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Letter from the President

Dear Precious Readers, First, let me inform you of a minor reshuffle here at African Sports Monthly. We envisage a bigger picture that will be beneficial to you all our avid readers and followers. As such, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of our parent company; African Sports Media Network, Mr. Leslie Koroma, who used to double as President of this magazine, has relinquished the latter position, in order to allow him to concentrate on his vision of taking the company to a new height. I stepped up to his role, relinquishing my former position of Europe Bureau Chief, which is now occupied by Mr. Thomas Meinders of Europe. We are still blessed though, with the verve and brilliance of Mr. Kingsley Kobo, our Editor-In-Chief.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 2010 has rolled on, ushering 2011, which promises to be a year of thrilling sporting activities across the globe. Though the IAAF has an impregnated calendar, some major events catch the eyes. One of these is the World Athletics Championships. From the 27 August to 4 September, Daegu, South Korea will play host to the World of Athletics. Daegu are no strangers to hosting games of this magnitude. They successfully co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, a worrying development is a clash of the closing ceremony of this event and the start of the All Africa Games in Maputo (September 3-18). How could Athletics chiefs allow this to happen? Don’t they collaborate? Will the All African Games not suffer as athletes will be too tired to attend, and spectators’ resources depleted? These and more questions we shall probe and provide you with answers, just as we will be there to give you comprehensive reports, as and when the events happen. Until such a time, I say Good Day and Happy New Year. Delve into the February edition, brought to you by ASM.

Truly yours, Saidu Kaye Sesay

President, African Sports Monthly 3


Editors Note

On behalf of the African Sport Monthly team, I would like to send our sincere wishes of the New Year to our readers and partners, for believing and abiding in us during the past year. We hope in 2011, our wildest dreams and farthest wishes will come true, as we uphold the tradition of diligence and strong faith.

We have prepared a whole package of enticing innovations for ASM in this New Year. We want to make it a duty of bringing across to you warm and exhilarating surprises in every issue.

Besides sports articles, we would be introducing health, diet and fitness columns and lots of varieties that every lover of sporting activities would find invaluable to a balance mental and physical wellbeing.

We’re glad to inform you that we now have dozens of dedicated correspondents across the globes that are resident in their coverage zones, bringing serious local items to the global stage from all disciplines of sports that Africans and African-related sportspeople partake in.

In this issue, we look at the NFL and the African Community in the USA. Why is this, though physical but exciting sport, is still not charming to Africans – American-born, immigrants and back-home Africans.

Our Detriot, USA correspondent, Hadiatu Dumbuya profiles three heartening and inspiring NFL players of African descent - Tony Ugoh of Detroit Lions, Ovie Mughelli of Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams’ Oshiomogho Atogwe.

Our North Carolina correspondent Ephraim O. King writes admonishing guidelines on how working and playing with kid reveals and refines young peoples’ skills.

Does Argentine international and Barcelona wonder kid Lionel Messi merit the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or award? See the analysis of our Europe Bureau Chief Saidu Kaye Sesay.

Some of the best dressed stars in Europe are African footballers. Ali Bittar presents some of the high-profile fashion lovers in African football. 4


Sierra Leone national team coach Christian Cole sat down with our Africa Bureau Chief Sahr Morris Jr to narrate some of his souvenirs and ambitions for the Leone Stars, with the 2012 African Cup of Nations looming.

AC Milan rising star Rodney Strasser talks about dreaming and playing football and his projects for the underprivileged in Sierra Leone.

And just many more inside for your delight.

Don’t forget to send us comments as usual, happy reading and God bless.

Kingsley Kobo Editor in Chief

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Modernizing the Supreme council for Sports In Africa

P. 8

Rodney Strasser Guns for Glory

P. 12

Rising Star of the Month

P. 18

Working with Kids at Play

P. 20

ASM Beauty of the Month

P. 24-25

Philanthropic side of Didier Drogba

P. 26

Mohammed Kallon hints at MLS switch

P. 28

FIFA’s Anti Corruption Crusade and African Football

P. 30

Lionel Messi Unifies award

P. 32

Siasia hoping to fly with the Eagles

P. 34

The relationship between Sports and Development

P. 39

Team Profile: Terenga Lions of Senegal

P. 41

Wives and Girlfriends of African Sports Stars

P. 48

NBA Roundup

P. 52

Best Dressed African Sports Stars

P. 64

The NFL and the African Community

P. 66

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Saidu Kaye Sesay President African Sports Monthly London/UK

Muctaru Wurie Deputy Editor in Chief (ASM) Freetown/Sierra Leone

Isatu Gbla Correspondent Freetown/Sierra Leone

Kingsley Kobo Editor in Chief (ASM) Cote D’Ivoire

Nanama Keita Correspondent Banjul/Gambia

Thomas Meinders Chief of Bureau Europe Germany

Sahr Morris Jr. Chief of Bureau Africa Freetown/Sierra Leone

Aminata Mariko Correspondent Bamako/Mali

Alie Bittar Correspondent UK

Ayodele Odumade Correspondent London UK

Adeyinka Adedipe Correspondent Lagos /Nigeria

Daniel Rogers Correspondent London/UK

Ephraim O King North Carolina USA

Leslie Koroma Chairman/CEO (ASMN) Texas/USA

Anthony K Kamara Jr. Communications Director (ASMN) Philadelphia USA

Hadiatu Dumbuya Marketing & Advertising Director (ASMN) Detroit/USA 7

Gibril Samura Senior Adviser (ASMN) UK


By Saidu Kaye Sesay

former gain over the latter?

A

Radical overhauling The weather in Daegu in the months of August and dark shadow hangs over the hosting of

September will be peaking at about 31oC. How could

the All African Games in Maputo

one expect athletes to have competed under such a

(September 3-18). It is all the more worrying when

temperature and then head to Africa to compete in yet

one considers that the Games will commence a day

another temperature that will be in excess of thirty

before the close of the World Athletics Champion-

degrees? Besides, who will want to embark on such a

ships in Daegu, South Korea (August 27Th- Sep-

long journey?

tember 4). Added to these, remember that the In our last edition, we did an exclusive with Maputo officials, during which we raised concern as to whether the Games will be able to attract big name stars. Mr. Penalva Cezar revealed they

“Will the bureaucracies of African political institutions let the SCSA thrive? :

modern day athletes have their Diamond Leagues and other high profile meets to look forward to. The outcome here will become obvious; that is, the big fish (IAAF) eating the small fish - the Supreme

were working with National Olympic

Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA). This

Committees and other Federations to

is all the reason why the SCSA needs some radical overhauling with the aim to make it a

make sure that the stars were paraded. Well, in the

modern games, it does not work like that. Established contemporary organisation. athletes know where their breads are buttered.

Façade Anytime of the day, their sponsors will direct them to

Since it was founded in July 1965, its mandate as a

compete at the World Athletics Championships before

specialised agency of the Organisation of African

giving thought to the All African Games. The

Unity (now African Union), has seen little or no

commercial interests here reign supreme over

transformation. At times, one wonders if they do exist

national and Pan-African pride.

at all. Tell me, in these days of technological ad-

But let’s face it. How many people will tune in to the

vancement and internet era, SCSA has no website of All African Games as compared to the World Athletics its own? Will the bureaucracies of African political inChampionships? How many broadcast rights will the stitutions let the SCSA thrive? 8


For the SCSA to be vibrant and competitive it’s high time it stepped out of the shadows of the AU. Dissolving and restyling it as “Architecture for African Sport” as is being suggested, is a mere façade that can only result to a cosmetic exercise. What the SCSA needs is its independence and dynamism that will put it on a par with other competitors in the business.

Callousness My take on the SCSA does not in anyway exonerate the callousness being shown by the IAAF. As an umbrella organisation for athletes, it is the IAAF moral obligation to pencil events like the All African Games into their calendar so that it does not collide with other attractive events. The Senegalese-born IAAF President Lamine Diack, who had a stewardship at SCSA, ought to know it better.

All is not lost however, the redeeming side of this mix up is the chance it will offer to emerging African athletes who will step into the stead of their more renowned compatriots who might not make the Maputo trip for some of the aforementioned reasons.

African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa

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By Muctaru Wurie Life is truly an interesting journey for Rodney Strasser. The young football star was only a few years back dreaming of playing professional football; now he is not only playing it but more importantly for the young Sierra Leonean international, he is playing it alongside the stars he once loved and watched from video centres in Fourah Bay, Freetown. The year 2011 seems to be the beginning of a perfect start for the 20 year old star. He has not only been crowned best sportsman of the year by All Works of Life (AWOL), Sierra Leone’s most prestigious award, he also launched his own charity called Supporting Under-Privileged through Care and Hope (SUCH). And most importantly, he got his first Serie A goal for his team AC Milan and a first team start. All in two weeks! This is surely a good time for Rodney Strasser and he seems to be enjoying every bit of it. His recent progress has led many to conclude that he is heading for the glory that Mohamed Kallon once had. African Sport Magazine’s Muctaru Wurie had this exclusive interview with the rising star.

African Sports Magazine (ASM): How has your journey been from your Krojimmy community in Freetown to Milan in Italy? 12


Rodney Strasser (RS): It has been wonderful. I was not surprised to be told I had been spotted by AC Milan, because I had that deep sense of belief and determination. I tried to convince myself that I will give it a go and leave the rest to God for his guidance. Frankly, it has not been easy. Settling in Milan was tough, because, I had no family and the food, neighbourhood and culture was all too strange from what I used to have at Krojimmy in Freetown. But thank God today I can look back and lift my hands up saying although I have a long way to go I have at least come this far. ASM: What were your hopes growing up and playing football all the time? RS: When I was growing up as a young kid, everyone told me that I am a gifted footballer. But it has not been easy because I had to put up with intensive and regular trainings in what I now deem as difficult circumstances. Like I said, I was not surprised when AC Milan picked me up after the Viareggio Tournament I took part in with FC Kallon; I was rather thinking how I was going to face that huge challenge of playing for a team the size of Milan.

ASM: You use to have many friends and fans in Sierra Leone, do you still have time for them? RS: Look my brother; I will never forget where I came from, no matter where I go or what success I have. Although I am far away in Italy I call my parents almost everyday because they are the driving force of my life and I cannot even attempt to cut that root off because of what I am today. The same with my childhood friends, I am in touch with them and we still share those fun moments and jokes. 13


ASM: You recently launched your foundation to help the underprivileged in Sierra Leone, can you tell us more about that? RS: I have a belief that I should always give back to my community because I owe them more than I can ever afford. I actually launched the charity at the Obama Complex in Freetown and donated food and clothing to the Underprivileged at SOS Village in Lumley, the Amputee and the Polio Society. I want to help more and I promise I am definitely going to try my best and help my country. ASM: How are you going to fund your charity? RS: Seventy percent of the money for the Foundation will come from my pocket while the rest will come from my team mates at AC Milan and friends. The Foundation is not only for children but also for the underprivileged, like the Polio, disabled and Amputees. Apart from the foundation, I also had the chance to meet with His Excellency the President, Ernest Bai Koroma, and offered him a special A C Milan jersey with the name of President Koroma written on it and signed by most of the players of my club; AC Milan.

ASM: Now, it has been very positive for you off late on the pitch with you having your first Serie A goal and first team start. Are you enjoying it? 14


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RS: I am enjoying it, but at the same time I know the challenges ahead are tough. I hope more goals and first team appearances will come. I was overexcited and hope that this will be the start of amore opportunities and positive shows. This is what every player wants, to be playing and taking part in matches and scoring goals. Thank God I got that goal and I will continue to work hard to convince the coach that I deserve a place in his starting line up. ASM: Do you have hopes of playing for your favourite club, Manchester United or elsewhere. RS: All my hopes now are geared towards putting my best efforts on the pitch and helping my team win. I will not speculate on my future because all I want is to excel in Milan and help to make this great club bigger and successful. I am grateful to AC Milan for offering me this wonderful opportunity and all I want is to do my best to repay them. ASM: What are your hopes for Sierra Leone football and Leone Stars? RS: I will say positive. But we have to face the certainty and try to do our best in improving the conditions in which the game is played. I just have the feeling that if only the authorities in football create the enabling environment, we will have many good products. As for Leone Stars, we are doing our best, and speaking for myself I will always be proud to fly the flag of Sierra Leone and I hope we qualify for the next African Nations Cup. ASM: What is your last word? RS: I am happy Sierra Leonean’s love football and everywhere I go in the country people show that love and respect to me. But I will advise them to support local football in many ways. They should start paying monies to watch their local leagues and community galas. Those who have money should invest in the game. Thanks to Mohamed Kallon who used some of his wealth and invested in many young people including me. Today many of us are playing in Europe’s professional leagues and that is a plus for the country. So my last word will be a plea to Sierra Leonean’s for them to show support to local football. 16


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By Thomas Meinders He was a young man, arriving from Sierra Leone at Milan. Wondering about the big city, that differs so much from the areas he had known before. Frantic and vigorous the people - that was the thing, he had known before. But still: it was a culture shock for Rodney Strasser, when he arrived at Malpensa Airport in Milan in 2007. Aged 17 Strasser started his "Adventure Europe", hoping to make it at Milan or at least somewhere else in Europe like many young players from Africa before. And it became a difficult journey. Strasser found his place in Milan's Primavera, the youth team of AC Milan and convinced his coaches with good performances. But although Milan has many players from foreign countries in his youth academy, it is nearly impossible to directly find the way to the first team. Strasser - nevertheless - was nearby, smelled the air of the first team squad and made his first appearance in Serie A in December 2008 as a substite against Udinese Calcio. The nine minutes of play remained the only for the 2008/09 season, followed by seven minutes 2009/10. In the summer of 2010 Milan's rival CFC Genua purchased half of the transfer rights on Strasser with a murky deal involving the transfer of Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but the still young Leonean stayed at Milan. He worked hard for the breakthrough. And his moment arrived. 18


In December, two years after his first appearance in Milan's jersey, he made his season's debut as a substitute against Bologna. Contrary to his appearances before, he played more than half an our. And he made a good job, so coach Massimiliano Allegri recollected Strasser, when he brought him as a substitute again against Cagliari Calcio at January, 6th of this year. The young Leonean international made the goal of the play, scoring the 1:0-lead five minutes before the end. The next match against Udinese Calcio was his first at the starting eleven, playing 90 minutes. It is too early to definitely state, that Strasser had made his breakthrough. But now he has more than a foot in the door and is on a very good way to gain his aim.

