Mr Bah of the Sierra Leone Football Association

Sierra Leone Football Association - Freetown

After visiting Conforti on Friday we meet with our new friend Mr Edward Billy Parkinson, a Sierra Leonean employee of the British Council and also a fully qualified FIFA referee.

Billy’s has arranged a meeting for Jon and I with the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Football Association, one Mr Alimu Bah, so we head out to the Kingtom area of town to the SLFA headquarters and training academy.

SLFA and Training Academy

Mr Bah is a young (by UK standards), intelligent, charismatic and clearly well-travelled man with lively eyes and a ready smile.

What we’re there to do is to try to help the Hull-based Freetown Society establish an annual Wilberforce Cup Youth Football Tournament, and also to see whether we can begin to build links between Hull City FC and the SLFA.

Gates to the SLFA

Mr Bah is full of enthusiasm. He speaks of the difficulties the SLFA have faced developing infrastructure in the wake of the war, and he seems genuinely keen to attract partners who might be able to help develop football in Sierra Leone and who might, in turn, be able to tap some of the country’s talent.

The National team, the Leone Stars, are visiting the UK in May, so we’re going to try to see if they can play in Hull. And we’re aiming for the youth football tournament to take place in October.

There’ll be much more work to do here, and it will be interesting to see how things develop.

Alimu generously gives us three of the rare shirts worn by the Leone Stars – one for me (though I think I’ll have to give it to my son), one for Jon and one for Adam Pearson, the chairman of Hull City.

Sierra Leone Stars shirts

Next stop Prince of Wales School, where our young friend Adams Philip Duwai is being elected as chairman of the school’s debating society.