A few days after Director of Sports Saidu Mansaray ordered the Sierra Leone Association of Martial Arts (SLAMA) to divide into six separate associations, Victor Smith, the desk officer for SLAMA told Awoko sports that he never knew that some of the associations that were formed were already in existence – like the Wrestling, Kickboxing and Fencing association.
The Fencing Association was reportedly formed in 2001 without the knowledge of the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
In 2003, 32 Sierra Leoneans went to Guinea to obtain visas to represent the country in Malaysia in a fencing competition. Of the 32 who successfully obtained visas, 25 of them went to Malaysia and never returned.
In other recent activity by the Sierra Leone Fencing Association, 10 Sierra Leoneans represented Sierra Leone in the 16th international RANA fencing tournament that was held in Amsterdam in November of 2007.
Smith, however, was not aware of the existence of the Fencing Association, much less its recent activity.
When asked about the already existent Wrestling Association, which Saidu Mansaray himself reactivated with an official letter to the association, Smith said he was “shocked” to have not known all these things as a desk officer of SLAMA. “All these are associations under SLAMA, but I am not aware that they have executives,” he said.
When Senior Director of Sports Victor Hasting-Spaine refused to chair the programme to split SLAMA into six separate associations, Smith said, as desk officer for SLAMA, he had no alternative but to chair the meeting.
Hasting-Spaine said while he was supposed to chair the congress he also felt the need to guard them and he said he advised the delegation that there is no way to spilt SLAMA into different association when these association do not have any constitutionality that is binding to go to congress.
Hasting-Spaine added that the congress refused his suggestion for an interim executive and after 14 days they could have constitutions that would bind the associations to go to elections properly.
When he observed one delegate casting more than two votes and others bringing additional people on board to vote, Hasting-Spaine abruptly quit, saying the situation was “not good.”
He said the election had no legal backing. With his name and family on the line, Hasting-Spaine said he “has to do the right thing to develop sports in this country.”
“If these kinds of developments continue,” he said, “sports will never develop in the country.”