By Dadson A. Musa

In a bid to enhance inclusivity and nurture talent across Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Athletics Association (SLAA) under the leadership of President Martin Momoh Bangura has initiated significant reforms within the organization.

Historically, athletics in Sierra Leone faced challenges stemming from internal conflicts and a perceived bias favoring athletes from the capital, Freetown. However, under President Bangura’s tenure, a notable shift towards unity and fairness has been observed.

One of the pivotal changes instigated by President Bangura is the decentralization of key athletic events. Traditionally held solely in Freetown, the prestigious Boxing Day Sport and national trials have now been extended to the province, with the city of Bo hosting the inaugural event in 2022. This move aims to scout and develop talent from diverse regions of Sierra Leone, breaking the longstanding dominance of Freetown-based teams.

President Bangura emphasized the association’s commitment to fostering development and unity through athletics. By providing financial rewards to athletes, alongside certificates and medals, the SLAA aims to incentivize participation and recognize outstanding performance across all regions. Moreover, plans to increase female representation within the executive body underscore the association’s dedication to gender equality.

Acknowledging the need for further infrastructure development, President Bangura highlighted the scarcity of suitable stadiums across the country. He called upon the government to increase support for athletics, urging a more equitable distribution of resources among sporting disciplines. Notably, the government’s financial sponsorship of the 2022 Boxing Day Sport signifies a promising step towards sustained backing for athletics.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist, particularly concerning athlete welfare and infrastructure. The SLAA is working towards securing funding for essential amenities such as standardized hostels and gyms exclusively for athletes, aiming to mitigate risks associated with inadequate facilities during national events.

Looking ahead, President Bangura emphasized the association’s commitment to nurturing talent, fostering unity, and enhancing Sierra Leone’s international athletic presence. However, sustained support from both the government and stakeholders will be crucial in realizing these aspirations and ensuring athletes can compete at the highest international level.

The SLAA’s ongoing efforts reflect a concerted push towards inclusivity, fairness, and excellence within Sierra Leone’s athletics landscape, signaling a promising trajectory for the sport’s future in the country.



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