In order to boost football in the country the SLPP led Government headed by President Julius Maada Bio has boosted the Premier League Board with Le 1.5 Billion Leones in addition to the initial 2 Billion given few weeks ago.
This new development was made known by Jacob Jusu Saffa, Minister of Finance, after directives from President Julius Maada Bio.
Initially, the Chairman of the Premier League Board, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, presented a budget of 3.5 Billion Leones to Government for the entire League.
As a result of the successful outcome of the League past Sunday between Mighty Blackpool and East End Lions, President Bio who was the Guest of Honor thought it fit to give more support to the PLB.
President Bio at the Siaka Stevens Stadium pledged his Government’s continued commitment to supporting football in the country.
The PLB Chairman Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai thanked the Government for the additional boost, whilst assuring of using the money for its intended purpose.
He promised to add to the initial Le 50,000,000 seed money given to each of the Clubs to between Le 80,000,000 and Le 100,000,000.
It will be significant for readers to note that after a five-year coma, Sierra Leone’s Premier League has made a glorious return to the National Stadium in Freetown. Thirty thousand fans, including President Bio, filled the stadium to watch two legendary local teams kick off the opening match of the 2019 season. The premier league is happening outside of the control of the Sierra Leone Football Association which is currently in disarray with two of its top executives on trial for corruption and a ban from FIFA.
This notwithstanding Sierra Leoneans united to bring local football back for the fans. Local businesses and entrepreneurs put up the funds needed to get the league up and the government put up 2 billion leones ($230,000) to finance the season in the absence of FIFA.
This is what happens when the people and the government work together. The first matchup between East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool was broadcast on national TV, radio, and online. Those who could not be in the stadium fans in the diaspora tuned in online to watch AYV broadcast and stream on its website, mobile app and Facebook. The East End Lions took the lead in the first half with a goal from Alusine Koroma.
Mighty Blackpool would go on to dominate with ball possession throughout the game but their balls on target were minimal. Whether the FIFA ban holds or not everyone in Sierra Leone appears committed to making sure that the premier league continues to grow. The league is a welcome respite from the political issues of the day. Today SLPP and APC politicians found themselves as fans supporting the same local teams.
What makes football a beautiful game is less about what happens on the pitch but more about the bond it creates amongst people. The last complete season of the premier league was in 2013. In that year the trophy went to Diamond Stars. After 2013 there was a split in the league with a majority of the teams boycotting the leadership of Isha Johansen. This season all teams have returned to the premier league.