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By Ephraim O. King, NC, USA

The most exciting thing about working with children is that they love to play, and play has an unmatched and magnetic ability to reach and teach children. Children learn as they play and while playing they learn how to learn. Well-designed play and game activities put young children on a path to healthy mental, physical, emotional and social development.

Personally, working with children has given me the opportunity to motivate and inspire young people through the power of play and sports, to live a healthy and fulfilling life. It is very challenging to get children to work cooperatively with their peers because of competitive mistrust.

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On the other hand, this can be overcome in strong team situations which will help children learn to rely on one another and learn to be relied on. Adults become trusted figures when they give praise and helpful advice.

Some Basic Rules Before Play

1) Ensure that play area is physically and emotionally safe for children. 2) Plan games and activities that fit the ages of the children. 3) Games selected must give boys, girls and children with disability equal opportunity to participate.

At Play

1) Speak with children in a respectful way. 2) Keep the children active. 3) Adopt games and activities to meet specific developmental needs of children (mental, physical, emotional and social development). 4) Establish a “freeze� signal such as a whistle, raising your arm in the air, and so on. When you give that signal, children must stop, look at you and listen. 5) Focus on the positive. Always be alert to catch children doing something right and praise them for it. 6) Be strict in the beginning, and then less so as the children learn to work together effectively. 7) Get to know the children well. Learn their names and use them.

Setting Rules at Play

1) Set the rules right at the beginning. 2) Explain why there must be rules. Where possible, have the children take part in setting the rules. 3) Make the rules clear. Be sure the children understand what is expected of them. 4) Apply the rules fairly and evenly to every child.

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After Play 1) Lead discussions with children on central ideas in game sessions using the question and answer technique. 2) Facilitate the opportunity for children to learn important values and life skills including self confidence, teamwork, communication, inclusion, discipline, respect and fair play among after game and activity sessions. Applying these simples rules while paying with children will surely bring about a healthy development of which many parents will be proud of.

By Leslie Koroma

Recently I covered an indoor Track and Field meet in Texas at College station home of Texas A&M University. I did so especially to see the improvements that the African student athletes had made from last year and it was a trip well worth it, as two of these students of African heritage in Gerald Phiri of Zambia and Jeneba Tarmoh an American but whose parents are from Sierra Leone came through with incredible results. After the meet I was able to get to talk to both Gerald and Jeneba and here is my interview first with Gerald (Jeneba’s interview is further in the Magazine) Gerald is originally from Zambia but migrated via South Africa to England where he was raised in Sheffield. Gerald is currently in Texas studying at Texas A & M University and he is a student athlete and a sprinter and one of the top notch sprinters from Africa. In fact in as far as times goes for the past few years he is considered to have the fastest times in Africa and one of the top sprinters in the world. He made the finals in Berlin 2009 World Championship 100meters; he was in the final 8 in the 100m, competing against the likes of Usain Bolt at the time when bolt broke the 100 meters world record again after Beijing 2008. Gerald has been steadily improving; and I spoke to him recently. I witnessed an indoor track meet where he competed in the 60 meters and 200 meters dash 22


and posted some of the fastest times in the world at 20.80s in the 200meter indoor dash this early in the season. ASM: Gerald how are you? Gerald: I’m good thank you how are you? ASM: Nice to catch up with you again, we did an interview earlier with you last year to introduce you to the African continent and people through our publication African Sports Monthly Magazine and our website Africansportstv.com. I am here talking to you after your track meet in A &M. How do you feel about the times you have run so far this year? Gerald: The season is going well, the 200m is going very well in my first season I ran under 21seconds and since I have been at Texas A & M the last four years I have run 21.00 and here I am in my senior year ranked number 1 in the world early in the season and I am very happy with that. I am doing some very hard training right now so I know the times will get faster, I am excited to see how fast I can go. ASM: I understand the indoor track finals for the NCAA are in March, what are your prospects and what do you see yourself doing in that meet? Gerald: The aim is to go out and win the NCAA Championships; I have been working very hard this year, early on in the season I have proven that I am someone to reckon with and there’s a lot at stake. You come in here your freshman year and set goals of winning the NCAA title. And so far within the last three years I have come up short in these individual titles, Right now there is no time 23


for next year, so I keep reminding myself this is it right here, so if I don’t win it at the NCAA everything that I have come to achieve I have failed. I’m really working hard so that I don’t look back and regret what I have done with my college career. ASM: Pretty good attitude; you are tough on yourself as far as setting goals and barriers for yourself in terms of what you would like to achieve. The indoor season is coming up and I spoke with you in the last interview about what’s coming up this year, this year is already here you have had two major meets for you; and those are the World Championships in South Korea in August and the All Africans Game in Mozambique in September, followed directly by the Olympic Games in London 2012. With this being your final year do you see yourself turning professional? Gerald: No doubt about that I wouldn’t want to break my courage, I have been blessed with a great gift you know I’m one of the fastest men in the world, so it makes sense for me to turn professional. I’m trying to work hard this season so that I can get a contract. Track is not like football/soccer where there are millions of dollars readily available. You have to set yourself apart from everyone else to make a lot of money. That’s part of the reason why I came to A&M Track. Over here at A&M we have some of the best talents in the world, a lot of Olympic champions with records come through the NCAA system, and the shoe companies the sponsors look at the NCAA to find the next great athlete. At the end of this season I would like to separate myself from everyone else, if you can separate yourself from these guys you are doing something extraordinary and that might mean sponsorship. My goal for this season is to set myself apart wherein a shoe company might take a look at me and say this kid is someone to watch and hopefully they can invest a lot in me. ASM: There are some competitions coming up and what do you think about your prospects for the World Championships and The All African Games? What are your goals for these competitions? Gerald: My main goal would be to break the college record in the NCAA Championships; with South Korea and the All African Games especially with them being so close to each other because I think the World Championships are from the third of September to the 18th I would have to decide which rounds to run in and then turn around and run in the All African Games I’m not sure. ASM: Actually it’s flipped around Gerald, I think the World Championships is in August and right after that is the All African Games. You know you are not the only one that noticed that time clash between the All African games and the World Athletics Championships and that’s something we here at ASM are addressing so that we can get to convince them not to position the meets so close 24


together in order to give the athletes time to recuperate from South Korea and able to make it to Maputo in adequate time. In the mean time this is the way it is set up. What you said about not participating would be a great loss for the African people by not having you guys participate at the All African Games, you know we are trying to promote Africa and to see that because someone did not pay attention to the international schedules is ridiculous,…………Anyhow back to your training and performance, What times are you looking at running and what level do you see yourself performing this year? Gerald: The aim is running under 10s and 20s; I would like to leave College breaking some records. I’ve come very close in recent years, but I think I have set myself up by practicing very hard this year to run under 10s consistently in order to be ranked highly for the Olympic Games and in the world Championships. ASM: You mentioned trying to secure a contract so you can continue your career after you graduate college you know it’s not easy for an athlete of your caliber to continue your training and not have to work, something that can affect your performance eventually. I’m not trying to put you on the spot but what company would you like to sign with? Gerald: Uhm I have always been a big adidas fan, but at this point in my career I cannot pick and choose, I just want someone who is going to believe in me and what my coaches say if that is Adidas or Nike it will be greatly appreciated. You never know which company will sign with you I just want them to support and believe in me and the dream I have in myself.

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ASM: Do you train with Wallace Spearmon at A & M? Gerald: Mr. Wallace trains up here with a few other professional athletes, and there are others like Muna Lee as well yes we have a good squad of post graduate athletes that train here who are furthering their ranks professionally. ASM: Are you planning to stay around College Station after you graduate to continue your training? Gerald: Yes! That’s the plan however it doesn’t always go like that, I’m planning yes to do that and then it depends on my coaches and whether or not they think they can take me there or not. I don’t run track just to be another guy in the World Finals, when I started out I dreamed to be the best, and I need coaches that can support that vision of me becoming the best in the world. ASM: You have been competing under the Zambian flag and you have not been there in years, you were raised in Sheffield, England – you have spent a number years in America what is the latest in terms of being in contact with the Zambian Sports council and are they keeping tabs on how you are performing? Gerald: Yes I email them regularly but I am not sure if they know the times I am running over here, because there are a lot of college track meets. So every time I run I always email them and let them know how I am doing with respect to the team and to make sure we are on the same page. I have to make sure I keep the line of communication open between us.

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Gerald: During the World Championships in 2009 there were several articles out there about me in and people did not know who Gerald Phiri was, so they were asking questions like who is this kid and where did he come from? But as of late I have not heard from them I try to keep up with them the best I can, but my classes take priority. ASM: We are covering you from here at African Sports Media we did an article on you and Jeneba Tarmoh on our daily sports news website AfricanSportsTV.com, so the world will know what’s going on with you guys and how you are performing and the tremendous ability y’all are performing at. You and Jeneba are both of African heritage and we are trying to do our very best to make sure you both are being promoted at the highest level. Now you are studying and at the end of your college year and you have set these high goals in the field, what are your goals in preparing to graduate with a high GPA and at the same time perform at the highest level in athletics? Gerald: It has not been easy over the years, during your freshman year you are trying to get accustomed to going to university, it is not like high school where they keep tabs on you, and it is your responsibility to make sure you are in class and where you are supposed to be. Coming here has helped me to grow up, be independent; in fact time management is very important. I’ve got a planner, with my goals on my classes of where I need to be and when I need to be there. My practice and my classes never clash we always practice at a specific time. Time management is the key it is not always easy when we start to travel, it can be hard to read your books while on a plane, at an airport or on a bus. There is never anytime just to sit and do nothing. ASM: I understand, you have recently run some of the fastest times and you are currently ranked no.1 in the world right now. You know it is not the norm in terms of the sprints for Africa to be ranked that highly, but you are putting Africa up there, can you tell the audience your times for the 200m and the 60meters? Gerald: For the 60 meters I ran 6.63s and I ran 20.80s in the 200 meters which is the fastest time in the world this year. I need to start running faster that is the plan for the year 20.80s will not stay at the top for much longer. …… I know that by the time of the NCAA Championships I will be running faster than 20.80 s. ASM: Now the 6.63s what ranking is that right now? Gerald: Number 3 in the world and number 2 in the NCAA collegiate ranking athletics. ASM: WONDEREFUL! WONDERFUL! You are on the right track and the right path, you have great things ahead of you, in which I hope you will be able to compete in the World Championships and the All African Games can look at this time table and adjust the timing of the games and allow top notch athletes to make it to Maputo and also looking forward to your performance in the Olympics 2012, Not putting any pressure on you we are rooting for you and we hope to cover you and keep on keeping track of you. We hope we will continue to talk to you as time goes on. Thank you for this interview. Gerald: I thank you sir

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By Saidu Kaye Sesay, London, UK

The whole world is crying for help. There are wars and strife, pestilence and starvation. To make matters worse, impoverished nations seem to endure the curse of heartless rulers who continue to siphon the people’s wealth to foreign banks. Donor nations are beginning to get weary of dipping their hands into their pockets to dish out largesse, while donor-driven nations continue to go cap in hand begging, with the intention to squander more. Poverty alleviation projects set up by Non Governmental Organizations and their International collaborators remain suspicious, as the people the projects are intended for benefit little or nothing from them. When such structures fail, one can only applaud stars in sports and entertainment businesses that come to rescue. 30


Big heart Drogba has answered his critics with a very big heart. Besides being on the vanguard of fighting World Poverty as UNDP’s (United Nations Development Program) Goodwill Ambassador, and many a time a protagonist in the sensitization of mankind about the existing realities of AIDS, Drogba hit another gear in November of 2009 when he donated the £3m fee he earned from a Pepsi advert to the building of a hospital in his home city of Abidjan. Other earnings from Nike and Orange France will go towards the project, not to mention numerous fund raisings organized by the star. His iconic status has only helped him to draw support from many a famous friend. Last December, he enjoyed the supports of established artists like Akon, the Saturdays and Nicole Scherzinger, when he held the second edition of his charity ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Though a big name like Bono could not appear in person, he boosted the event via a video link. Other stars from Chelsea, and Drogba’s footballer compatriots as well as other stars graced the occasion. By the end of the evening, the charity had raised £300,000.00 through auctions. Though this event was £ 200,000.00 short of the first edition, a delighted but emotional Drogba remarked, “I am so happy everybody could come. And the fight to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people is not over.”

