President Bio Snubs Sierra Leone Athletes Despite Winning 7 Medal at African Athletics Championship
President Julius Maada Bio has snubbed the Sierra Leone Athletics Association SLAA team despite them winning medals in the African Athletics Championship held in Nigeria.
In May 2021 the association competed and won 7 medals consisting of gold, silver, and bronze respectively.
They said however since their return the government has refused to welcome, nor reimbursed the team.
The Public Relations Officer of the association Fatorma Sam speaking on AYV’s Wake Up Salone Program said since their return the athletes have been pleading to meet with the president and present him with their medals.
“People need to welcome us they need to give that motivation because that is what we are seeking,” he said.
“As it stands for now we don’t have anything and we have not received anything from the Ministry of Sport, not even congratulations,” He added.
Sam continued to say that in sports you will have to appreciate what people do because it has to do with time, energy, and resources adding that some people in Sierra Leone don’t have the opportunity to go to school and some have written their WASSCE Exam but don’t have money to go to the University.
“They depend on the sport, sport is their lives, sport is their education, sport is everything for them, so we depend on the allowances, if they give us the per diem that is what we will use to buy their supplement for the year, that is what we will use to pay for the gym and nutritionist,” he said.
Sam said their trip to Nigeria was very challenging, as some of their colleagues were unable to go due to some issues with their covid tests in Ghana which caused them to miss their flight because they were in the airport for over 8 hours.
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He added that their accommodation and feeding during the competition was from their own pockets
He also added that as an association they felt jealous because the concentration of the government is too much on football.
“The Concentration is too much on football, that is why we are jealous in any situation we too are co-representing the nation, we are athletes we are national athletes, the cry is everywhere, so we want the government to hear us, we want the president to hear us that the athletes are here and we came home with 7 medals and we want to present these medals to the president and also let them give us what we are supposed to have and that is our per diem and our allowances,” he said.
The Athletics Association is said to start plans to represent the country in the Olympics in Japan
The Government of Sierra Leone through the National Sports Authority NSA responsible for the regulation and preparation of sporting activity in the country had asked that the athletes travel on their own finances, saying that they would reimburse them when they return.
Eric Fomba the Public Relations Officer for the Nationals Sports Authority responding to the claims said the issue with their funds being reimbursed was not with the NSA as they had verified the budget sent to them by the association and they have since sent the said budget to the Ministry of Finance for the monies to be made available to the athletes.
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Fomba also said that his office the NSA is looking for an appropriate time for them to properly met with the athletes and congratulate them soon.