Sierra Leone Old Footballers Association plans big for nation as it gets set to partake in 50th Independence Celebrations

Published on January 21, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

The Sierra Leone Old Footballers Association in the diaspora will be storming Sierra Leone to participate in the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations . They will hook up with their colleague veteran footballers  in Sierra Leone -The Heroes– to  stage soccer matches all over the country to bring cheer to soccer fans and help make the Jubilee celebrations memorable.  The soccer stars’ plans were unveiled yesterday during an exclusive interview conducted by COCORIOKO with the Chairman  of the Association, Mr. Patrick Dangawallie , who was with another soccer legend, Mr. Leslie Allen. The two former soccer heroes also  outlined to this newspaper the goals and objectives of the organization  and their lofty dreams for Sierra Leone Football .

Mr. Dangawallie , a former goalkeeping soccer intellect with Old Edwardians Football Club and the National Team, Leone Stars, and other old footballers have been mobilizing in the United States where they have even organized a league and staged competitions in different  cities in the Continental USA. They announced to COCORIOKO  their plans to take part in the 50th Anniversary and an interview was arranged by Mr. Allen, who did not only play  for Leone Stars, while starring for Ports Authority and East End Lions, but showcased his prodigious dribbling and goalscoring skills in the Ivory Coast and Gabon.  Cocorioko wanted to know the genesis of this promising-looking organization and an interesting interview took place.

COCORIOKO : Messrs Dangawallie and Allen, welcome to this interview . Many Sierra Leoneans have heard about your organization. They will want to know what you are planning. Can you explain how this organization came about ? 

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : The Association was formed many years back but this is the first time we have elected members after our many ups and downs. We formed the Association for two main reasons . Firstly, it was formed to by us to help each other in America , especially in times of crisis. If any old footballer has problems, we plan to go to his home to identify ourselves with the problem. You know that life in America is not as easy as it is portrayed back home. As old footballers who have served our country well, we want to make life easier for ourselves by helping each other. The second reason is that we want to maintain contact with our colleagues in Freetown who have also formed an old footballers association known as THE HEROES, led by former Mighty Blackpool and Leone Stars Skipper , Umaru Din-Sesay. (PHOTO RIGHT : PATRICK DANGAWALLIE )

COCORIOKO : Who are the brains behind this organization ?

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE :  At first, two old footballers, Messrs Allieu Ngainga , formerly of Mighty Blackpool and Darlington Tucker of Old Edwardians got together and then Sentu Johnson of Real Republicans joined them. Allie would call us every Saturday and we will connect with the other old footballers by phone. The others involved at the time also included Sybil Decker , Foday Sesay, Leslie Allen, Alhaji Botie Kamara , John Dumbuya,Wallace Addy , D.D. Abu etc.

COCORIOKO : It must have been really exciting reuniting with colleagues .


PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : It surely was. From this point, we started asking ourselves : “Why not form an old footballers association here ” .We had the first meeting at Mr.Dangawallie’s house , where we decided to put together an interim body. Sybil was the Chairman ( He’s the Treasurer today );  I was the Vice-Chairman. I am the Chairman today.

COCORIOKO : What a lofty idea to form such an association  ! What direction do you hope to move it ?

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE :  We want to make it bigger. We want to include all the old footballers in the U.S .and try to unite them with our colleagues in England, Holland,France, Germany etc. We will challenge them to form organizations too and they will raise funds which we will use to make a difference in Sierra Leone. Incase people do not know , 90% of the old footballers are unemployed.

COCORIOKO : It is sad to hear the stories of our old footballers. I learnt that many have died.I met Tungi King, the former Ports Authority half back , recently. He  told me that Joseph Ngaimoh, another soccer legend of Ports Authority fame,  has died.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : Yes, I heard about it but I think he died long ago. Sad.

COCORIOKO : So what do you plan to do for the surviving old footballers ?

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE: We have plans to put them in junior schools as coaches. If all goes well, we will be paying their salaries. We want to help advance the course of football in Sierra Leone. In America,  will try to help those undergoing hardships until they can get on their feet again. Many of them coming to America have lots of problems and we plan to help them settle down.

COCORIOKO : One thing you could also do is stage football competitions to raise funds for the wives and children of old footballers who are deceased. You could, for instance, organize a WILLIAM DOMINGO OR ISHMAEL DYFAN MEMORIAL COMPETITION, invite IE and Barrolle from Liberia and A.S. Kaloum and Hafia or ASFAG from Guinea and let them play an international competition in Freetown with our leading teams like Mighty Blackpool, East End Lions and FC Kallon. You will raise a lot of funds because people will want to see how our boys fare against these foreign teams .The money could be used to help the families of footballers who are dead.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : We have already done that. We did that for the families of Brima Attuga Kamara , Dyfan and Domingo. We gave the proceeds to the families.

COCORIOKO : Well, that was great. At least, the families will understand that somebody cares. What do you plan to do to revive interest in our local soccer because it now appears that the English Premier League has taken over in Sierra Leone. You have people talking more about Manchester United or Arsenal or Chelsea than Blackpool , Lions or Ports.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : You are right. The EPL is taking over.

COCORIOKO :  And this is not only in Sierra Leone. It is the same in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. I have read people complaining in their newspapers that fans are much more interested now in the EPL than local soccer.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE:  This is sad but we will do something to revive interest in local soccer .

COCORIOKO : It it true that you even plan to take part in the 50th Anniversary celebrations ?

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : Oh, yes. This is an historic moment and we are going in full force to participate. We have coordinated with other old footballers living in Europe  with whom we are working hand-in-hand and we are going in full force to give a hand to the nation and the government.

COCORIOKO : Specifically, what do you hope to accomplish when you go ?

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : We are planning to hook up in Freetown with THE HEROES, and make this a worthy cause for those who are playing now and those who are retired for them to know that if they do well they will get a hand. We plan soccer matches in Freetown, Bo, Kenema ,Makeni where we will showcase these old footballers to the people who have heard their names before but never had the opportunity to see them in action so that we can put the smile back on the faces of these fans and the footballers. We also want to put money back into soccer .We will also provide balls and other sporting equipment.

COCORIOKO : What motivated you to go back and do all these things ? Something must have motivated you. 

LESLIE ALLEN  : As I said earlier, this is an historic moment and we want to go back to participate in it to let people know that we the old footballers still care for our country. After the trials and tribulations our country has gone through, we believe we have to go and contribute to the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in the way we know best–through sports. Since sports is a universal language ,we want to bring back sports to what it was decades back. The games and projects we are planning will bring in money and business and help to stimulate the economy.

COCORIOKO : This is impressive to hear.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE : And another thing that has excited us to go is the leadership of the country, which is seeking the interest of the people. As you write yourself, in 50 years of Independence, this is the first President we have had who is doing everything to develop the country .We want him to know we appreciate what he is doing for the nation .This is why we are coming in full force to help celebrate .And I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all old footballers around the world. If you read this interview and you are an old footballer please call us. My number is 817-705-8547.

COCORIOKO : Well , Messrs Dangawallie and Leslie Allen , this will suffice for now. We will have more interviews. In the next interview, we will discuss the most memorable moments you can remember in Sierra Leone Football.

PATRICK DANGAWALLIE AND LESLIE ALLEN:  Thank you very much, Reverend , for interviewing us and passing on this important message from us to the international world.

© 2011, Cocorioko Newspaper. All rights reserved. – For the Latest News on Sierra leone

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