Malaria The hospital project is sure to benefit his compatriots. Malaria in Ivory Coast, as the rest of Africa, is a prevalent epidemic, and one of the major causes of deaths. Drogba’s initiative, therefore, could not have come at a better time. As the star charted his plans to give back to the society, he became a victim of the illness late last year, causing concern among even those who loathe him. Before a Premier League game in November, Drogba complained of fever. Tests later showed that he had contracted the tropical disease. How he contracted it remained a mystery, just as how he recuperated in time for yet another crucial clash. But coming from a background where the illness is common place, one would begin to understand why.

Foundation Conscious of the plights of his less fortunate compatriots, Drogba in 2007, established the Didier Drogba Foundation (DDF), with a mission statement reading thus: “…to provide financial and mate31


rial support in both health and education to the African people”. The foundation continues to enjoy high profile donations, from sources like Pepsi.

Besides the hospital project, the Foundation plans to build schools in Abidjan and be established worldwide. It supports other projects such as the Red Cross in Abidjan, Page Blanche Institution and orphanages in Grand Bassam.

The DDF intervened in the plight of Yao, a child suffering from leukemia last, by since been evacuating him to Geneva for treatments. Drogba’s legacy will therefore help alleviate the medical and other welfare needs of his compatriots, as well as serve as a shining example for other stars to do more to help those who still lack the basic things of life in Africa and beyond.

By Muctaru Wurie

Former Inter Milan star and Sierra Leone international captain Mohamed Kallon has revealed to African Sport Monthly Magazine that he will make a final decision at the end of this month on as whether to quit or continue to play professional football. Recently, there was news that the famous Sierra Leonean star had quit football after his contract with Chinese club; Shaanxi Zhongjian Chanba came to an end last month. But in an exclusive interview with African Sports Magazine, the star said he was surprised to hear that news: “I actually do not know where that news came from because it was never in my plans to re32


sign at this juncture. Yes my contract has ended with Shaanxi Chanba but I am still a professional footballer and I intend to keep on playing professional football,” said Mohamed Kallon who is the owner of Sierra Leone premier league side FC Kallon. The 31 year old who is now in Freetown overseeing his beloved FC Kallon team in their preparation for the Viareggio Tournament in Italy on February gave an indication that he would likely be playing in the United States of America Major League Soccer, (MLS) next season. He told African Sports TV that he would love to live in America with his family: “but Shaanxi Chanba want to renew my contract. I would like to be near my daughter who is in school in the USA” he said. Kallon disclosed that his daughter, Kallma is in school in the US because there are no English speaking schools in Xian and “I am not happy about that.” Kallon also revealed that some clubs have already tried to secure his services but his decision will be based on what is best for his family. Sources close to Mohamed Kallon told African Sports Magazine that Sierra Leone’s most popular footballer will likely end his football career next year 2012.

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By Ayodele Odumade, London After the recent bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the allegations of corruption regarding some of the executive members of FIFA, they have now proposed an Anti Corruption Crusade. What does this mean to Africa? Corruption in football in Africa and sport generally is something, which is a deep-seated cancer that is symptomatic of most of the African Countries. This proposed Anti Corruption Crusade FIFA intend to launch would have to be an independent one. The fear though is that because it has been set up by FIFA president Sepp Blatter there might be a conflict of interest and he might still have some influence over what is revealed and what is not. 34


The first step in the right direction for corruption to be tackled is transparency and accountability. No one knows how much Blatter earns in a year as he has refused to disclose this. If he is not transparent, how can we expect the African Football federations to be? It has never been known for the African football Associations to disclose how much they earn and how monies received from FIFA on a yearly basis is distributed.

The Nigerian Football Federation recently had a change of personnel and some former members were charged with corruption and asked to explain how they spent money whilst they were in charge of football in the country. Although we cannot jump to a conclusion as to whether such people are guilty as the investigation is still ongoing, it does seem odd that one of them has been put in charge of football in another state in Nigeria (Taiwo Ogunjobi in Osun State). The prudent thing should have been that he be suspended from all football activities in Nigeria pending the outcome of the investigation. This is one of the problems, which we continually face in Africa.

Although this corruption crusade, in the light of some FIFA members being exposed would make the football authorities in Africa to sit up, it is going to be very difficult to change a habit of a lifetime because accountability simply is not something they have been used to in Africa. However it is hoped that the media scrutiny will help football change its habits, which will help to improve all facets of administration in African football. It is not going to be an easy task though. Projects whereby FIFA provide money for grass root football in Africa should be filtered down to the right channel to help African football to develop. For African football to progress it appears that transparency is the key!

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By Saidu Kaye Sesay, London, UK Argentina international and Barcelona wonder kid Lionel Messi has become the first player to win the newly merged FIFA and Ballon d’Or award for best player. Ballon d’Or, the French name for Golden Ball was formerly awarded by France Football, a bi-weekly magazine to the European Footballer of the Year, while FIFA used to award the FIFA World Player of the Year. In July 2010, both institutions signed an agreement in Johannesburg, South Africa, to merge the awards, with the new name FIFA Ballon d’Or. The aim of the award will be to reward the player considered to be a driving force for their teams towards winning trophies. Coaches and captains of international sides as well as journalists vote for the winners. The inaugural award held in Zürich Kongresshaus on January 10, saw the 23-year-old Messi emerging as winner, besting his Barca teammates Iniesta and Xavi to second and third places respectively.

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In his victory speech, Messi told FIFA.Com, “I’m happy, but I didn’t expect it because everyone had been talking so much about Xavi and Andrés [Iniesta]. They also deserved it for the wonderful year they had. They won the World Cup, which usually goes a long way to deciding, who wins this award, and they both had big parts to play in that. That’s why I thought one of them would be going up to collect the trophy. It was a wonderful surprise." Indeed, not only Messi feared the worse, most pundits were of the opinion that his poor showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup should have negated his second clinching of the accolade. While the dainty Argentine may have run away with the gong, many critics keep questioning whether FIFA ever took into account the contributions of Iniesta and Xavi to Spain’s success at the 2010 World Cup. Or whether the awards are often given to please certain sponsors? Or also, whether players have to play only in Europe to be shortlisted? The questions abound.

Brazil’s Marta who plies her trade in the US, where she continues to thrill fans, emerged as a worthy winner of the women’s category, for the first time under its new name, but fifth time overall. For the first time, an award was given named FIFA World Coach of the Year both in the male and female category. In the men’s category, Real Madrid’s coach José Mourinho, who won the UEFA Champions League last year with Inter Milan, emerged winner surprisingly ahead of Spain’s Vicente del Bosque, while Silvia Neid of Germany won the female category.

Other lucky winners of the night included, Hamit Altintop for the “most beautiful goal”, Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his outstanding commitment to youth development world wide and his use of football as a catalyst for positive social change. He was also hailed for the support he gave to the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Fair Play award went to Haiti’s female football team.

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By Adeyinka Adedipe

The rating of Nigeria’s Super Eagles continues to plummet due to poor performance and the dearth of young talents, throwing doubt on the team’s possible qualification for the 2012 African Cup of Nations to be jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Gone are the days of Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Mike Emenalo, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini, Samson Siasia and many others who put the name of Nigeria on the world map with their scintillating skills.

Some have argued that Nigeria still boast of talented players but Coach Samson Siasia this current set of national team players have failed when they were expected to rise to the occasion with Nigeria disastrous outing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa - a pointer to this fact.

In South Africa, the Eagles failed to win a game and even when they had the opportunity to qualify after two defeats, by beating South Korea, they fumbled to a 2-2 draw against the Asians.

Typical of Nigerians who are great optimist, the Eagles swept the 2010 World Cup debacle under the carpet to embark on a fresh beginning with the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers. With the exit of Lars Lagaback, former international Augustine Eguavoen, who led the Super Eagles to a 2-0 win over Madagascar in Calabar (southern Nigeria), lost stunningly to Guinea 1-0 in Conakry.

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Jon Mikel Obi After much hesitation, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) bowed to pressure and appointed exEagles striker Samson Siasia, who was a member of the golden generation of the national team that won the 1994 Nations Cup in Tunisia. His immediate objective is to qualifier the country for the next Nations Cup and also scout for young, energetic and dedicated players who will be around for a long time.

In qualifying the country for the Nations Cup, he will also have to bring back the free-flowing style of the play which Nigerians enjoy to see – a pattern of play that has endeared the team to millions all over the world.

After his unveiling, Siasia, with his pal and deputy, Simon Kalika, quickly embarked on a tour of Europe to meet the current players and also talk to new ones that he hoped to bring on board. Freescoring Emmanuel Emenike, who plies his trade in Turkey for KarabĂźkspor has already confirmed his readiness to be part of the Eagles while Newcastle Shola Amobi, who has never played for Nigeria, and 19 year old Victor Moses, who plays for Wigan Athletics in England is looking forward to his debut with the Eagles.

The new coach has been around for a while, leading the Flying Eagles (the junior team) to the African title in 2005 in Cotonou, Benin Republic and a second place finish at the World Youth 39


Championship in Holland the same year. He was also at the helm at the 2008 Olympic Games when Nigeria won silver, losing to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina side.

The fact that the Nigerian team needs its best leg to prosecute any game is not lost on the new coach and he has begun the rebuilding process with the players from the home league, who would join few foreign-based players for the February 9 exhibition game against Guatemala.

Nigerian fans at home and abroad nothing playing the Central erwise. He says: “We are in team for the Nations Cup the games we can get to can hold its own and that is why I am of my best legs for Guatemala.”

Since taking over worked with the and to underline his turned back players camp. “We need to be to build a strong team. that if players stroll into deadlines,” he added.

feel that the team will benefit little or Americans but Siasia thinks oththe process of building a new qualifiers, so we need all build a solid team that against any opposition hoping to have some the friendly against

the team, Siasia has home-based players seriousness, he has who reported late to very serious if we have It is not possible to do camp without observing Victor Moses

To buttress the importance of the Nations Cup qualifying face-off against Ethiopia , Kalika is of the belief that the Guatemala friendly will enable the team prepare well for the encounter noting that the February 9 friendly would not be taken as a do or die but an avenue to test the newly invited players.

“Guatemala is a tough side contrary to what most people think. They have good record in FIFA schedule and playing them would be better than not playing at all. The FA have worked very hard to secure the friendly because other countries are already engaged,” the Dutchman stated. “Both the old and the new players will come together and we would be able to use the match to prepare our team for the Ethiopia game, which comes up in March. So we need to see the players play to see how they can fit in,” he added. 40


Against Guatamala, players like Obinna Nsofor (West Ham United of England) Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Vincent Enyeama (Hopoel Tel Aviv) and other players who were at the World Cup and others who lost out, would have the opportunity of showing the new coaching crew what they have to offer.

The steps taken by Siasia have already received commendation from various quarters. Former Super Eagles players, Friday Ekpo, while urging the national team players to show commitment towards the qualifiers, commended Siasia for starting the rebuilding process from home.

Shola Ameobi He noted: “I must say that Samson Siasia has started well by beginning the rebuilding with the home based players because that is what we have been clamouring for. Charity begins at home and a good example of it is what Siasia has displayed.

“There is need to give home-based players the opportunity to grow and develop to the level of their foreign-based counterparts. We cannot be relying on foreign-based stars all the time. We need to develop players in the domestic league. It is now left for the home-based players to prove that they can contribute positively to the national team.”

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Emmanuel Emenike

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The NFF has also realised that building a strong national team does not lie solely in the hands of the coaches but also relies on government. The Alhaji Aminu Maigari-led NFF board was able to get Guatemala friendly at short notice and have also provided the enabling environment for the coaching crew while a good working relationship with the FA coupled with good result might help him see out his four year contract.

