In spite of FIFA Financial Ban - SLFA President Awakens Youth and Female Football

By Abdul Hassan Fackie and Edward Kabba Sesay, Freetown, Sierra Leone. January 5, 2024.

Following his appointment as President of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima (pictured) has been hailed by football administrators for his decision to revatalise both youth and female football leagues that had been in deep slumber for many years.

Records have it that under his tenure as president, the country's Under 17 played a friendly match with the Liberia Under 17. Quite apart from that, the country has witnessed drastic changes in creating opportunities for young footballers of  Under 15 and Under 23 competitions for both the national male and female teams, thereby creating room for them to unleash their potential to represent the country in various regional competitions.

From our investigations, we found out that Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima's  decision to bolster the  youth football was born out of his realisation that there is huge problem in youth football with no plans for the upcoming generation.

His decision to appoint Mr. Alimamy Kuraish Conteh after consultations with the football association was very wise and started yielding results  that saw two  Under 15 players, Mohamed J.J . Conteh and Bailor Bah leaving the  country to stay with the Al Ain in Dubai until their 18th birthdays when the management of the Al Ain will provide them with professional contracts in Europe.

Both  players, SLFA sources told us, were featured in an international youth tournament in April of 2023 with clubs like Inter Milan, Leeds United, Villarreal, Sporting Lisbon and Salzburg.

Another feather was also added to  President Thomas Daddy Brima's cap when Mr. Alimamy Kuraish Conteh also travelled with four Under 17 players namely, Sallieu Bah, Ziggy Brown of Central Parade, Micheal Kargbo Jr.  of Old Edwardians and Santigie Fornah of Freetonian SLIFA to JFV Nordkreis FC and also attending schools.

It could be recalled that Mr. John Smith, a former member of the Sierra Leone Premier league Board from 2019 to 2022, appreciated the role played by Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima on the grounds that despite his administration was struggling with funds, he, Thomas Daddy Brima,  provided monies for all eighteen clubs to kick start the league and further ensured the league came to an end by chipping in with assistance as and when the need arose.

According to Mr. John Smith, Thomas Daddy Brima is the first SLFA president to attend Premier League Board meetings and meetings with various football clubs. According to him, it was during the tenure of Thomas Daddy Brima that registration of players was done electronically via the Internet that brought to an end manual or paper registration.

Mr. John Smith however cited finances and playing grounds as  challenges encountered during the 2021-2022 season,  making  the league strenuous for most of the participating clubs .

Mr. Mohamed Fornah, a former player who represented Sierra Leone in FIFA World Cup Under 17 in Finland explained to us that he will remember Thomas Daddy Brima as the  SLFA President qualified the national team, Leone  Stars for the Africa Cup of Nations after years of being in limbo.

He also disclosed that it was under Thomas Daddy Brima's administration that a successful league played, that is both home and away and ended successfully.

He also stated that it was under Thomas Daddy Brima's watch that the female footballers started rolling the leather regardless of the fact that money had been coming in for the female league in the past but no female games  were played. He further disclosed that it was under  Thomas Daddy Brima that the  Female Premier League Board was constituted.
" I don't know why Sierra Leone should encounter a FIFA financial ban under the tenure of Thomas Daddy Brima," Mr. Mohamed Fornah fumed. 

He pointed out that Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima has not misappropriated any funds since he assumed office, noting that it  may be the sins of the previous SLFA  administration that is now affecting the present administration.

He stressed that Thomas Daddy Brima is a trust worthy man who gives accounts for his stewardship at SLFA.

Our investigations also discovered that even though Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima continued help has brought in new workers, he still maintained all the staff of the previous administration.
" Many are saying that SLFA only changes the driver but same passengers", he said.

A popular  football administrator and former SLFA Presidential aspirant, Mr.  Rodney Michael has also commended Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima for being able to keep the FA afloat in the face of the FIFA financial ban that he inherited. According to Mr. Michael, when an administration finds itself in such a situation, it gives rise to an obstacle to growth as finances that are coming are attached with conditions or restrictions.

"Because of the financial ban, the work of the SLFA  Secretariat will be seriously hampered as  finances are tied down to specific programmes", Mr. Michael noted. Dilating on unity in the football family, Mr.  Michael said that Mr. Brima is trying to move towards that direction but stated that the President has some loyalists that are ring fencing around him, offending people they perceive as opponents thereby creating problems for him and causing him to offend other people. He averred that while Mr. Brima is trying to bring all factions together as one family, some of his supporters are undermining his leadership  and pushing some perceived opponents away from him. He called on Mr.  Brima to try and get the  Under 15 and Under 17 players to start playing international but noted that what is primary is for regional or national leagues of such nature to commence so that they can identify good players. He pointed out that the best talents are not being identified because of the absence of league structures for Under 15 and Under 17.

He noted that marketing Sierra Leonean players is difficult because they are playing in dusty fields.

According to him, the financial ban that Mr. Brima inherited will not last much longer. He opined that very soon Sierra Leoneans will see playing grounds that will be upgraded with artificial turfs  that will make the pitch much better.

" I hope he will do more in his remaining years ahead but he  should fight tooth and nail to overcome the FIFA financial  ban and things will be more easier for him," he concluded.

Mr. Thomas Daddy Brima President of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA)