In the words of Africa’s most revered elder statesman, Nelson Madiba Mandela, “sports has the power to unite a Nation” and this was confirmed by Her Majesty The Queen of England when she addressed the British people in December by strongly suggesting that “sports can build bridges in communities”.
The queen who is the Head of The Commonwealth further stressed the importance of sports in developing society and how it could be used to create harmony.
Recently, the newly appointed Chairman of The Premier League Board, and revered as Sierra Leone’s most appreciated sporting philanthropist and one of the leading administrators in the country, Mr Rodney Michael, in an interview with AWOKO stated : “Football has the power to unite a Nation”.
The Chairman, who is also the leading candidate for The Presidency of The Sierra Leone Football Association at the 2012 Elections further, commented “When you are in football, you don’t think about political parties, tribes or religions. Everybody comes together for the development of the game and that is why football is the simplest way of bringing people together”.
“It is therefore obvious why Africell, Sierra Leone’s leading mobile network, has become extremely popular with The Passionate Football fans in Sierra Leone. He also said their tireless and dedicated support to the sport over the last few years ranging from Leone Stars to The Salone Premier League spurred on by their belief that Football can provide great satisfaction to the masses in line with the comments attributed to Mandela, Michael and The Queen.
“Africell has always been there for football and their support has never been limited or restricted. What is most amazing is their courage to persevere where other previous sponsors of Football, and in particular The Premier League, have been frustrated and forced to withdraw support to the game”.
He cited Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, the original sponsors for several years when The Premier League was run by The FA, and Comium, under The Premier League Board.
“They have always been the saving grace and reliable supporters to Football always and sports in general, having entered a multi-year sponsorship of Volleyball. They have also been the most identifiable Mobile Company working towards providing extremely affordable rates and promotions to make customers rich overnight as evident in their recent award of Le 60,000,000/00 and Le 20,000,000/00 to two lucky winners.
However, the question now in the minds of the public is whether Africell will be willing to support the efforts and determination of a new Board led by a passionate and confident Michael, renowned for his ability to promote and market sponsors, seen over the last few years in his role with Mercury International, a Sports and Lottery Company”.
Mr Michael has emphasized since his regularized appointment on Friday the 9th January 2011 that his intention was to ensure the one round league of 2010/2011 must start and finish before June 2011.
He expressed his desire to make it the best run league ever in Sierra Leone, and one to compete with the rest of West Africa. He suggested that the total cost of a one round league which implies 91 matches in Freetown and the four major cities in the Provinces, namely Bo, Makeni, Kenema and Kono , taking all expenses to be incurred by the clubs and the PLB into consideration is Le 500,000,000/00 ( Five Hundred Million Leones).
However, Mr Michael was quick to point out that the main sponsor, Africell the favourite to be approached, is not expected to foot all the bills, but that associate sponsors will be invited to join Africell or whoever the main sponsor is,in ensuring a new era in Football commences and The Premier League is befitting the 50th Independence Celebrations in Sierra Leone.
In an interview with Mr Michael he affirmed that the new PLB unanimously resolved to approach Africell as the Principal sponsor in gratitude for their support over the years, in spite of individual opinions or suggestions.
He also suggested that there has been an interest from Mercury International and other Companies as associate sponsors but no one has fully committed their Company and no negotiations have commenced until the main sponsor has been identified.
Mr Michael was confident that The Premier League will commence in February and assured that it will be a League not to be forgotten.
He however cautioned that without sponsors, it will be an assiduous task for The PLB. He concluded that The Premier League will be named after the main Sponsor.