Unlike in the past when the FA picked all the assistants for the national coaches, Siasia was given the opportunity to bring in his long-time assistant, Kalika. He has also been given two other Nigerians, former National team goalkeeper, Ike Shorunmu and Kano Pillars coach Yusuf Salihu.

Besides the FA backings, senior players in the team, newcomers and the Olympics squad have vowed to be part of the team whenever they are called upon.

However, Siasia has a big task in front of him and that is to put together a team worthy of becoming African champions, qualifying and doing well at the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014. 42


By Ephraim O. King, NC, USA

What is Sport for Development and Peace? Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) refers to the intentional use of sport, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives, including, most notably, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Sport for this purpose includes all forms of physical activities that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction; such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sports, and indigenous sports and games.

Successful SDP programs work to enforce the right of all members of any society to participate in sport and leisure activities. Effective programs intentionally give priority to development objectives and are carefully designed to be inclusive. These programs embody the best values of sports while upholding the quality and integrity of the sport experience. Dynamic SDP programs combine sports and non-sport components to enhance their effectiveness.

They are delivered in an integrated manner with other local, regional and national development and peace initiatives to make them mutually reinforcing. These programs seek to empower participants and communities by engaging them in the design and delivery of activities, building local capacity, adhering to generally accepted principles of transparency and accountability, and pursuing sustainability through collaboration, partnerships and coordinated action.

Development and Peace

The concept of Sport for Development and Peace is rooted in the recognition that sport possesses unique attributes that enable it to contribute to development and peace processes. Sport’s universal popularity, its capacity as one of the most powerful global communications platforms, and its 43


profound ability to connect people and to build their capacities make it one of the most cross-cutting of all development and peace tools. These attributes also make sport an effective, low-cost means of preventing and addressing a broad range of social and economic challenges.

Sport can also be used as an important means of advancing human rights. The explicit mention of sport, play and physical activities in many international human rights instruments underscores the centrality of these activities to human health, development and well-being, and establishes a strong and compelling foundation for Sport for Development and Peace.

Sport represents a significant, yet largely untapped potential for enhancing and accelerating development and peace efforts in Africa and worldwide, particularly those related to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

While sport alone will not enable the world to achieve the MDGs, its attributes may provide a valuable component of broader and holistic approaches to addressing each of the millennium challenges. The potential contribution sport can make, combined with the fundamental urgency underlying the MDG targets, complements the SDP proponents in an effort to engage and mobilize governments in developing nations to include the SDP in their national development frameworks and strategies, and to encourage governments in donor nations to integrate sport into their international assistance strategies.

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Senegalese player celebrate their famous win over France at the 2002 World

By Nanama Keita The Senegal national team has been among the powerhouses of African football for over a decade. After they caused the biggest upset at the 2002 Fifa World Cup by beating then defending champions France in the tournament’s opener, the Lions of Teranga crumbled. Their failure to reach both the 2010 World and the African Nations Cup finals of same year caused their FIFA ranking to drop to 89 from an earlier 23. At the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, Senegal, managed by French-born coach Bruno Metsu, went all the way to the quarter-finals, a feat only achieved by Cameroon and most recently Ghana. In the group, after defeating France, the Lions drew with Denmark and Uruguay, and beat Sweden in extra time in second round, before losing to Turkey in the quarter finals. The famous win was rated the greatest upset in world football.

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That, however, was the first and last time that Senegal have played in the finals of the world’s most prestigious football competition as they failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 editions in Germany and South Africa respectively. Of the squad that did duty in the 2002 finals, the likes of El Hadji Diouf, Papa Bouba Diop (goal scorer against France), Amdy Faye, Habib Beye, Henri Camara (Senegal’s most capped and highest goal-scorer to date) and Salif Diou went on to become household names and earned moves to the English Premiership. Senegal have had relative success in the African Cup of Nations, having participated 11 times. Their best finish was in 2002, when they lost on penalties to Cameroon in the final. They also finished fourth in 1965, 1990 and 2006. Despite being under-achievers in the Nations Cup, Senegal can boast of winning the Amilcar Cabral Cup - a regional soccer tournament for West African nations - eight times, more than any other country.

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El-Hadji Diouf is one of the most celebrated and controversial Senegalese players After a prolonged period of decline however, it appears that Senegal may be about to re-establish themselves as a powerhouse in international football. With the class of the 2002 only now starting to be replaced, qualification for the 2012 African Nations Cup and the 2014 World Cup would be the major ambition for indigenous coach Amara Traore and his new crop of players, all of whom ply their trades in major leagues in Europe. The Lions are currently in a pole position for a place in the Gabon-Equatorial finals after two convincing wins put them in the driving seat in Group E that also includes Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, DR Congo and Mauritius.

A 4-2 opening win against DR Congo in Lumbubashi, which was followed by a 7-0 thumping of Mauritius in Dakar has seen the Teranga Lions climb to the summit of Group E with six points – two points ahead of closest contenders Cameroon.

Fenerbahçe star Mamadou Niang 47


By Daniel Rogers in London

Olivia Song

Olivia Song is wife of Cameroonian and Arsenal midfield maestro Alex Song. The pair were childhood sweethearts from France. They have two sons Nolan 3 and Kaylian 2. “I have my sons, I have my wife, I have a good life, I play football, I love my job. If I had my dad with me to enjoy the life with me (sic), it would be perfect” Song said in an interview with UK’s Telegraph newspaper. Olivia Song

Yvonne Ayigbenni The WAG is daughter of former Nigerian international Kadiri Ikhanna. The stunning Yvonne now has a daughter Kayla (2) and hopefully more on the way. However, Yakubu whose form has slightly dipped is now on loan to Leicester City.

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Yvonne and Yakubu on their wedding day


Najah Wakil

Najah Wakil is a supermodel and WAG of Chelsea ace Salamon Kalou. She is an American of SomalianPuerto Rican descent, residing in Philadelphia . She has been described as having "a sparkling personality, incredibly motivated, and beautiful.” She made headlines in the British press last year when she hosted a surprise birthday bash for Salomon’s 24th that saw a host of his Chelsea team mates turning up. Bar bill? A cool $200,000 which the ace denies. Well if you have it, you got to flaunt it....eh sometimes

Najah Wakil

Lalla Diakite Lalla Diakite Drogba is the missus of Chelsea ace and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba. She has it all, to make her a perfect WAG. The mother of two shuns the limelight and leaves it to hubby Didier. The daughter of an ex Malian footballer, she was born in the tiny West African nation of Mali but grew up in France. She met Didier as a teen but it all sparked for real at a match in Vannes, Britanny sometime later and their relationship has blossomed ever since. The couple have been together now for ten years and have two children, Isaac and Kieran. Lalla hit a low in a row over allegations of unpaid wages to their London employed nanny who staged a sit-in strike at the couple’s £4 million house in Oxshott, Surrey. Feeling threatened, Lalla called the cops denying they owed the nanny a penny. Well, it eventually ended with a cheque for £430 for the nanny; er, not even a percentage of Didier’s £115,000 per week salary. 49

Lalla Diakite


By: Sahr Morris Jr.

When you say sports infrastructures what comes to mind are grandeur billion dollar Stadiums, hostels and much more like you see in overseas but a lot of African nations cannot be proud of good or better sporting infrastructures due to lack of maintenance and the likes and this poor state of sports infrastructure that most of these countries have for a long time been a source of concern for many sports loving fans.

The lack of modern stadiums and world standard running tracks have been blamed for the poor showing of most African nations in international competition like the Olympic Games and others meets. The lack of better infrastructure on the continent has had a severe effect on the growth and development of sports across the continent and its showing in the international scene. Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mauritania and many African countries especially below the Sahara for instance cannot boast of any indoor sporting facility which seriously debars the development and promotion of sporting disciplines like volleyball, basketball, handball, lawn tennis and others from being a part of the schedules of active competitions during the raining season. Also the smaller sized Stadium infrastructures that most African countries had invested in, in the past continue to deny several of them the ability of hosting international sports tournaments. In Zambia the opening of a brand new Youth Olympic Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka has created a lot of excitement because it is seen as a stepping stone to developing some international talents that could help the nation win medals on the international scene. The OYDC in Zambia which was constructed under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in partnership with the Government was a pilot project of the Sports for Hope Program and is the first of its kind in Zambia and it is believed to serve the entire population of southern Africa. 50


The OYDC now gives disadvantaged athletes in the country the opportunity to practice and develop their ability in a state-of-the-art facility which is endowed among many things with outdoor facilities for athletics, football, basketball and tennis. In July 2010, the continent’s leaders launched a new program for infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA). Led by the African Union, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and African Development Bank (ADB), the initiative has a budget of several billion dollars. President Jacob Zuma was unanimously elected as the PIDA president because of the successful organization of the World Cup, which inspired the whole continent. And in his address at the lunching of the program President Zuma said Africa's time has come and without infrastructure, the continents dreams will never be realized. He said: “We cannot trade on the continent because of the lack of communication. The infrastructure that we want to create will provide new opportunities for our continent ". If the establishment of the OYDC in Zambian can be done in nations like Liberia, Guinea, and other developing nations especially Sierra Leone, it will definitely give youths an opportunity to realize their full potential in sports. Apart from being a recreational centre, the OYDC also help curb juvenile delinquency, which has been a major source of concern for the Zambian government as it tries to prioritize investment in sport, this can also help other nations like Liberia 51


When once such infrastructure has been in place, the challenge will be on the youths to make good use of it while authorities should not forget to maintain such facility and guard against acts of vandalism that have led to other structures like this being run down in the continent. It would be a welcome idea if other partners can join forces with National Olympic Committees (NOC) in several African countries to help develop sports infrastructure.

By Leslie Koroma

It is January 2011 and according to the current schedules we are past the halfway mark in the NBA Season and the plot is thickening for a big showdown in the playoffs, which is quite some time away but it stays prevalent in the minds of the fans and the contending teams. Now the big question is; will the Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers repeat as Champions?. That is indeed a very big question mark on that based on the performance of the Lakers of late notwithstanding the fact that several teams have positioned themselves as legit contenders. The Boston Celtic are stacked with talent and they are in the mind frame of taking on all comers. With veteran leadership in the Celtics locker room it will be really difficult to dominate and defeat them in a 52


and what they are capable of with the talent they got. Will the Los Angeles Lakers defeat this Tandem in a seven Games series and all I can say at this time is..hmmmmm man!. Personally I don’t feel that that would be likely, not especially with the showing of the Lakers and the drubbing they suffered at the hands of the Heat on Christmas day of 2010. What about the new look Orlando Magic and their versatility and potent offense they have now, with the way they are rolling of late since they started gelling after the trade it will be an extremely tall task to put them away and they are looking more and more like the Team to beat. What the Los Angeles Lakers have to contend with in the west alone will cause them quite a number of sleepless nights in the San Antonio Spurs who are currently ranked as the best team in the league with their record and play. They have such a deep bench that they can afford to coast to the playoffs with mostly their bench and rookies carrying them the rest of the way. Tim Duncan (The Big Fundamental) a highly seasoned veteran along with Genobili and Tony Parker still being the Big three have never been more poised than ever to take on the Lakers than this season with the roster they have. The only thing I fear for the Spurs is that they don’t peak before the playoffs and lose not just their steam but their overall ability swagger because besides the talent a little dent in their mental confidence will cost them.

Now I have given you what I call the big five in the league; Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtic, San Antonio Spurs and the Orlando Magic and though not ignoring the other spoilers out there, there are teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder with a serious squad that could give any of the Big Five a lot of trouble in any playoff series but the only issue with them like most experts will tell you is their youth and inexperience which they lack very significantly The NBA playoffs are going to be one wonderful sports spectacle to see this year; this is what folks in the TV business would refer to as ‘Must See TV’. So don’t forget to pencil that in your April and May schedule of things to do. It will be what I call Blood Sports once it gets here and whoever makes it to the finals will get their virtually limping.

African Monthly Top Ten Rankings for January 2011 1. San Antonio Spurs 2. Orlando Magic 3. Boston Celtics 4. Miami Heat 5. Los Angele Lakers

6. Oklahoma City Thunder 7. New Orleans Hornets 8. Atlanta Hawks 9. Utah Jazz 10. Denver Nuggets

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Nazr Tahiru Mohammed Position: Center Ht: 6’ 10� Wt: 255 Team: Charlotte Bobcats Jersey Number: By Leslie Koroma Nazr Tahiru Mohammed of the Charlotte Bobcats is the son of a Ghanaian, immigrant he was raised in Chicago and attended high school at Kenwood Academy. He attended the University of Kentucky where he shared center duties with fellow NBA player Jamaal Magliore they won the NCAA Basketball championships twice in three years a very rare feat due to the level of competition in the NCAA. In 1998 Nazr decided to forgo his senior year in college and enter the NBA draft where he was selected 29th in the first round by the Utah Jazz who would then trade him to the Philadelphia 76ers for a future first round draft pick. He would spend two and half seasons with the 76ers but since then Nazr Mohammed has been quite a journey man in the NBA and has played for quite a number of teams including amongst many are The Atlanta Hawks, The New York Knicks, the San Antonio Spurs and then the Detroit Pistons the team from which he was traded to his current NBA team the Charlotte Bobcats. As a dominant rebounder he has a career best of 20 rebound you can follow Nazr Mohamed on twitter at ; http://twitter.com/#!/nazrmohammed 54


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DeSegana Diop Position: Center Ht: 7’.0� Wt: 280 Team: Charlotte Bobcats Jersey Number: 7

By Leslie Koroma DeSegana Diop originally from Senegal is a 7ft Center that currently plays for the Charlotte Bobcats he did not start playing organized basketball till he was 15 years old but he soon go on to average 14.6 points, 8.1 blocks, and 13.2 rebounds became a standout very fast playing for Oak hill Academy in Virginia, him and his teammates shot to national prominence after they went undefeated with 33 wins and 0 losses in his Senior year and they were ranked number one in the nation in the national rankings and he won the USA today Virginia player of the year. Diop was among a crop of over five players coming straight from High School who were drafted in the NBA that year amongst the likes of Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler. He was drafted as the 8th overall pick in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers but he would spend the better part of four years on the bench as a backup Center. He would later sign a three year deal with the Dallas mavericks in his free agent year and would prove to be quite a potent player that would continue as a backup but a very good one at that as he became a dominant shot blocker in the league. He would later be moved in a Trade to the New Jersey Nets but would later return to the Mavericks who would again end up trading him again and this time to the Charlotte Bobcats the team that he is currently with.

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Christian Eyenga Moenge Position: Guard/Forward Ht: 6’ 5� Wt: 210 Team: Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey Number: 7

By Leslie Koroma

Christian Eyenga is from the Congo and plays for the Cleveland cavaliers he was drafted by the Cavs as the 30th pick in the first round in 2009. But he would spend that year playing in Spain; he would come over to the states to play for the Cavs in the 2010 summer league. At the start of the regular season he would be sent to play in the developmental league but was recalled in January to make his NBA debut against the Dallas Mavericks. Christian has a two year contract worth $2 millions with the Cavs with a 3rd and 4th optional years. He is young offensive minded player who has a lot of growing to do however.

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By Leslie Koroma Yes that’s right, because that will be a possibility during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at this year’s NBA All Star Game in Los Angeles. All indications from the league office is that Congolese born NBA phenom Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder has entered this year’s Slam Dunk Contest against the hottest dunker in the league right now in Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. This will be a real treat for the fans as Serge Ibaka is a legit Dunk Maestro himself. If you are a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder then I know you are foaming at the mouth for this contest because you already know what he is capable of and as for true fans of Serge you do as well know what to expect of him and this ‘Clash of Titans’. For everyone out there who have never seen Serge Ibaka in action then this year’s Slam Dunk Contest is your chance to see him in action. This young man from Congo Brazzaville is what I consider the biggest rising star since the likes of African Stars who became household names in the NBA in Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon and Dikembe ‘Not in My House’ Mutombo. Serge has limitless possibilities to not only emulate Hakeem and Dikembe but likely surpass them in various categories of play on the court. 60


Mali’s Team Bracing for CHAN 2011 By Aminata Mariko Mali home-based national senior team is intensely preparing to participate in the second edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) holding from February 4 to 24 in Sudan. Pitted in Group C, dubbed group of death, against 2009 title holders DR Congo, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, the local Eagles will jet to the Sudanese capital Khartoum early February to negotiate their place in a competition opened to only local players from the continent. Qualified under coach Mory Goïta, who was later fired, the Mali team will be led to Sudan by Amadou Vieux Pathé Diallo. Three days from the start of the competition, Vieux Pathé and his boys will face off against Ivory Coast in their opener on February 6, before encountering the Lions of Cameroon on February 10. Mali will play their last group match February 14 against RD Congo in a cracker many pundit believe the Santos Mountoubilé-led Congolese side will do everything to defend their title. The opening game will be played February 4 between host nation Sudan and inspiring central African side Gabon. Five stadiums were retained by the Organisation Committee of the biennial African local players’ competition. The two stadiums of Om Dourman, the Al Hilal and al Merriekh stadiums and the new stadium of Khartoum are the five sites. It should be noted that contrary to the inaugural edition held in Ivory Coast in 2009, which assembled only eights teams, the 2nd edition will gather 16 teams spread into four groups. At the conclusion of the preliminary round, the first two of each group will be qualified for the quarterfinals.

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Commentary Chances for Leone star qualifying for Nations Cup By Isatu Gbla Freetown

As the qualification for the 2012 African Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon heats on we keenly look at the chances of one of the underdogs nations in the qualifiers who had started creating an upset at the start of the qualifiers. Looking at Sierra Leone’s national team in Group G, who have already started creating an upset after their 1-1 draw against the African Champions, Egypt in Cairo, we looked at the chances of the underdog nation who have been out of the continent biggest football stage for several years. Already the team has secured two points from two matches after holding Egypt and South Africa respectively and are currently lying in third place just two points behind leaders, South Africa, but with 62


the group being a close one their is chances for the West Africa Nations to make it once again at the continents bigger stage . Firstly if they can win their next fixtures both home and away clash against second place, Nigel and hopes South Africa and Egypt tied up in one of their fixtures, the West Africa nation can easily moved at the top of the table thereby increasing their chances in the group.

Another biggest chance is if they can secure maximum point in their final group match against African champions, Egypt in Freetown that could see move closer of achieving their goal of making their

third appearance to the Nations Cup. Finally, the country’s national team can also be able to reach the big stage thou slim but it can be considering as a chance. They can qualify as one of the three best losers in the qualifiers depending on the point’s gain and goals scored. But however, as a new team and determined boys they can only make it if the football authorities can embark on international friendly matches and put structure in place they can secure their qualification goal. 63


By Alie Bittar Model African stars: that are stylish on and off the pitch In recent years, top African professional footballers have maintained the trend of wearing famous and fashionable labels, and are more interested in major brands like Ralph Lauren, Armani, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, etc. It was lots of fun researching choices of some soccer big names for our February 2011 edition. Fashion designers have recently short listed Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o, with Chelsea’s duo Ivorian-born Didier Drogba and Ghana international Michael Essien, Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu and Yaya Toure of Manchester City also making the list.

Below are names of African Sports Monthly 2011 best dressed African footballers and they are listed in their ranking order; Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Samuel Eto’o, Nwankwo Kanu and Yaya Touré.

Drogba

1 – Didier Drogba – Earned $6.6 million endorsements before the 2010 World Cup from Pepsi and Nike. Winning our top spot for his stylish outfits will not surprise many soccer fans. He wears top brands. The 2010 Premier League top scorer is our No.1. He has an extra confidence that allows him to relax as he looks. 2 – Samuel Eto’o – Joining Italian giants Inter Milan from Barcelona swelled the four-time African Footballer of the Year’s earnings to 12.4 million pounds. Samuel Eto’o has much to be proud of, thanks to his time now in Milan with Giorgio Armani. The Cameroonian has achieved his dress code. 3 – Michael Essien – earning approximately a whopping 90.000 pounds per week, and riding a Porsche car, the Ghana international focuses on modelling while out of the pitch with giant brands like Armani and Dolce and Gabbana. The Black Stars captain is our third choice. 64


4 – Nwankwo Kanu - Dominating with his hairdo, glittering shoes and open Gucci suits, Kanu is ranked forth on our list. Many pundits believe Kanu can incorporate a fashion line in his multimillion dollar investments. “Kanu can be a fashion designer,” says Nigerian Ojoko, who is also a fashion designer.

5 – Yaya Touré's titanic stature and gushing energy combine to make him one of the best midfielders in modern football. The former Barcelona midfielder, who signed a five-year deal worth 55.6 million pounds with present club Manchester City, unquestionably made our list. The Ivorian -born star uses trademark Gucci, Armani, Prada, making him the fifth African best dressed footballer for the African Sports Magazine.

Essien

Kanu 65


The NFL and the African Community By Leslie Koroma Football is a complex game for those who do not understand it, or have never played it. Many foreigners come to the USA having the knowledge and interest of the world’s most popular sport – soccer, and giving little time and heart to other sports like American Football. Many immigrants in America still find it difficult to understand the rudiments of American Football. Why is this so? Personally, I feel that there are inadequate outreach programs being carried out by the NFL (National Football League, the body which controls the professional league) in the African immigrant community. A magazine like African Sports Monthly, although young, is yet to be acknowledged as a means to reach the African immigrant community in the USA. However, we will continue to do what I will call the NFL’s bidding by not only introducing African-born players to our readers but, also try to give insights into the game and what’s going on in the league. Lack of acknowledgement will not push us to falter in courage and purpose. We will abide by our mission of helping Africans understand the game and support it since their sons are playing in the league.

How can the NFL grow its fan base in the African immigrant community and also in Africa? A brief background of the ethnic composition shows that African athletes are the most represented in the NFL, by numbers and by any standards of all immigrant communities in the USA. The children of African immigrants, when faced with a choice between schooling and sports, they veer from the soccer-playing tradition of their parents and choose to play Football. This is simply because they find the sport more attractive. Even though rough and injury-prone, these kids convince their parents to accept their choice of playing American Football. Consequently, we see a whole generation of Africans who grew up in America and newcomer immigrants picking up the game and playing it at the highest level. From Pioneers like Christian ‘the Nigerian Nightmare’ Okoye to Joseph Addai and many other current young immigrant players like pro-bowl caliber athletes like Amobi Okoye (no relations to Christian Okoye).

Have a Spokesperson Now what advice will I give the NFL in reaching out to the African immigrant population? Firstly, I believe the NFL can copy its model of outreach to the Hispanic community through its spokespersons in Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez and now Mark Sanchez and pick out a spokesman or two amongst the African born players or players born to African immigrants that they can use in some public service 66


announcements or in a commercial advertisement and let these guys project the involvement of the African immigrant community in the game. Also, they can even use the services of veterans like Christian Okoye who is still actively involved in the sports and other community projects to help in that outreach.

Create an Outreach Program The NBA, which does not have half the number of African players in the NFL, has appointed Dikembe Mutombo as its Global Ambassador alongside opening a league outreach office in Johannesburg, South Africa that’s headed by a native African, the Senegalese-born Amadou Fall. The NBA, through its NBA Cares community programs, organizes Basketball Camps and other outreach events every year in Africa pairing its African-born players in the league with their American counterparts who are thrilled just to go out and visit Africa to conduct these camps. Basketball may not have taken a foothold yet on the continent as desired but that will happen before too long. However, the NBA through its office in South Africa needs to introduce the sport in selected schools across Africa, soliciting foundations and charities for funding. This will enable African youths to grasp the excitement and values of the sport at a young age. Now I feel that the strategy employed by the NBA could be used by the NFL as a way to show that they really care for the growing number of African-born players they have playing the sport. The NFL, I believe, have never made an effort to bring the sport to the continent, and they should. African-born players or players of African descent should lead this charge in bringing the game of football to Africa, and help cultivate it from the grassroots, by asking the league to form an outreach program like the NBA’s, NBA Cares programs.

Bring Some Games or Start a League on the continent The NFL has to make a conscious effort to connect with Africa by bringing some select games to the continent as they have been doing in Europe, with games at Wembley stadium in London. They could schedule one or two games that they could play in Lagos, Nigeria (Nigeria being the biggest contributor of athletes in the NFL) or Johannesburg, South Africa; because they have the facilities available to host a game or any other African city out there. Playing exhibition games like this will not only endear the league to Africans in the USA and on the continent, but generate a new fan base that the league does not currently have and of course a fan base always translates into real dollars. The league should also make an effort to introduce a league like the NFL Europe league they once had called NFL Africa. NFL Europe failed as an experiment because it had no foundation or ambassadors like Africa has with the athletes they have playing in the league right now. It could be a six to eight team league that plays on the off-season of the NFL annual schedule and this will give the active and retired African-born NFL players and their American counterparts an opportunity to travel to Africa and help out with these teams. 67


Europe hardly has immigrant players in the league so obviously that translated into a lack of interest for people in Europe as they had no one in the NFL they could relate to. In conclusion, the game of football once understood can start to have real meaning to people and then that directly translates into having fun watching it and of course becoming a true fan of the game.

