The Sierra Leone National Beach Volleyball team has raised concerns over the government’s little effort in promoting the game.
The concerns came in the aftermath of the Regional Volleyball Championship zone two victory in Guinea Bissau. Sierra Leone has now won the competition for the second year in a row, after they defeated the host, Guinea Bissau on January 29, 2023, and the Gambia in September 2022. The male team took the third position after an impressive performance as well.
Despite the back-to-back gold medals and other successes made so far in this competition, the government’s support for volleyball in the country has been minimal, if any.
Expressing their concerns, the jubilant players said their win meant so much to them and the country as a whole, but they face so many challenges, and they are dissatisfied with the fact that the government is only focused on football and not rendering support and sponsorship for volleyball.
The head coach of the team Abdul Razack said the team travelled by road for a regional competition, and the team’s first match had to be postponed after its late arrival on matchday. Mr. Razack added that to make up for the postponed match and to keep with schedule, they played three matches in one day. In the process, he said, a player picked up an injury, and the team played with fatigue too.
The national captain for the female volleyball team, Binta Bah, said the unfriendly experiences they had this time around are no different from what they had on their way to Gambia for the same competition. She pleaded that the government should support them to keep their spirit and passion for the game alive.
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidi Tunis commended the volleyball team for their resilience in pushing through despite the challenges they face. He further commended them in a Facebook post and encouraged the team members to continue flying the flag of Sierra Leone on the international scene, promising to give the support the team needs. According to Radio Democracy, he gave the team a prize of USD 2000.
The government’s failure to support volleyball is its same attitude to other sporting activities as well, despite the successes registered by the different disciplines. In 2022 some sports groups representing Sierra Leone outside had to seek funds from some corporate institutions and the public to be able to do so.
The Minister of Sports, Ibrahim Nyelenkeh is quoted as saying this has been because of an allocated budget that is insufficient to reallocate to every discipline.