The build up to the beginning of the league in Sierra Leone was exceptional. The enthusiasm I saw for the game between two of Sierra Leone’s most successful football clubs was something I have never seen in this part of Sierra Leone as a young person.
Young people like us have been told the tales of Blackpool, East End Lions, Republicans and other teams but some of us were able to witness the rivalry between the two clubs for the first time at the national stadium.
The revival of the league is coming up on the background of a seemingly never ending football brawl amongst the administrators of football in the country, a four years standstill of the league and a serious corruption trial in the high court of Sierra Leone involving the suspended President of Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) Isha Johansen and her Secretary General Chris Kamara.
During the sudden languishing of football in the last four years, football was playing at the local level at the Parade Field, Approved Field, Kroobay Field, Kingtom Field and many other grounds across the country and there were always throng of supporters behind those local teams in those mini leagues. Thus, there is always a show of support for the local league in Sierra Leone.
Football supposed to be a rallying point in a deeply divided nation like ours along tribal and regional lines but the then government decided to kill football by importing those same antagonistic tendencies into the game which eventually destroyed football in the country.
The interference in that congress that ushered in Isha Johansen at the helm of football on August 3 2013 is the beginning of the problems of football in Sierra Leone. The then Minister of Sports, Paul Kamara stated that the candidate of the government of President Koroma was Isha Johansen and that Sierra Leone needed a Sierra Leonean to become the President.
Because of the political interference in football the over 7 Billions Leones that was spent on football alone by Former President Koroma had little or no impact in football because the local league was killed.
Now that the football has started playing in the field instead of rolling in controversies in the mouth of football administrators, the government of President Bio should try at all cost not to interfere into football politically rather they should only provide the support because any attempt to interfere in football politically will be a déjàvu.
Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai’ s Premier League Board has come up with meaningful football reforms which will help the football clubs to be responsible.
One of the reforms that are good for the transformation of football in the country is when all the premier league clubs were made companies in consonance with the Bamoi Declaration.
This will actually help the clubs to become corporate citizens that will sue and be sued to court. It will help the clubs to go into serious business as well as open them up to serious investment.
It will be disingenuous for us not to commend the government of President Bio for providing the financial support and political will for the development of local football in Sierra Leone.
It is estimated just at the beginning of the league, football has created over 400 jobs and it will increase to almost 2,000 jobs for people that will be in the game.
Thus by injecting huge billions into the development of football and if the moneys are managed well, President Bio would have created almost 2,000 jobs as well as generating huge amount of revenue from the sale of tickets.
However, the President made important promises in his new direction manifesto about general sports development-to recommence national competition for all sporting disciplines and to build standard stadia in all regions and the Western Rural Area to enhance the capacity of Sierra Leone for which he should be reminded.
Bio’s administration has rekindled national competition in football; we hope that it will be done for other sporting disciplines in the country and he will be able to ensure that stadia are built in the regions and western rural.
It is good to see that Football that was once held in the hands of politicians during political campaigns has once again been re-energized and thrown into the field for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans.