to win and qualify.
PS: At present, you hold the record as the country’s most expensive players. Are you really carried away by this?
MK: (Laugh) That is what I’m always fighting for, to be at the top. Really, I dont think that would change my attitude to people. I don’t even know my worth even if I am paid Le100billion.
PS: It has not been easy with you in playing professional football in one of the world’s toughest league competitions. Tell me, are you really intimidated at this stage?
MK: I am not intimated by some of the big playes like the Baggio and others. I respect them but that doesn’t mean I fear them. My fear initially was the capacity crowd in some of these Italian club stadia. I’m happy that I have got used to it all. So I fear no one.
PS: I understand that you have left your club, Reggina, for another Seri ‘A’ team. Could you please tell me your new club and the terms of the transfer?
MK: I am going on loan to Vicenzia since I am still with Inter Milan. Vicenzia is paying 50% which is about $6m to Inter Milan for one season. If at the end of the season, I prove well, then, they will enter into fresh arrangements with them.
PS: Back home, your fellow countrymen have organised themselves into a fan club inorder to promote your image. How do you see such a move?
MK: I believe they have taken the correct decision. I was not expecting that, but I knew that one day it will happen. If other countries are forming such fan clubs for their players, I expect my people back home to do the same. I’m happy and ready to give my fullest support.
PS: Some people criticized you for opening a fan club in The Gambia rather than your homeland and at the same time making giving assitance to foreigners rather than Sierra Leoneans. Your reactions.
MK: I want people to understand that a footballer does not form his own fan club nor does he own it. He is only consulted after its formation. It has been natural to me to render my assistance to everybody irrespective of race or nationality. Candidly speaking, I have less time back home because of the war. This explains I spend most of my time in The Gambia. Having played rigorous league matches, I need a place to relax myself; and the Gambia is my alternative after Sierra Leone. That notwithstanding, I am ready to assist my country in my own little way. I went to UNICEF to assist my country and they have printed some T-Shirts with “Stop The War”inscriptions. I think these are just some of the ways to demonstrate that I am a patriot.
PS: Tell me, what are your plans for the future?
MK: First, I want to open a Football Academy at Lungi which shall host up to 150 students between the ages of 11 and18. These students shall be under the supervision of a local coach and a foreign one which I intend to come with. I also intend to build a clinic, a school and football pitch in the area. I have drawn all my plans and I’m just waiting for the go- ahead.
PS: Who will give you the green light?
PS: Apart from football, what sports do you like to play?
MK: I love athletics, basketball, Volleyball, tennis, etc. I have always been following them. I was an athlete during my school days. But I believe football is my priority for now.
PS: Your last word.
MK: I have personal respect for every Sierra Leonean. I am one of their key players from whom much is expected . I know it is painful for the two defeats we suffered recently. But that has happened. I am appealing to everybody to put that at the back of their minds and pray for the better. I believe one day our turn will come. And finally, I dedicate my achievement to my family, my fan club, the Colisee family and the entire nation.
The Pool Newspaper
Third Floor Suite,
No. 1 Short Street
Sierra Leone, Africa.