Tony Ugoh

Team: Detroit Lions Position: Offensive Guard Size: 6 ft in. / 301 lbs. Jersey Number: #72

By Hadiatu Dumbuya

Experience: 4 years

Tony Ugoh is an American Football offensive guard playing for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was born on November 17, 1983 in Houston, Texas where he played football for his Westfield High School team. After high school, Ugoh attended the University of Arkansas where he played football, and threw the discus for the school’s track team. The Indianapolis Colts selected Ugoh in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, and he remained with the team until being waived on September 8, 2010 because of concerns about his health after suffering a toe injury. The Detroit Lions signed Ugoh to take the roster spot vacated by Isaiah Ekejiuba who was lost for the season due to injury, but was listed as inactive for each of the Lions remaining 2010 games.

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Ovie Mughelli

Team: Atlanta Falcons Position: Fullback Size: 6 ft 1in. / 250 lbs. Jersey Number: #34 By Hadiatu Dumbuya

Experience: 8 years

Ovie Mughelli is an American Football fullback playing for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. He was born on June 10, 1980 in Boston, MA., and attended Porter-Gaud school in Charleston, South Carolina where he starred in football, basketball, tennis, and track. Mughelli played college football for Wake Forest University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was selected in the 4th round of the 2003 NFL player draft by the Baltimore Ravens where he spent three seasons as a special team’s player before being named as the starting fullback for 5 games in 2005. In 2006, he recorded his first NFL touchdown and received an All-Pro award that season. Mughelli joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and was named to his first Pro Bowl team for his efforts during the 2010 season. Mughelli is very concerned about children and the environment and has created The Ovie Mughelli Foundation to provide children with educational programs designed to teach them about the environment while also helping them develop mentally, socially, and physically.

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Oshiomogho Atogwe

Team: St. Louis Rams Position: Free Safety

By Hadiatu Dumbuya

Size: 5 ft 11in. / 205 lbs. Jersey Number: #21 Experience: 6 years

Oshiomogho Atogwe is an American Football Free Safety playing for the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. He was born on June 23, 1981 in Windsor, Ontario in Canada and played high school football at W. F. Herman Secondary School in Windsor where he set himself apart as an exceptional athlete, starring in football, basketball, soccer, and track. He attended Stanford University in California, where he ran track and played Free Safety on the school’s football team, being named the team’s CO-MVP in 2003. Atogwe was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL’s 2005 player draft by the St. Louis Rams and played in 12 games for the team in his rookie season and all 16 games the following season. In 2007, Atogwe led the NFC with 8 interceptions, which was second in the NFL, and had an interception in 4 straight games, becoming the first Ram to do so since the 1991- 92 season. Oshiomogho is committed to helping at risk youths and he has set up the Oshiomogho Atogwe I Am Foundation at the Institute for Science and Health to help provide children with tools for building self esteem through the use of free football clinics. He is also a strong supporter of Feed the Children, and is committed to providing meals to local families in need.

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Isaiah Ekejiuba

By Hadiatu Dumbuya Team: Detroit Lions Position: Linebacker Size: 6 ft 4in. / 240 lbs. Jersey Number: #50 Experience: 6 years

Isaiah Ekejiuba is an American Football Linebacker playing for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He was born October 5, 1981 in Nigeria, and lived in various areas of Africa, as well as, China and London, England while his mother worked for the United Nations before moving to the United States when his mother took a teaching job at Colgate University in New York. Ekejiuba attended high school at a private board school in Connecticut called the Suffolk Academy, where he played soccer, basketball, and track. He never played high school football, but won a spot on the University of Virginia football team as a walk on in 2002 where he became a standout special team’s player. Ekejiuba’s professional football career began in 2005 as an undrafted free agent signed by the Arizonian Cardinals, who cut him from the team at the end of training camp. Ekejiuba was then signed as a practice team by the Oakland Raiders. He spent just seven weeks on the practice squad before being called up to take a place on the team’s active roster. Ekejiuba was a 3rd alternate for the 2009 Pro Bowl team as a special team’s player, but despite that success, the Oakland Raiders cut him in the summer of 2010. The Detroit Lions signed him as a Linebacker just a couple of weeks later and he started the 2010 season with team, but a knee injury ended his season in early December of 2010.

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By Leslie Koroma It is the climax of the NFL season again and this time around for the year 2011 it will be a battle between Gridiron Giants Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Green Bay Packers. To add to this grand finale of a rather tepid season in terms of the performances of most teams in the league who fell short of expectations the Game will be held in the brand new 100 thousand spectator Cowboy Stadium built by the owner and manager of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones.

Jerry is known to be a man of bold moves and he surely showed it again in putting this monument together. Well you know as they say around the world ‘Everything is big in Texas’ and surely this Stadium is one massive structure with really really big replay screens along many other things in the stadium itself.

The Pittsburgh Steelers who once again won the AFC Championships twice in three years will be pitted against Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers; they will be vying for the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy. As you read this article the Odd makers are giving Green Bay the Edge in this Contest by 2points. Will they win it or will the Pittsburg win their second NFL trophy twice in three years? Well that remains to be seen.

On Sunday February 6th most of America and fans of American football will be bogged down for a few hours to witness this national event alongside the various business commercial debuts plus the Half Time Show which will feature Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas.

The hype continues to build and the $800.00 tickets are flying by the minute as we go to press here at the African Sports Monthly.

Enjoy the Game and don’t forget to support all the African Born players who will be in the game like Charlie Peprah of the Green bay Packers, 76


By Leslie Koroma

The NFL Pro-Bowl game is either meant for the true football fanatic or the league just does not really care about maintaining and growing its fan base. The Pro-Bowl is what I consider the most anti-climatic of sports event around the world. It is only watched and followed by those who are truly fanatics of the game, because it used to be played after the true climatic game of the NFL season, ‘the Super Bowl’. Why would the league hide or reduce the value of such a gem? That is the billion dollar question. What is even more puzzling about this year’s Pro-Bowl (2011) is the fact that it is being held a week before the ‘Big Game’ the Super Bowl. Why do I say it is puzzling? Because the first question most fans are asking themselves is Why would the league position the Pro-Bowl right before the super bowl when they know that Pro Bowlers (All-Stars) in the qualified teams for the Super Bowl who are expected to and would like to play in the Pro Bowl, would not be allowed to play by their respective teams, taking away from the very essence of the Pro Bowl itself which is 100% participation by all those selected by the fans.

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Also as the build up towards the Super Bowl kicks into high gear the Pro-Bowl becomes nothing but a footnote to many fans whose focus are fully on the Super Bowl. The league has to rethink its strategy on this issue of the Pro-Bowl and move it to where it develops its own identity and becomes a unique event that the entire country and football fans around the world could watch giving all probowlers voted in by their fans the chance to not only take part but be seen by a wider audience as the only game during that period. Here is what I am suggesting to the Commissioner Mr. Roger Goodell and the NFL, If the Pro-Bowl which is what we know in other sports as the All Star Game is to develop its own unique identity it should be moved to ‘THANKSGIVING DAY’ and permanently stay there. Yes I said so and that means scrapping all regular season games slated for Thanksgiving and leave the stage entirely to the Pro-Bowl. The reason I feel this way, is because the games that are usually scheduled by the league for Thanksgiving Day are most times hardly interesting, since at that time of the season some of the teams that are scheduled to play on that day are hardly attractive to see anyhow (because of horrible records) and people just watch the games because it is the only thing to do on that day. My advice is since the league is contemplating a longer regular season (18 games Schedule) this could be a perfect time to for teams to rest at mid season (for a full week that’s added to their bye weeks) and take stock of what to do for the rest of what is left in the season. Either way it is a win win for the league because you have a grand stage on a national holiday during which you can parade your all stars and draw in some more fans to the event. Doing this will attract cities to vie to host the event and which means the league can rotate it around the country and they could even play a game in Canton Ohio (home of the NFL Hall of Fame). Mr. Commissioner this is just a thought I felt I should share with you and the fans as something that could be looked at and debated to see the merits of the league adopting it.

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A Raider Fan

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By Sahr Morris Jr. Sierra Leone national team coach Christian Cole talks about family, football and managing the Leone Stars, in an interview with Africa Sports Monthly Africa Bureau Chief Sahr Morris Jr.

ASM: How best can you describe yourself and what attracted you to the game of football?

Christian Cole: Well, I am a disciplinarian from a humble Christian home. My attraction to football came during my days as a secondary school boy while attending Sierra Leone Grammar School and playing at senior level. But my passion for the sport continued to grow as I usually played the game at Bishop Court in the East End part of the city and it was at that point I was scouted by some officials of East End Lions football club. Would you describe the family you grew up in as football-loving? No! I came from a quite family, a family of five. I never spent long time with my late father Edmond Cole. After my schooling he traveled to England, so I was under the watchful eye of my grandmother. I turned out to become the only footballer from the family. Our family was from Kent village and I was the one who brought our village to the limelight through football.

When did you career kick-off properly? I started playing competitive football with East End Lions at the age of 17. After several years with them I moved to Ports Authority FC for the rest of my days before I retired from active football. It was at Ports Authority I hung my boots. 80


Did you ever get a call up to the national team? Yes, I made my first appearance for the national team in1964 under the coaching of Bockard Padre. And at that particular time we played an eight-nation tournament to open the New Guinean National Stadium. It was then I got the opportunity to play against Hungry and other big nations.

How many caps did you get and which was most memorable? I played over 60 to 70 international matches, scoring several goals because I was playing as a midfielder. My memorable time was in Ghana when we played Nations Cup qualifiers against Ivory Coast. We were down by a goal and the current Sierra Leone FA President Nahim Khadi was playing at the heart of the defense. But why I always remember that game was that I failed to convert a 81


Right‌.Coach Cole hanging heads together with another senior coach, Jobbor Sherrington

late penalty which could have saw us level the match with the Ivorians. It was a bad day for me because I missed a couple of good chances also. As a player which other player were you admiring? Well I was a big admirer of Augustus Lawson, because of his boy’s size, he was so small but he was crafty, clever and skillful, beside he was indeed a good player. During my retiring days I admired the late Ishmael Dyfan Koroma a lot because he went through our nursing in the game and he was very skillful.

How would you rate your football from start to finish? My career was developed nicely. It was good throughout for me I should say, and I did not regret playing football because I was able to equip my children. I achieve a lot from the sport. I was able to educate my children and family.

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Did you raise your family while playing? I had my kids when I was still playing, then at Ports Authority. But I was not all that attracted to women because I tried my best to avoid it and I did succeed because I did not create much time for them. That helped me a lot in terms of strength and pace. My markers found it difficult to chase me because I was able to run. Beside women affairs, I also refrained from drinking and smoking.

How did you move into coaching?

My coaching career began during my later days with Ports Authority while I was a coach player. In the national team I was understudying then coach Charlie Bio. During his leisure time I normally went up to him and asked about coaching and few things concerning coaching so he normally gives ne instruction. When I left Ports Authority I decided to move on with coaching.

Coach Cole thinking ahead

What attracted your attention to coaching and how equipped are you? It was my liking and above all I must say it was the direction of the Almighty God. You know when I stopped playing football I felt I had to pass on the knowledge to others. How quipped, I started with preliminary courses under a German instructor in Freetown in 1999. Already, I had gone through the ranks from preliminary, intermediate to advance, and Licenses A from England. You know coaching is a very big program now I am a FIFA football instructor.

How many clubs have you managed and what are your achievements? It all started for me at Ports Authority from there I moved on to East End Lions for a season then I went to Kamboi Eagles, and then to Diamond Stars and I qualified them for the CAF Cup and we reached the quarter-finals. From Kono I took over Old Edwardians and I qualified them to the Club Champions and also the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) club tournament. After Edwards I took over Mighty Blackpool but now I am with Ports Authority. 83


Have you coached any other team beside club level? My first national assignment was with the female national team in 2004. From there I continued with the U-17 team before moving on to the senior national team, Leone Stars and this is my second spell as a coach of the Sierra Leone.

As the current coach of the national team how was it like to secure a 1-1 draw against African champions Egypt?

We played a high caliber football in Cairo. The reason behind the team’s brilliant performance in Cairo was planning and cooperation. When I was appointed, I picked the type of players I needed and started my preparation.

What are the Leone Stars chances of qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon?

It all deepens on the Football Association and the government, because football now is all about motivation. I believe if they motivate the players and the technical staff we will be able to book our ticket to the Nations Cup. Failing to motivate the players will be a big problem. I believe in the current squad we have. No team can beat us easily because the squad is young and the players are all committed. All is left with me as head coach, the FA and the government to work collectively.

