By Joseph A. Kamanda
The question of where are the past glories of Sierra Leone football still remains very much topical in several public discussions and debates on so many platforms on the new and mainstream media at home and aboard, as to what exactly went wrong and why the long slumbering of over seventeen years day dreaming of the most popular sporting discipline in Sierra Leone. Much was never experienced during past eras of Sierra Leone Football Association (SLAF) chiefs – Nahim Khadi, Joseph Samba Kaifala to name just the few onto where we are today in the sporting discipline of football as a country.
Of who actually killed the sport requires right more answers from past and present FA chiefs and managers including Isha Johansen; starting with the very line Ministry of Sport/youth and sports, the leadership of the SLFA down to clubs level as preliminary commitments towards proffering permanent and lasting solutions with remedies to the current predicaments faced by football in Sierra Leone.
“The issue of total collapsed of football in Sierra Leone does not starts and ends with only one leadership, of either the SLFA, Ministry of Sports/youth and sports as political head of the sector, as well as various chairpersons of local communities as well as clubs,” an anonymous insider observes at the football academy in Kingtom, with keen interest in who should be held accountable for the long standing retrogression of football in Sierra Leone.
The deteriorating status of football is never good news to many Leone Stars, Black Pool, East End Lions, FC Kallon, Bo Rangers fans amongst others, but the FA administrations seem care less about reactions of whichever come from the people. Rather, Isha Johansen continues to delay to take leave of the FA through the much awaited congress; the only legitimate means of showing the Johansen administration the exit out from the SLFA secretariat and give football a chance to play.
The sector is fully government and donor – FIFA and CAF funded though extremely corrupt despite efforts to tackle graft in football and sports in general, as lack of proper financial audits and accountability systems are negatively factoring on the smooth progress and promotion of the football, which for many recent legal actions of the Francis Ben Kaifala’s Anti-Corruption Commission and the just slammed injunction against the Johansen and co executive could be seen as positive moves on the right path towards restoring the past glories of Sierra Leone football and at the same time further punctuate the infamous and archaic FA executive and it’s leadership.
She looks untouchable, the ACC had tried its bit, yet Isha and Co. continue to preside over the administration and management of Sierra Leone football, which is completely wrong. However one looks at ACC as sincere anti-graft fighters should have dig deep into the financial records dating back to the days of Khadi and J.S. Kaifala had the commission really meant business. But selective justice is madly overriding the whole efforts.
Thus the injunction filed by Augustine Kambo, Mohamed Bello Yella and Samuel Batewa to solicit the legal and court interpretation of the FA constitution, relating to the selection of teams to the Sierra Leone Premier League level. We don’t know why she has been kept in office up to now, she auth to have conducted an elective congress to ensure smooth transition of managements and administration of football from her to a new FA leadership and executive,” an SLFA member wonders, whiles vividly reflecting on the magnitude of casualties the game had suffered from in the hands of bad FA leaderships, coupled with lack of political will.
Johansen according to sources at SLFA secretariat has led the worst and most indiscipline FA ever in the history of Sierra Leone football. She virtually shows little or no regard for rules and regulations governing the association; she flouts procedures with impunity all due to her said affiliations with FIFA despite her failures in returning home with football trophies. Is she a successful woman leader? If yet then she deserves another term for a re-election but if the answer is no, then the SLFA needs a better replacement of Isha Johansen regime as the next FA president? Not the bossy madam we used to have in the seat at the FA secretariat at Kingtom. This time around football fans want to see and work with real a servant to the game, not one looking for wealth from the football, whiles making wrong uses of her influences and connections to the then powers that be to just prolong her stay in office and continue to destroy the game.
