Renowned Businessman and former football administrator in Bo town, Rodney Michael whose candidacy for the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has been endorsed is determined to introduce positive changes to the country’s soccer if voted in.
Records show that the mandate of the current President and her executive which came into being in August 2013 has expired paving the way for fresh elections for a fresh mandate.
“I will be the people’s president, the nation’s president, the best president for the Sierra Leone Football Association at this time,” Mr Michael declared.
He also promised to transform football for the better under the slogan “one game one family.” Rodney who has served as a football administrator since 1996 has made several bright promises he hopes to accomplish.
Restoring sanity, respect and integrity of SLFA are among promises he hopes to accomplish if given the leadership responsibility. Restoration of legitimacy and constitutionality at SLFA also occupies a central part of Rodney’s manifesto.
“We shall amend the statutes and remove the delegate status from organisations that should be respected for their independence…The Heroes Foundation and the Referees and Coaches Foundation will have their delegate status replaced with permanent executive positions to be determined solely by their own members,” he assured.
It is hoped that such arrangement will no longer make them vulnerable to disadvantage or compromise in exchange for votes.
The female members of the association, he went on, will be recognised for a proud place in the association. Mr Michael sees the female members as an ignored and marginalised class of people who he promised to bring into mainstream football politics.
Upon taking over governance of SLFA, he assured, female members would enjoy a permanent executive position to administer their own leagues and their development. Once in executive positions, SLFA women members would enjoy relative autonomy and appreciable funding.
“Female football for female administrators, and where possible female coaches and female match officials,” he assured.
The female leagues, he said, would be developed into regular national leagues within a football calendar rather than an ad hoc and irregular basis as is the case with current SLFA dispensation. Mr Michael also made it clear that, if voted in, every district would be encouraged and supported to have female youth teams to compete in the national leagues.
Under the scheme, special attention will be paid to districts which are not currently in the Premier league. Empowerment of regional and district football associations was also not left out in the promises. It is in the manifesto of Mr Michael to fund the associations for the development and supervision of a youth policy and the implementation of youth leagues from primary right through secondary school level.
“They will supervise all regional and district leagues and a qualified Class-C Coach will be assigned to every chiefdom to support the youth development project,” he assured.
He is firmly convinced that SLFA is neither a family inheritance nor any individual’s private property. Regional and district executive members, he went on, would be allocated quarterly subsidy for their service.
They will also be encouraged to dedicate more time and energy to their responsibilities for effectiveness and efficiency. Mr Michael also promised that football would no longer be a charitable or voluntary service, but a responsibility for all elected officials across the board noting that the same will go for all employees.
He went on to state that no longer will regions and districts be a “silent partner” in the growth and development of the game. Rather, major responsibility will be delegated to regional bodies to manage the entire development in their localities.
The management model, he proposed, would ensure a considerable power shift from the headquarters at King Tom to the regional bodies as long as it relates to the management and development of the game within their regions.
Another key promise of Mr Michael is the floating of the Premier League as a company by limited guarantee owned by Premier League clubs and the association subsidized by the FA and Government.
It will also be encouraged to enter major sponsorship deals with corporate entities. He also promised the people of Sierra Leone the independence of the Premier League Board to ensure its viability in the football world.
“The Premier League Board will be devoid of any interference from the executive except in terms of technical and administrative support they may require,” he assured.
Mr Michael also maintains that the Premier League remains a prestigious competition which must be supported to attain its ultimate status in Sierra Leone. Frequent courses for capacity building of administrators, match officials and coaches, he assured, would be pursued adding that courses would be certified by internationally recognised instructors, administrators or academic institutions where possible.
Mr Michael prudently hopes that it is only capacity building that brings efficiency in governance and management of the association. In the achievement of the objectives, he looks forward to collaborate with relevant ministries and other institutions such as the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education, National Sports Authority, the Parliamentary Sports Committee and other key partners to design initiatives and national policies that would entice corporate sponsorship, improve grassroot football and create an atmosphere conducive for all international matches.
Strong partnership, he assured, would be fostered with the media and work towards building the capacity of sports journalists, and provide as much cooperation and support to the media houses in exchange of promotion and advertisement of football activities.
“The media are a significant support for any sporting entity,” he said.
Apart from the promises, Mr Michael does not lose sight of an SLFA which for seven years has been battling with match fixing allegations, victimization of perceived opponents, absence of transparency and accountability among others.
He says at this moment, Sierra Leoneans want a free and fair electoral process, and not the one held in 2013. He hopes a credible election will cement divisions and heal wounds in the SLFA. “The malpractice of 2013 has left scars uncured, and some have shied away from the football activities in shame and regret,” he pointed out.
Sierra Leone, he says, is a nation gifted with rich raw talents blessed with a knowledgeable and passionate football public that cherishes football’s beauty.
“This is a football nation that deserves a president who understands and appreciates the high esteem to which football is held,” he concluded.