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Ligue 1 Roundup By Thomas Meinders

Moussa Sow The strong ones beat the weak ones. It's an experience that occurs in sports. So it is not surprising at all that the teams in front most of the time beat the teams behind. But French Ligue 1 at the moment is some kind of an extreme example of this experience. In round 20, the leading 7 teams all won their matches, leaving no space for any shifts. It has been a tight race in front from the beginning and now as the end of the campaign is coming nearer and nearer, no team shows any weakness. With four points in front Lille OSC with top scorer Moussa Sow still is in the best position to gain their first championship since 1954. With two victories at OGC Nice (2-0) and against AS Nancy -Lorraine (3-0) they kind of cemented their lead. It is a tight race not only in front, but also at the bottom of the ranks. RC Lens and SM Caen, formerly 19th and 18th, were the only teams of the lower half to win their games and made their way back to the battle against relegation. Only promoted team AC Arles-Avignon is been looked at pitifully. With only 8 points to their record, rank 17 is 13 points ahead already. In round 20, they lost 0-4 at Stade Rennes and have to make plans for next campaign's second level.

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By Alie Bittar

In this edition of the African Sports Monthly, UK Sports correspondent Alie Bittar takes a special look at the UEFA Europa League that comprises three qualifying rounds, a play-off round, a group stage and five knockout rounds. Considering the drama in the group stage we will have to wait and see more excitement and breathtaking clashes as the competition gets underway third week in February this year. The Aviva Stadium in Dublin with a capacity of 50.000 will be the arena, where Europa League final will be played, the stadium was officially opened on 14 May 2010.

With the competition now in the biggest stage round of 32 Competitors quest to reach Dublin will be immense as great names in the European football scene will have to do their best, if they are to reach Dublin May 18 2011.

Money Mage rich club Manchester City is among the contestants to resume in February and given the drama of the group stage, it could be another thrilling rollercoaster ride.

As always matches in the three qualifying rounds and the play-offs, clubs will play each order on a home-and-away basis. The club with greater aggregate of goals qualifies for the next round, with away goals and then penalties used to determine the winner in the event of a draw.

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Unquestionably the New Year will convey fresh challenges for these 32 remaining to compete, as the race for May's final and ultimately a place alongside deposed holders Club AtlÊtico Madrid on the Trophy. With big names like the Italian giants Juventus, defending Champions AtlÊtico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sampdoria among the high-profile causalities not making the final 32, it left soccer pundits with the feelings that Liverpool, former cup holder, and east Midlands Mage rich Manchester City with the ultimate chance to lift the trophy in may. However there are other traditional names like Ajax Amsterdam, FC Porto and PSV Eindhoven. But football pundits still believe in Manchester City considering the large squad and their recent form behind league leader and neighbour Manchester United in the English Premier League. Coach Roberto Mancini and his large squad will have to prove football pundits right when they face a stiff away encounter at the TBD stadium Kleanthis Vikelidis in Solanika in Greece. Adding to their squad is Edin Dzeko 24-years from Wolfsburg the attacking will have to prove he can transfer his form in Germany into the premiership. However, don’t forget the 2008 UEFA Cup conqueror Zenit St Petersburg, the only side shows 100% record to qualify nine games now separate the Russian side and the title, starting with a meeting with Young Boys Bern. Ajax comes with the appointed Frank de Boer as their new coach on a three-and-a-half year contract the 40-year-old former Dutch international defender, who had been in charge as caretaker since Martin Jol stepped down on 6 December. Will that create an immediate impact on the Ajax side when they face Anderlecht? Is yet to be proven, as they still fight to regain top spot in the Dutch Eredivisie but they are capable in springing surprises. Another exciting pair is between Sevilla FC and runaway Portuguese Liga leaders Porto. Leading Benfica by eight points clear and their form in group stage topping Besiktas to stage a clash with the Spanish side. Liverpool takes on Sparta Praha, with Kenny Dalglish as new coach.

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By Ayodele Odumade Over the years, after the advent of the Bosman Ruling, the January transfer window is one of the most anticipated times in football in Europe. The reason for this is that it gives the clubs a chance to freshen up the team with new talents, and at the same time it provides them with an opportunity to move some players on, to balance their books.

Looking at the window carefully though, the question continually asked by critics is if the transfer window is actually worth it or is it just all hype? The answer lies in a bit of both.

If a club like Barcelona is looking for a striker in the January window, the aim is to try and find a striker they can use in the European Champions League, who is not already cup tied. This may or may not be possible if the player is bought from a club who are also participating in Europe. In comparison, this issue does not arise in the August window because the group stages of the Champions League do not commence until September. However, the fact that a player is cup tied will not necessarily discourage clubs from buying such a player because they could use him solely in the league and might just be forward planning for the following season.

What effect do these January transfers have on clubs in Europe? Sometimes it makes the players over priced because the selling club knows that the buying club desperately needs the player in question. Some clubs may decide to wait till the end of the season when they might be able to obtain the services of the player at a “cheaper price�.

However, sometimes it may be cheaper to purchase a player identified in the January window because a bidding war may arise with other clubs for the player in question at the end of the season. It must also not be forgotten that agents play a big part in the transfer of players. January is usually a busy time for them because they represent the selling club, buying club and the player. Sometimes there might even be a conflict of interest where the agent may represent more than one side in a 88


transfer deal. The January transfer window sometimes forces clubs into panic buying and these clubs are sometimes left with egg on their faces as the panic buy simply does not work out!

An example of a team that might seem desperate is Aston Villa who are in trouble at the bottom of the table. They have shelled out ÂŁ18 million pounds on Darren Bent from Sunderland. Critics and pundits have stated that he is a good striker but not worth that much. For Aston Villa they could care less if he scores the goals that would preserve their premiership status. However if they get relegated and he turns out to be a flop, they might have to sell him at a reduced price, thus making a loss. It is a risk Villa have to take though.

In conclusion it is safe to say that the impact of the January transfer window is measureable in different ways. For some clubs it would be the profit they make on the player, for some it would be cutting their losses and getting something back from a player they invested in, which did not work out. For some clubs the impact is measurable by the success delivered on the pitch!

89


Dutch league (Round Up) By Daniel Rogers Over the weekend PSV Eindhoven continued to maintain their slender lead at the top of the League with a resounding 3-0 victory over strugglers VV Venlo. Eindhoven took the lead through Wilfred Bouma in the 14th minute and made it 2-0 a minute to the break through Jeremain Lens. Within a minute of resumption of play, any hopes Venlo had of a comeback was quickly dashed when Atiba Hutchinson made it 3-0 to ensure victory. The win leaves Eindhoven at the top of the table with 44 points.

Bouma

However, it appears FC Twente are determined to make the title race a hard fought contest. They continue to breathe down the neck of Eindhoven and closed their lead to just a point after beating Groningen 2-1 to make the top of the table look like a two horse race affair. Austrian Marc Janko's brace ensured victory but his teammate American Oguchi Onyewu, who was making his second appearance in the League was booked. The journeyman who left Belgium's Standard Liège in 2009 and is on loan from AC Milan played excellently throughout the duration of the match. Elsewhere, Ajax lost 3-0 to FC Utrecht , with Roda JC winning by the same margin aginst Excelsior Rotterdam. Ajax still lie third despite their loss. Earlier on Saturday De Graafschap beat Feyenoord 1-0, whilst Heracles and AZ Alkmaar drew goaless. NEC Nijmegen were forced to a 2-2 draw by NAC Breda , with Willem II winning at Vitesse 1-0. Their rare victory still leaves them rooted at the bottom of the table.

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Oguchi Onyewu 91


Paul “Mandela” Kamara rocks By Isatu Gbla in Freetown

Sierra Leone’s new Minister of Youth, Employment and Sport, is a veteran journalist and Human Rights Activist who has stood up against successive governments in Sierra Leone .

Minister Paul Kamara

In 1996, he was shot on the leg by the National Provision Ruling Council, as they fought without success to hold on to power. Paul bounced back from the treatment table to continue his work as a fearless critic of the newly installed civilian government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his Sierra Leone People’s Party. He trod on ‘big toes’, when he dared questioned President Kabbah’s credibility. He was sentenced, but later had his conviction was

overturned by the Appeals Court .

In November 2002, he was again incarcerated under libel laws that had not been put into use for three decades, in a matter that was widely condemned as a travesty of justice, involving a senior High Court Judge Justice Tholla Thompson. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. His sentence whipped up a wave of protests from colleagues and journalists around the nation and the world. Upon his release in March 11, 2003, Paul was met at the entrance of the Central Prisons, from where he was carried shoulder high by his adoring colleagues, who nicknamed him “Mandela”. Besides being a journalist, Paul Kamara is the founder and chairman of Wellington Peoples Football Club, formerly a Sierra Leone Premier League side.

The newly appointed minister spoke to our Freetown Correspondent Isatu Gbla at his Skye Street office recently. On his vision for sport in Sierra Leone, he said that he 92


wanted to actualise President Koroma’s agenda for change, for the youth of this country as well as all employees in the presidents agenda for change program. As president Koroma has vowed to liberate the youth of Sierra Leone and has been the liberator of the land thus far. He said that his second vision is that he has a package to make sure that the youth become the vanguard for national development. When he was asked whether he will concentrate only on football and abandon other sport activities he said that the policy of the Youth Employment Scheme YES does not only concentrate on football but all the 21 sporting discipline across the country, however he went on to say that sporting discipline like football, cricket, boxing, volleyball, lawn tennis, as well as athletics are generally popular with spectators but more especially football but every little known sports like wrestling, weight lifting and other will be given priority.

Paul Kamara & SLFA president, Nahim Khadi 93


Speaking about if he will seek revenge on SLFA because he was jailed by Thola Thompson the former president of the association, he said that, some journalist believes that he was jailed by Thola Thompson who by then was the president of the appeals court and same time president of the SLFA, He said my appointment by President Koroma is to liberate and empower the youth of Sierra Leone and what critics fail to understand is that it is not only football that has to answer here but all other sporting disciplines have to submit a status report of their activities since 2007 with the exception of the SLFA no other sporting disciplinary have challenged the move taking by the ministry except the SLFA. He also went on say that the Thola Thompson issue has no relevance because the period was covered under the Nahim Khadi administration, so what is this talk about a vendetta with Thola Thompson whose administration has long since passed. Talking about reforms at SLFA as to whether things will be seen as a witch hunt, in response, he smiled and asked who is there to be hunted at SLFA when the step taken is normal in government as it is normal for new ministers to received and handled over notes from their predecessor and bodies like SLFA the crickets association for them to submit their status report, and besides the Anti corruption commission ACC has found wanting several members of the Nahim Khadi Administration the ACC by its findings says that the secretary General Alimu Bah who is an administrative secretary General, Abubakarr Sweet Kay Kabba are guilty of corruption which is undermining the integrity of the of the entire executive. He also went on to say that besides the rest of the executive members like JS Kelefa are before the ACC Commission while the president himself Nahim Khadi has his file before the ACC. Mr. Kamara further went on to say that last week the New ACC Boss Joseph Kamara in public said he is looking into the remaining files for prosecution. He said that even FIFA has now establish an ACC committee because of the corruption and scandal at the institution and also the Minster of sport in Switzerland were FIFA has his head quarters is conducting all the sporting disciplinary in Switzerland including FIFA itself these means like our Government as well as steps been taken by several African sports ministry to make sure that that no one who is above the law and that corruption is a crime that any body found wanting must be dealt with without exception. 94


He said that a British politician recently said you can take politics out of the game but you cannot take politician from the game because it is government that’s provides the funds for the football association whiles corrupt sporting officials used the FIFA card to corrupt themselves at the expenses of the image of the country and development of the youth who actually are the once for which FIFA provides these funds for .

Highlights of the Italian League By Daniel Rogers, London

Cristian Zapata The Scudetto was rocked over the weekend when defending and European Champions Inter Milan where humbled 3-1 by mid tablers Udinese. Inter Milan raced to take the lead in the 16th minute through Dejan Stankovich, but Udinese drew level four minutes later through a powerful thunderbolt from Cristian Zapata. 95


Spurred on the goal, Udinese rallied and their effort quickly paid off five minutes later when Antonio Natale's freekick made the scoreline 2-1. Udinese wrapped up victory in the 69th minute through Maurizio Domizzi and hit the woodwork more than once to take away all the points from the defending Champions. Udinese, after a poor start to the league now move 8th, with Inter Milan lying 5th, nine points adrift from table toppers A C Milan. In another encounter, table toppers AC Milan brushed aside the bunga bunga (sex parties) controversy surrounding club owner and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to beat Cesena 2-0 with an own goal from Maximiliano Pellegrino before Zlatan Ibramhimovic wrapped it up in stoppage time. The victory leaves AC Milan at the top of the table with 44 points. Elsewhere, Napoli beat Bari 2-0, whilst Bologna eased past Lazio 3-1. Chievo drew Genoa to a goalless, whilst Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Lecce. Sampdoria held Juventus to a goal drought 0-0. Earlier on Saturday, Palermo edged Brescia 1-0, whilst Parma notched all three points in their 2-0 victory over Catania. Francessco Toti spearheaded a fast-paced Roma to a 3-0 victory over Cagliari after opening the goal feast with a spot kick beautifully converted in the 22nd minutes.

