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Sierra Leone Sports: World-class Salone Scrabble players need funds for tourney

Scrabble match in progressSierra Leone National Scrabble Association desperately needs financial support to facilitate the participation of their players in this year’s World English Scrabble Player’s Association Championship (WESPAC) that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in early November.
The Association has been in search of funds for over five months but they are yet to receive a positive response from the Ministry of Sport or corporate institutions.
Despite training in a self-styled Camp to get their minds prepared, the players are really frustrated over the situation, as they supposed to be engaging on proper training instead of moving out to seek funds just to ensure they compete for the first time in a Scrabble world event.
At the moment, UK-based, Mohamed Alieu Kamara, who is the country’s only foreign based player, has registered his participation due to the fact that he will be responsible for himself throughout the event with his personal funds.
This means, if the other local players in Sierra Leone failed to raise the amount of money budgeted for the tournament, he will be the only player representing the country, and that will affect him greatly, as he needs a team of players for strong representation.
According to the Association, a total of $35,000 USD was budgeted for five players. Accommodation, air tickets, feeding and allowances are all inclusive. With barely four weeks to go, they are confused on how to go about to raise this money.
Martin Wusha Conteh a member of the Scrabble Association asserted that they’ve been treated unfairly as if they are not part of Sierra Leone or even under the Ministry of Sports.
Wusha lamented, “It is the responsibility of the Sports Ministry to look after all sporting disciplines, but the majority of other sports, including Scrabble, have been sidelined. Some of these sports can win laurels for the country if only they are given the right attention”.
However, he called on the attention of the government through the Ministry of Sport and other corporate institutions to assist them in for the players to achieve their dream of competing against the grandmasters in the biggest World Scrabble tournament.
Expressing displeasure, the top rated Scrabble player in the country, Emmanuel King, confessed that the situation is unbearable, that the more reason why people in sport sometimes get frustrated, especially after giving their best to qualify for World event and they are given deaf ears.
“At this time, we should be adequately prepared to produce good results in the tournament. But, we are here thinking about if we will be making the trip or not. It’s not good for us. It will tell on us psychologically and if things continue like this, it will affect our performance,” King said.
However, the players are expected to depart Freetown for Kenya on November 1st to team up with Mohamed Alieu Kamara if all goes as planned. But, as things stand, they will miss the tournament if their plea is not given the required attention.
By Magdalene S. Konneh
Wednesday October 11, 2017.

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