In February, I was fortunate enough to be in Accra, Ghana for the African Nations Cup. While I was in Accra, I learnt two things: Ghanaians love Ghana, and Ghanaians love football. I was amazed and in awe of the overwhelming support for the national team: the black stars. There was not a car that passed by without the national flag attached to it, neither was there a restaurant, hotel, or public venue that was Black Star banner free.
t-shirts, hats, wigs, cuff links…even panties but I didn’t buy any unmentionables :=)
I headed to Lagos right after Ghana had beat Nigeria in the semifinals…and I remember teasing a Nigerian friend over their loss…he simply retorted… “and how was your performance?? Oh wait a minute, Sierra Leone didn’t qualify, and u fit talk”. Trying to save face, I told him that it was our choice not to participate….we both laughed at my unending effort to paint a brighter picture of Salone.
In the next month or, the national team has three games to play against Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, and South Africa. I am 100% certain that all three countries spend more money on their national team than we do. Granted their GDPs and per capita income far exceed ours and they do not rank as low on HDI and are not post conflict societies.( Do you see all my million and one excuses why we may be doomed to not qualify for the world cup)
We’ve convinced ourselves that when it comes to athletic ability that its pure skill, talent, and practice…etc…and I agree that this is so on the individual level. But when it comes to national soccer, the conditions (money has to be available) have to be right for a National Team to succeed in international competitions.
Some people might think that qualifying for the world cup or football in Sierra Leone is trivial compared to staggering infant mortality rates and issues like corruption and the filth ridden streets of Freetown and I would say they’re probably right. But if the National Team can qualify for the world cup it would do amazing wonders in unifying this country, it will give us a reason to be proud, patriotic, and it will help to develop our confidence in ourselves as Sierra Leoneans. Little boys, little girls, market women, and okada drivers, money man dem, bombas, and combras alike will know that we are just as able and capable to compete on an international level as other countries. No to all tem salone fo cam last…
There are several ideas that I have that were inspired by the time I spent in Ghana during the Nations Cup but the most important of these ideas is opening a bank account for the Leone Stars and ask all Sierra Leoneans who want us to make it to the World Cup to contribute to the World Cup Effort. Sierra Leoneans love football. During the Champions League, and European Football Tournament, young boys and men of all ages flock to cinema halls and pay between Le 1000- Le 3000 ($0.30-$1:00) to watch live games on satellite. We need to get these same young men and sometimes women to sacrifice there one thousand leones one time and contribute to the teams World Cup Fund. I’ve already called a friend who is a treasurer at ECOBANK and shared the idea with the team coach and other football and Sierra Leone lovers. So far people think it’s a good idea.
The point is that we need to unify behind the National team and make sure that they have the financial support they need to attempt to qualify for the World Cup.
Sierra Leone World Cup 2010? HOW AMAZING THAT WILL BE INDEED!!!!!!!!