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Sierra Leone: Sports Commentary We need a Sports Policy for Salone

I have listened to many Sports Commentators advancing reasons why sports in general and in particular, football, continue to take a nose dive in international competitions.
But what they’ve failed to realize is the simple fact that sports cannot progress in this country of ours when we do not have a sports policy that is expected to guide us through the technical and managerial aspects for instance, of football and indeed other sporting disciplines, like our counterparts in the sub region are doing.
The National Sports Council (NSC), which is responsible for the conduct and administration of sports in this country, is yet to come out with a Sports Policy since its establishment since time immemorial. Rather, the NSC is busy writing and dispatching letters to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on very trivial issues that have consequently splashed in their faces resulting in shame and humiliation.
If sports are to succeed in this country, we should go back to the roots with a holistic reconstruction programme that should start from primary schools level. These kids would be groomed through such a programme during which they would be exposed to the rudiments of the games and as well inculcate in them the spirit of patriotism and nationalism to go for gold whenever they are in a competition in the name of and for the name of Sierra Leone.
This I think should be the focus of the NSC rather than being so episodic in our approach to the various sporting disciplines in the country, an approach that has not yielded us any dividends. Because our National Sports Council has failed to put its thoughts right, sports have not been what it is, to many countries in the sub region. Sports bring pride, discipline, love or country, fame and money.
This reminds me of the good old days when the late S. A. Fofana was Minister of Sports. In his vision for a sustained football in the country, he ensured that all First Division Teams had a junior team that would entertain spectators before the match of the day. These junior players dreamt at all times of playing in the senior category and therefore were committed to all that was to develop them to that stage.
That how visionary Ministers should behave, thinking ahead as to how to develop sports but not wasting time on how any of the disciplines can be put into disrepute.
That singular effort produced stars in the likes of John Johnson, John Agina Sesay, Abu Gattor, and a host of others who had graduated through the ranks to become quality players for the National Side, Leone Stars and it was these set of groomed players that managed to bring some amount of pride and joy to the hearts and minds of football-loving fans in this country.
Today, despite all the modern technologies, and apparent sophistications we are exposed to, sports in Sierra Leone continue to grapple with poor performances in virtually every sphere of sports in this country; this is due to the lack of adequate facilities, poor coaching methods and the lack of efficient and competent administrative leadership.
Inasmuch as our coaches are yet to be exposed to the latest sporting facilities, methods and technologies associated with their respective disciplines, the body, the Sports Ministry which is supposed to facilitate all of these, is enclosed in its cocoon of lack of foresight and the right ideas that should uplift sports in the country.
Instead of thinking that proactively, and engaging in the development of ideas that will constitute a Government White Paper for a National Sports Policy, they are engaged in diatribes and confrontations with the National Olympic Committee with whom they should be partnering for the good of sports in the country. The most outrageous challenge sports are facing in this country is the archaic and moribund National Sports Council Act. This document requires an urgent comprehensive surgical attention is sports are to survive in this country.
This and many other issues in my candid opinion, is what the Minister of Sports and indeed the NSC should be focusing on. Administering and conducting sports should be a matter of radio discussions where the Minister is always at loggerheads with his critics. It requires consultation with stakeholders in an atmosphere of respect for each other’s ideas. It should not be about casting aspersions on people who simply expression their opinions.
In the last five years, football, the country’s most popular sport has seen rapid decline much to the poignancy and despair of football fans in the country which has drawn the attention of the world football governing body, FIFA intervene by appointing a Normalization Committee to address the mess football has been engulfed by.
But alas! It appears the Committee has come in to add salt to injury because since its establishment, no official league has kicked off in the country. It is the resultant frustration that gave reason for the setting up of the quasi football league, called the Super League.
The consequence of this has fomented bad blood between the ten participating clubs in the Super League and the FA Secretariat, a development that has seen the latter refusing the former to utilize the facilities at the Soccer Academy.
But the buck of the matter does not stop at the Sports Ministry relating to football, but the secretariat of the FA, whose lies cannot hold any longer. Recently, they told the entire world that it was lack of passport that denied former Chelsea starlet, Aziz Deen Conteh a chance to show for the Leone Stars.
Sadly though, it was not so! The young boy let loose his frustration over Kallon Radio Sports Jamboree programme that the FA had failed to secure his clearance from the English FA, as he had played for the England’s U-17 team.
So one ponders what prompted the lie. We are tired of these shows of arrogance and celebrated lies emanating from the National FA Secretariat. It should be helping the situation rather than fueling the current flame of discord within the soccer family given their untruthful pronouncements.
Open your eyes Mr. Minister look around for stakeholders to sit and map out the future of sports in this country, or else prosperity will hold you accountable in your retirement on the note that it was during your tenure of office that sports and indeed football dropped to its lowest in the country. Mr. Minister should endeavor to review that outdated Sports Council Act of 1964.
Dictatorial tendencies are not hallmarks for honest and just administration of sports. The Minister should put aside his personal grudges against his former rivals and do away with all trivialities and let the ball roll. It is a longtime we laughed and feel triumphant in football, the people’s sport, since the days of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC).
Let those in authority in the Ministry and the NSC justify their being in their respective offices by giving us a Sports Policy and a reviewed National Sports Council Act, rather than exposing themselves to ridicule and humiliation to the international sports families. Lonta!
By Samuel John

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