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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Footballer

by Alhassan Lamin
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(Français ci-dessous) I am a 21-year-old footballer for the Black Hall Road Strikers Football Club in Freetown, Sierra Leone. I started pursuing my football career at a very young age when I was in school. When my mother died, I had to drop out of school. There was no one to pay my fees. That’s when I put all my focus on football. My brothers were in college, so I thought if I focused on football, they didn’t have to worry about supporting me. Then after they finished school, I figured they could help me.

I first heard about the COVID-19 pandemic in a WhatsApp conversation with friends. My biggest fear was the negative impact it is going to have on the game. Before Sierra Leone recorded its index case, life as a footballer wasn’t perfect, but it was okay. I played at Division One level, and I was able to earn a living from the sport. My favorite part of the game is the fans. The team’s management used ticket sales to give us a stipend since we don’t earn a monthly salary.

When the government imposed a ban on all sporting activities due to the pandemic’s spread, I was stuck. I had to sit at home without doing anything. I work out alone so I can keep fit and stay healthy. I am grateful to my brothers for supporting me throughout this period. I am not earning anything for the game that I love so much.

Currently, I have two hopes. The one is we get back to the pitch like in other countries across the world have done. But fans won’t be allowed in the stadiums to watch us play at this point. My other hope is to go back to school. With the support of my brothers, I was able to take the WASSCE exams. I’m hoping to meet the entry requirements to study Banking and Finance.

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