Tragedy strikes Sierra Leone football

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 March 2024:

In the heart of Sierra Leone, a nation with a rich footballing heritage, tragedy has struck the football community. The Sierra Leone Port Authority Football Club (SLPAFC) faces a devastating loss following a tragic accident that claimed lives, including their head coach, Lamin Bangoura, and left several players injured.

This incident has sparked a crucial discussion regarding the lack of proper management within the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) and the Sierra Leone Port and Harbour Authority (SLPHA).

Sierra Leone, like many countries in Africa, grapples with infrastructural challenges that extend to its sporting sector. Inadequate resources and poor management have long plagued football clubs across the nation.

The road accident involving SLPAFC sheds light on the dire need for improved safety measures and better management practices within the footballing community.

One of the glaring issues highlighted by this tragedy is the reliance on commercial buses for transportation to away matches. With just a few teams in the Sierra Leone Premier League owning their own team buses, the majority are left with no choice but to depend on commercial transportation, often lacking in safety standards and reliability.

The SLFA must address this disparity by implementing measures to ensure that all premier league teams have access to their own buses equipped with trained drivers.

Furthermore, the timing of travel for away matches must be carefully considered. Inadequate road infrastructure, coupled with poor visibility and safety hazards at night, increase the risk of accidents during travel.

The SLFA should mandate strict guidelines for scheduling matches to avoid late-night travel whenever possible, prioritizing the safety of players and staff.

The tragic loss of lives, including that of Coach Lamin Bangoura, serves as a sombre reminder of the urgent need for reform within the Sierra Leone footballing community. Coach Bangoura was not only a mentor to his players but also a symbol of dedication and passion for the sport.

His untimely demise underscores the responsibility of football authorities to prioritize the safety and well-being of all individuals involved in the game.

In addition to addressing immediate safety concerns, the SLFA must take proactive steps to improve overall team management across the league. Proper training for coaches, staff, and players on safety protocols and emergency procedures should be mandatory.

Additionally, investment in sports medicine and injury prevention programs can help mitigate risks both on and off the field.

The SLFA must work in tandem to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to support football clubs in Sierra Leone. This includes providing financial assistance for the acquisition and maintenance of team buses, as well as implementing regulations to enforce safety standards for all transportation used by premier league teams.

Moreover, accountability and transparency within football governance structures are paramount. The SLFA must be held accountable for its role in overseeing the welfare of football clubs and players.

Regular audits and assessments of management practices should be conducted to identify areas for improvement and ensure compliance with safety regulations.

While the recent tragedy has cast a shadow over the Sierra Leone footballing community, it also presents an opportunity for meaningful change. By learning from past mistakes and implementing necessary reforms, the SLFA can pave the way for a safer and more sustainable future for football in Sierra Leone.

In memory of those who lost their lives in the tragic accident, including Coach Lamin Bangoura, let us honour their legacy by striving for a footballing environment characterized by professionalism, integrity, and above all, safety.

The time for action is now, and it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to prioritize the well-being of the footballing community in Sierra Leone. Only through collective effort and unwavering commitment can we prevent such tragedies from occurring again in the future.


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