Sierra Leone: Update
- 09 June 2011 15:53
- Posted by David Clayton
Things are certainly progressing well over in Sierra Leone where the bus bought and paid for by City fans has changed the lives of one local community and given undreamt of opportunities to hundreds of others.
Howard Burr and Alex Channon, who are respectively secretaries of the Reddish and Swinton City Supporters’ branches, took interest in the cause, first highlighted by exiled City fan Tony Griffiths who moved to Sierra Leone in 2003 to train the local police force.
Together they collected City shirts donated by generous fans and the group then asked the City to get involved – which it did, donating a full kit for the newly-formed Manchester City Sierra Leone FC team in Freetown as well as a junior team.
In 2008 the Phuket branch of the MCFC Supporters Club donated a brand new home and away kit as the shirts from 2003 became a bit aged. On the 23 November in the same year the youth team took part in the Sierra Leone FA Youth Cup final and won, after only four years of playing together.
One of the most prohibitive costs to the Sierra Leone team was getting to away matches and this eventually led to the team being suspended from the league because they were unable to fulfill away fixtures due to lack of funds.
To solve this problem, the group decided to raise monies to buy a small coach that could both serve as the team’s transport as well as providing a vital source of income in the process.
After a fantastic fundraising effort by hugely generous fans, the 32-seater bus arrived in Manchester on 12 July and eventually shipped to Sierra Leone on 31 August 2010.
Armani Sheku Kamara, who was been the main point of contact for the Sierra Leone Blues, came across to visit the City squad during the 2010/11 season has been keeping everyone up-to-date on the Manchester City Sierra Leone Club.
“The new season will kick off next week,” said Armani. “Manchester City will play Belvic United to start the League on the 13 June at the Sierra Leone National Stadium.
Our coaches have prepared the team well and we are hoping to win promotion to the Premiership or at least maintain our status in Division One
In another encouraging development, the salaries of players has been increased from 70,000 Leones for youth players to 100,000 Leones (£14) and from 120,000 Leones for senior players to 150,000 Leones (£21).
“We have been able to do this thanks to the funds raised by the bus the City fans bought for us,” commented Armani.
“It is, at present, on a three-month contract with African Mineral and the money raised helps maintain the vehicle, pay the drivers and funds the club so it has been crucial to our existence and progress forward.
“We hope we are doing City proud by our efforts in Sierra Leone but we couldn’t have done any of it without the generosity of the City fans and the support of the Club.”