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Page added on June 27, 2012
In less than a month from now, 47 members of the football family in Sierra Leone, otherwise referred to as DELEGATES, will converge in the Eastern district headquarter town of Kailahun to elect a new executive with the mandate to steer the affairs of the country’s football for the next four years. (Photo; Chernor Ojuku Sesay, author)
The post of President, as always, is causing a lot of hype, tension and acrimony among members of the football family.
Whilst in Freetown recently, I made my position very clear on who I think is the fittest among the contenders for the presidency of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) – Isha Johansen (nee Tejan-Cole). And I still stand firmly on this. Here are my reasons;
The world football governing body, FIFA is frantically encouraging National Associations to bring women onboard the game once regarded exclusively as a game for men.
As a sign of commitment to this clarion call, for the first time in the 108 years history of FIFA, at its last Congress on May 25th in Zurich, Switzerland, unanimously endorsed the nomination of Burundi’s FA President, Madam Lydia Nsekera to the Executive Committee of FIFA. She is the first woman in Africa and the world as a whole to attain that feat. There has never been a woman in the Executive Committee of FIFA.
During the ceremony in welcoming Madam Lydia Nsekera to the FIFA Executive Committee, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had these words to say, “I am delighted to have the first ever lady in our Executive Committee in 108 years”, Blatter told the delegates after Madam Nsekera took her seat on the podium to a standing ovation by delegates from 209 member states.
The simple message FIFA is sending to National Associations is that with a woman at the helm of football affairs in a country, there is every prospect for that woman to be included in the Executive Committee of FIFA. Moreover, the benefits such a country stands to benefit from the largesse of FIFA are enormous to outline in this piece.
Readers might be interested to learn that since the creation of the Sierra Leone Football Association, only Justice Tolla-Thompson had served as a Committee member in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). No Sierra Leone football official has ever made it to any of the 27 Standing Committees of FIFA. This is pathetic to say the least.
With Isha Johansen as President of the SLFA, there is no better chance for Sierra Leone to be represented within the FIFA corridors than now.
Isha Johansen has the eloquence, the charisma, the courage, the passion and the contacts to make it to the top in FIFA if given the chance by our football delegates.
The Presidency of the SLFA requires someone with proven ability and passion in the administration of the game. Isha Johansen has proven this beyond all reasonable doubts. Her achievements with FC Johansen are clear testimonies on what a woman can do when given the opportunity. This is a youth football club she founded in 2004 and guided it to become a formidable force in the Sierra Leone Premier League. This is a club that has earned the country international accolades in Spain, Sweden, Norway and USA by participating and conquering major international youth tournaments.
It takes a woman with passion, courage, intelligence and the administrative know-how in football- a game once regarded as mainly for men, to reach such a peak.
Isha Johansen’s (nee Tejan-Cole) contributions in the promotion of the national game are numerous. The most recent one was the dishing out of return air tickets to the female national
The current situation among members of the football family in Sierra Leone could best be described as unhealthy.
This disunity in the Sierra Leone football family started way back in 2004 during that year’s hotly contested SLFA elective congress. Towards the weekend of that congress in Makeni, the campaign for the Presidency took a dramatic political twist with the then ruling SLPP openly backing the candidacy of Dr. Foday Bangso Bangura, whilst members of the then opposition APC, supported Mr. Nahim Kadi. The latter won with a landslide.
The same scenario happened in 2008. The two, Dr. Foday Bangso Bangura and Nahim Kadi took the centre stage once again for a rematch along the same political lines. Nahim Kadi won again.
Another elective Congress is here again. Nahim Kadi is no longer contesting due to ill-health, so too is Dr. Foday Bangso Bangura. But the latter (Dr. Bangso Bagura) is contesting in a disguise manner through Mr. Rodney Michael. I say so because, I have seen Dr. Bangura chairing meetings, directing and coordinating activities of the Rodney Michael campaign team during my recent visit in Freetown. Moreover, in all the two previously contested elective Congresses, Mr. Rodney Michael, as Chairman of the Bo District FA was at the forefront of Dr. Foday Bangso Bangura’s campaign team. He was even nominated as Dr. Foday Bangso Bangura’s running-mate in the 2008 Congress. In a nutshell, Mr. Rodney Michael is viewed by many of us as a front for the SLPP. It is my humble conviction that a Rodney Michael victory (God forbid), will certainly flame more divisions in Sierra Leone football than at any other time.
Therefore, it is imperative on the football stakeholders to vote for a unifying candidate, devoid of any political lineage and has not been found supporting any of the two factions. Only Isha Johansen fits that description.
Only an insane person would tend to divorce Rodney Michael from Sierra Leone’s football betting company, Mercury International. The fact is that Mr. Rodney Michael is part and parcel of that betting company. The so-called sponsorship by Mercury International to Regional and District football Associations in the country is done through the dictates of the Michaels (Rodney and brother Martin, the latter is the Legal Adviser to the company) in order to win over football delegates at the time when Rodney aspires for the Presidency of the SLFA. Mr. Rodney Michael has been nursing this ambition of heading the SLFA since 2004. They are of the firm belief that the best way to win over the 47 delegates is for their betting company to start sponsoring football activities countrywide. All are key stake/shareholders to the company.
Mercury International started its operations in Sierra Leone in 2006. Throughout the past years, they had never sponsored football activities until two years to the next elective Congress. What a suspicious sponsorship indeed!
When Mr. Rodney Michael was forced to resign as Chairman of the Premier League Board last year, through his directives, Mercury International immediately withdrew its support from all football activities in Sierra Leone. The company only resumed its sponsorship after a date has been agreed for the next elective Congress and Rodney Michael announcing his candidacy. What an insult! This is an affront to the integrity of football stakeholders in the country and gives a prelude of what a Rodney Michael Presidency will be in Sierra Leone football- DISASTER! The Association and all other football stakeholders will be at the whims and caprices of the Michaels and cabal. This is a similar situation members of the Sport Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) have been subjected into. What a pity!
It is my prediction here that when Rodney Michael would have been defeated by the capable team of Isha Johansen, Brima Mazolla Kamara and Alie Commoner Kargbo, Mercury International will again withdrew its sponsorship to football in Sierra Leone. This is my prediction. Just mark my words.
I am therefore calling on all football stakeholders in the country to put the interest of Mama Salone first and allow our football to continue flourishing as it is happening presently.
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