The Sierra Leone men’s National team, the Leone Stars participated in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON21) in Cameroon after 25 years of non-participation. Huge!!

AFCON is the best tournament in the continent that provides the perfect opportunity for African nations to showcase some of their best talents.

Our journey was cut short at the group stage after two draws with two of the continent’s best footballing nations and a defeat in our final group games against the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ถ

The nation once again came together to give their unflinching support to their national team, the Leone Stars. And government once again gave huge financial support to players.

Our first two matches show a glimpse of a brighter future that lies ahead of our darling Leone Stars as we were able to withstand two of the continent’s best teams (Algeria and Ivory Coast)

Yes, we were very excited and proud of our team despite the early elimination at the group stage.

The team returned home and of course, fans welcome their heroes after what was viewed as a good tournament overall.

Now that we are back, what’s next for our darling Leone Stars and football development overall in the country??

1. Urgent reforms in football administration and governance

If there’s anything that we can embrace as a footballing nation going forward is the need for urgent reforms in football and governance. Even before the nations cup in Cameroon, there has always been infighting between football stakeholders which have greatly derailed the progress of football in the country
Urgent reforms in football administration and governance will help better equip the game and exploit the vast opportunities to develop football and better serve all stakeholders.
This will help rebuild our reputation and prepare us for the future. It will also create a more efficient and sustainable FA, one more capable of implementing reforms and football governance.

2. Development of youth football

The development of youth football across the country cannot be overemphasized as it is glaring to see that the talent is there but the progress is slow. If we should do better, we must develop youth football at all stages to prepare the boys for the national team. It will help them develop together and better understand themselves well.

3. Football infrastructure

One thing that is lacking in our nation is that there’s no better infrastructure for football in the country. No adequate stadiums and training facilities for the development of football. Our national stadium has for many years, not been in a good shape to host international matches. The Antonio Rudiger foundation launched in Freetown is good news as the foundation seeks to develop football education, sports infrastructure and inclusivity. I hope we take advantage of this and ensure that we make the foundation succeed in the country.

4. Accountability in football

Accountability should not be shelved off the carpet if football should develop in the country. There have been rumours of corruption and mismanagement of the AFCON funds. At the last government press briefing at the Ministry of Information and Communication, the minister of sport, Mohamed Nyalekeh, the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), Thomas Daddy Brim and representative of the National Sports Authority (NSA) were not present to give an account of funds received and expended during the Africa Cup of Nations. We must not take lightly accountability measures in football.

5. Non-interference in football

One fact that was notable at AFCON 21 was that there were too many interferences of powerful men in the national. The coach and all technical staff must be given the free will to perform their duties independently. Everyone associated with the national team must have their roles and functions clearly defined and stated so that everyone will know when and what to do as per their roles and functions.

It’s my hope that the government and football stakeholders will take cognizance of some of the issues highlighted in this piece.