FC Johansen U-14 team in Sierra Leone departed the shores of Sierra Leone yesterday for Sweden to take part in the Mittnorden cup tournament, sponsored by Heidelberg cement.
Before the departure yesterday they bid farewell to the Vice President Sam Sumana at state house. Vice President Sumana said in a statement to the players that he is very pleased to have received the team in this historical event adding that he also shares the dream of all of us, as Sierra Leoneans, who want to give the children of this nation a chance to be exposed since their suffering is not of their own making.
He mentioned that as Vice President of this nation, he is very close to sports. He appealed to the players that they should serve as ambassadors in Sweden not only for Sierra Leone, but also Africa, as this is the first time in the history for Africa to be represented in such competitions.
Vice President Sumana stated that the players are going to prove themselves with the skill they have acquired over the past years and later assured the team of the support of FC Johansen and the government.
He mentioned that to see young boys playing football at this age encourages him to give more support than what he has already started a few months ago.
He also said as Vice President he always feels sad to see children at this age involved in violence, especially those in high school, “but your own case will be different; and as sports people you must show discipline and respect in and out of the field.”
The Vice President praised Mr. Johansen for the impact he has created in the life of players and appealed to the boys to make him and the county proud, as the single-legged amputee did some months ago.
The deputy Minister of Education Youth and Sports, who deputized the minister of Education Youth and Sports Minkailu Bah, in his own contribution appealed to the players to bring the trophy home.
He also told the players that when they will be in Sweden they might be at a disadvantage, warning them that they should be careful not to say wrong things in the field that might also affect the country.
He went further that, in his own opinion, the Sierra Leone team will be the best team in the competition if they decide to come together as one family.
One of the founding members of the team, Aisha Tejan Cole, explained to the Vice President what FC Johansen is all about. She said this young football team started about four and half years ago, which was born out of herself and Mr. Johansen to give opportunities to unfortunate children who cannot afford to play, and over the years they have been able to educate them and they have passion for the boys.
She went further that this is the only football club in Sierra Leone that is a publicly limited company that is determined to grow and invite other people to help them to grow.
She said that the team will leave for Sweden to represent Africa and about 300- 500 clubs in which children take part. The Mittnorden Cup will be the first time Africa will be represented and Sierra Leone will occupy that gap.
She went further to introduce Mr. Johansen, saying if not for him, they should not have been granted visas to go to the competition, as Sierra Leone has a very bad name when it comes to going outside the country for International competition and most of the people never return back home.
She said for some months ago, Mr. Johansen was able to convince the foreign office in Sweden that he has known these boys for the past four years and these boys are his children as the team has his name.
She mentioned that they did not form this team for their own selfish interest and hope that they try their best to win the competition so that when they come back other clubs will follow suit.
She stated that the team will be going along with their legal adviser so that the boys will not be taken advantage of in Sweden and she finally thanked Vice President Sam Sumana for leaving his busy schedule to see the team.
The head coach of the team, Jonathan Rhodes, also disclosed to Awoko Sports that his boys are prepared both physically and mentally for the tournament and they are going to bring laurels home.
The competition will start on Friday August 1st and they are going to play countries like the host Sweden, Germany and a host of other countries.
He also disclosed that they are going into the competition with 16 strong players who are going to defend not only Sierra Leone but the whole of Africa.