SLFA through the ministry of sports is said to have requested for Le 41bn from the ministry of finance to run football alone, though it not properly monitored would be utilize to buy Isha and Chris Kamara air tickets for overseas travelling, and spend the rest of the annual allocation elsewhere, while clubs continue with empty hopes of winning local competitions, in the very absent of prudency in financial managements as the case may always be. Discipline needs to be firmly instilled in the institution’s resource especially financial managements. So to exhume football from the grave yard where it has been buried by Isha’s SLFA the association needs to call for an immediate elective congress to elect a new FA executive and reform and unite the association and football as a whole.
Of who were in charge of what and when in Sierra Leone, is the key question past and present leaders – football stakeholders including former president Ernest Bai Koroma, his former Ministers of Sports/Youth and Sports, Paul Abu Bakarr Kamara, Ahmed Kanou, Nahim Khadi, J. S. Kaifala and the current SLFA president Isha Johansen, and her executive need to offer the appropriate answers to concerns raised herein before it is too late. They all owe it to the youth and young adults of Sierra Leone, for failing in their duties to conduct, organize develop and promote football for the youth of the country. There were lots of expectations from youth that the former minister Kamara with vast experience in sports football in particular, would have resurrects the game in Sierra Leone, but FATHER and his team of football managers failed woefully to turn things around for his boys. And therefore deserved to be blamed for not meeting their various leadership commitments in fulfilling pledges made by politicians to promote and develop football.
In fact Paul’s inept at the sports ministry principally in handling the continuing impasses between the SLFA executive of Johansen and the rest of the FA, remind many of when Sierra Leone football was well handled, organized and promoted by past managements of Navos, Bindi, A.D. Wurie, Edward Arker amongst others of blessed memories who had in diverse ways played their different parts in developing football. These fallen heroes of SLFA leaderships proved themselves extremely well in the promotion, organizations and development of Sierra Leone football; from three level league divisions of one two and three.
Unlike under Johansen and Kamara as well as Khadi and Samba so many unethical and unprofessional wrongdoings went unpunished onto the period of former president Koroma and his sport minister who did not push for further reforms, not to mention arrogant Isha Johansen.
At least something must have been done by the last regime to have regulated the FA president as a state but that was never the case under neither former president Koroma, ministers Kamara nor Kanou. This poor governance of football by the Isha Johansen rule cut across right through tenures of offices of ex- sport ministers Kamara, Kanu and former president Koroma who campaigned with football in 2012 but failed to promote the game having won the 2012 polls.
The more reason is Isha presiding over crisis after the other almost always embattled with everybody in the sport industry, yet she remained untamed.
For the eras of Joseph Samba Kaifala and Nahim Khadi not much impressive was recorded in terms of victory in the game onto the current Isha Johansen leadership, who is even worse than others. Her only hope is the delaying strategy for the transition through a long overdue elective congress, which is negatively impacting on the overall organization, development and promotion of football.
Sadly enough since the early 90s Sierra Leone had hardly record any remarkable achievement of sound football victory, except for the weak 2013 FIFA Africa ranking, under failed former Minister of Youth and Sports, Kamara of the past APC administration.
Kamara had always engaged in internal wrangling with members targeting the leadership of the SLFA in a fight that he never won, and his wealth of experience in sport-football could not organize local community nor the national premier leagues, but continue with divisive tendencies to a peak of rendering football useless and total collapse, under the hegemonies of failed SLFA chairperson Isha Johansen, Paul Kamara, Ahmed Kanou and former president Koroma, less we talk of Kaifal and Khadi with no exemption of the president Julius Maada Bio and his sports minister Yenlenkeh’s administration are partly responsible for the retrogression of the game of football in Sierra Leone.
Those two Khadie and Kaifala are in fact billionaires in Leones and foreign currencies alleged to have fraudulently secured from earnings of poor managements of Sierra Leone football. That’s why Khadi is hardly seen in Sierra Leone simply because he knows what he did as the then SLFA president.
So whenever questions and concerns of who killed Sierra Leone football emerge we expect people to accuse the right leaders and football managers from the 90s to date try as best the authorities to bring them to book to give full account of their collective stewardships as public servants so that the game can be resurrected from its long slumber.