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| Home Team

P

| Away

W

D

L

F

A

W

D

L

F

A

GD

PTS

1

AC Milan 21

7

2

2

23

10

6

3

1

14

8

19

44

2

Napoli

21

6

2

2

17

8

6

2

3

15

12

12

40

3

Roma

21

8

2

0

20

7

3

3

5

11

17

7

38

4

Lazio

21

7

2

2

18

11

4

2

4

9

10

6

37

5

Inter Mi- 20

6

3

1

23

10

4

2

4

10

12

11

35

6

Juventus 21

5

3

2

22

17

4

5

2

13

8

10

35

7

Palermo 21

7

2

2

21

9

3

2

5

13

16

9

34

8

Udinese 21

7

1

2

18

10

3

2

6

16

18

6

33

9

Sampdo20 ria

4

5

1

11

5

2

4

4

9

13

2

27

10

Cagliari

21

5

1

4

16

8

2

4

5

8

14

2

26

11

Fiorenti20 na

6

2

2

14

9

0

5

5

7

12

0

25

12

Parma

21

4

5

2

10

6

2

2

6

11

19

-4

25

13

Bologna 21

5

4

1

12

8

2

3

6

11

21

-6

25

14

Chievo

21

3

6

2

9

8

2

3

5

11

14

-2

24

15

Genoa

20

3

2

5

8

13

3

4

3

7

6

-4

24

16

Catania

21

5

4

2

12

9

0

3

7

6

18

-9

22

17

Lecce

21

4

3

3

13

13

1

2

8

7

25

-18

20

18

Cesena

21

4

2

5

8

11

1

2

7

7

16

-12

19

19

Brescia

21

4

2

4

11

10

1

1

9

6

17

-10

18

20

Bari

21

2

3

6

7

15

1

2

7

6

17

-19

14

Italy Serie A : Table Sunday, 23 January 2011 21:52 UK

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My top 5 ports personalities of the 20th Century By Sahr Morris Jr.

1. GEORGE WEAH For me he deserves to be at the top of my list, the striker from Liberia has been the first and yet only African player who has been nominated and won the World Footballer of the year award. He had tremendous success at AS Monaco, Paris St.Germain, and then AC Milan. He was unable to take Liberia to the World Cup but he is even more popular for his help towards the country’s football development and the people. He made it possible, when the country was caught in the throes of a deadly civil war, for the Liberian national team to take part at competitions and gave some people hope when it was needed the most. Weah is a true African football legend and the greatest talent ever from the continent.

2. HOSSAM HASSAN It is challenging and arguable, Hossam Hassan from Egypt has been member of the strong Egyptian squad that took part at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Not many Europeans have been able to see him, but his style in combinating with other attackers on converting opportunities is perfect and absolutely precise. He crowned his career with an extraordinary performance with Egypt winning the African Cup Of Nations 1998. For me he is the greatest captain of the continent,

98


3. ABEDI PELE I consider Abedi Pele next after Hassan because the Ghanaian became one the greatest pioneers of African football in Europe. He won the European Champions League/Cup Of Champions 1993 with Olympique Marseille and has been one of the first African player to hold a position in a big European club, if not the first. His later clubs were Olympique de Lyon, Torino, and Munich 1860. As a 17-year old he had helped Ghana win the Nations Cup in 1982 but his efforts to lead the team to a similar triumph as captain in the 90's were of no luck. In 1992, when they reached the finals, he was suspended because of two yellow cards and had to watch his team lose on penalties. Meeting him at the Soccer City Stadium for the finals between Spain and the Netherlands, I asked myself ‘How would it have been for the Black Stars if Abedi Pele was on the squad against Uruguay’

4. KALUSHA BWALYA I ndeed the former Zambian outstanding midfield playmaker deserves a place in this squad. He was one of the big stars of the Olympic tournament of 1988, when Zambia beat Italy 4:0, and the Zambian team seemed to be destined to become one of the big names of the 90's. Then a tragic plane crash killed the entire team apart from Kalusha Bwalya who had not been on board. Still Zambia remained among the top teams of Africa, but Kalusha Bwalya did not win the African Cup Of Nations like his Ghanaian counterpart Abedi Pele.

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5. RASHIDI YEKINI You doubt why, yeah he deserves it; for me, the Nigerian striker was famous to the world for his symbol-loaded celebration after his first World Cup goal for Nigeria against Bulgaria 1994. But even more important was his role in bringing Nigeria to the top where the country had been expected since long ago, but where they never had established themselves. The climax was the victory at the African Cup Of Nations 1994. For Rashidi Yekini the success of African players in European leagues came a little bit too late.

African Players in the US MLS

Danleigh Borman Position: Defender Ht: 5’ 9� Wt: 160 Team: New York Red Bulls Jersey Number: 12

By Leslie Koroma Danleigh Borman is a South African Soccer player in the MLS who currently plays for the New York Red Bulls. He started his career in the junior league system of the South African Premier Soccer League. He would land in the US with a Scholarship to play at the University of Rhode Island. He would also play locally in Rhode Island with the Rhode Island Stingrays in the USL Premier Development League. Borman was drafted in 2008 by the New York Red Bulls as the 7th overall pick in the first round of 100


the MLS Draft and would debut with the Red Bulls on April of 2008. Borman scored his first MLS goal against the L A Galaxy the very next month after his debut. He would appear in 15 matches in his first year and score a total of two goals. During the following season his second; Borman was able to secure a starting position for the Red Bulls. Borman has only been called up internationally by South Africa at the Under -17 level only one time till date, but keep a look out for this star in a stadium near you.

101


Michael Lahoud

Position: Mid Fielder Ht: 5’ 8� Wt: 162 Team: Chivas USA Jersey Number: 11 By Leslie Koroma

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Michael Lahoud and his family escaped civil unrest from his native Sierra Leone and settled in the Washington DC area when he was only 3 years old. He took a liking to soccer and honed his skills with the acclaimed Braddock Road Youth Club and Reston FC, as well as with W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va., where he was The Washington Post's All-Met player of the year in spring 2005. His next stop was with the ACC titans of Wake Forest where he made 89 appearances in four years and, in his junior season, they won an NCAA championship. In 2009, Chivas USA selected him with the ninth overall pick in the MLS draft and, late in his rookie season, he was awarded a starting Job on the team. Last year (2010), Lahoud started 20 league matches as a midfielder. In August of 2010 Lahoud was awarded the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month honor for his efforts with HIV prevention through The Wall Memorials Project. On October 23, 2010 Lahoud was named the 2010 MLS Humanitarian of the Year.

102


103


Mehdi Ballouchy

Position: Mid Fielder Ht: 5’ 8� Wt: 162 Team: New York Red Bulls Jersey Number: 10

By Leslie Koroma

This young North African was born and grew up for the better part of hs very young childhood in Casablanca Morocco where he started his playing soccer at a young age his family moved to the United States where he would blossom in his game first at Colorado and then on to Palo Alto California. Mehdi started his pro career with the USL developmental league but would be taken as the second overall pick in the 2006 MLS Draft by Real Salt Lake City FC. After a two year stint with Real Salt Lake Mehdi was traded to the Colorado Rapids. He would go on t o make over 77 appearances for the Rapids and then got traded to his current team the New York Red Bulls a team that had been in a quest for a solid mid-fielder and they found one in Mehdi. He debuted for the New York Red Bulls on September of 2010, while anchoring the midfield he would help lead the Red Bulls clinch its second regular season Eastern Conference Title. Mehdi made several Under 16 and 17 appearances for his national side of Morocco but Mehdi who is in the process of becoming a US citizen may likely represent the US side someday, meanwhile keep an eye of for this ace of a midfielder 104


105


By Foday Mannah, Scotland Past the half way point of this season and one thing is for certain: the English Premier League for once, lacks a definitive outstanding team. Think the Manchester United side of season 98/99 that swept all before them, winning an unprecedented treble in the process. Or, the Arsenal “Invincibles” of season 03/04 who managed a whole season without a single defeat. Think Mourinho’s Chelsea side of seasons 04/05 and 05/06: brutally efficient and methodical. All of these were stellar sides that in their heydays left the opposition quaking in their boots. This however may not be cause for despair, for while no single team has sparkled this season there has been an abundance of drama and incident. Manchester United currently sit top and are yet to taste defeat. Sir Alex’s side for once lacks the traditional flair and aplomb that have been a trade mark down the years. The loss of the likes of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo may explain this. Prosaic rather than sparkling, the current Red Devils are experienced and in Nemanja Vidic, have the finest defender in the league. Their away form though remains cause for concern with a paltry two wins on the road. Arsenal remain enigmatic: scintillating at times with their now customary brand of expansive football, but also vulnerable and suspect. Three home setbacks to promote sides like Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion, in addition to squandering a two-goal advantage before succumbing to Spurs, speak volumes. Arsenal, however, have developed steel on the road and no longer have a soft underbelly. They boast the league’s best away form and have been rarely troubled on their travels. Spurs however have been the revelation of the season and in Gareth Bale have possibly the league’s finest player. Spurs are the most carefree and spontaneous side with a plethora of technical players that ooze class: Modric, Van der Vart, Bale, Lennon. Their dismantling of Inter Milan in this year’s Champions League stands out as one of the highlights of the season thus far. Champions Chelsea have problems. Early in the season, they were in imperious form, simply bludgeoning the opposition with some outstanding results. Critics have down the years stated that the current Chelsea side’s Achilles heel was father time: though experienced and talented, many key players (Drogba, Lampard, Terry, and Anelka) are over thirty and may have seen their best days. Furthermore, the departure of experienced heads like Ballack, Deco and Belleti has left the squad light of seasoned bench-warmers. Manchester City it would appear have the most impressive squad of players with wealthy owners prepared to 106


flaunt cash in the pursuit of success. The January signing of yet another striker (Edin Dzeko) clearly illustrates this point. Carlos Tevez continues to lead by example, but an over-reliance on his goals may prove a weakness. Inflated egos and infighting may also prove problematic for manager Mancini. City must also learn to break free from the shackles of Italian caution, especially when facing the bigger sides: their negative tactics against Manchester United and Arsenal pose questions rather than supply answers. Liverpool, once great, remain mired in mediocrity and crisis. The appointment of icon Kenny Dalglish may not be the panacea many hope for. Icons don’t always make good managers: remember Glen Hoddle at Spurs? The second coming of Kevin Keegan at Newcastle? Liverpool’s squad is at worst mediocre and at best functional. An abundance of average signings continue to undermine great traditions. The promoted sides though have seen a breath of fresh air: Newcastle have amongst other things thumped local rivals Sunderland 5-1 and put another 5 past a hapless West Ham side. Winning away to Arsenal was another feather in the cap. The ludicrous sacking of Chris Houghton though, still rankles and left a bitter taste in the mouth. Blackpool and their charismatic manager, Ian Holloway, have been sheer box-office. Many pundits had predicted a swift return to the Championship, but the seaside outfit have been plucky and motivated, beating Liverpool home and away. West Bromwich Albion also caters to an aesthetically pleasing brand of football, drawing at Old Trafford and winning at the Emirates. No mean feat on both occasions. Bolton have also been mightily impressive, finally shedding their reputation as a long-ball team accustomed to roughhouse tactics. Owen Coyle now has them playing pure football designed to entertain rather than stifle and frustrate. Stoke and Blackburn also sit comfortably in mid-table, and both remain awkward oppositions at their best. And then there’s the relegation dog-fight with so many teams still hovering over the relegation trap door: Wigan, Wolves, Fulham, West Ham, and Aston Villa all continue to toss and turn at night. Who’ll win the league and who’ll get relegated? Perhaps time to draw lots or flick a coin!

107


Player Profile Mohamed ‘Pobosky’ Bangura By Alie Bittar, Our Roving Correspondent

Pobosky casts a spell on spectators

Mohamed Bangura, a Sierra Leonean, born soccer maestro, plies his trade with a top Swedish club from Stockholm city AIK Solna. Bangura made his Allsvenkan debut for AIK against Malmo FF coming in as a substitute in the 74th minute. A natural born striker, Bangura's career kick started with local club FC Kallon of Sierra Leone. Because of his hard-work, power and pacy skills in one-on-one situations, he attracted international scouts when he represented the club at the World Youth Tournament Viareggio cup 2010. He started the tournament with a goal against Napoli SSC despite FC Kallon losing 3-2. Again he netted a brace when they faced AC Parma.

108


From FC Kallon he joined IFK Varnamo, in the Swedish third tier, on loan. Immediately, he made an impact. Bangura scored 12 goals in 13 league encounters, helping Varnamo to become top contenders in the division. He joined AIK in on a three and half year deal from IFK Varnamo on July, 28th 2010. Bangura was in the starting eleven in AIK's next fixture, in their Uefa Champions League qualifier at home against Rosenborg BK. The Sierra Leonean AIK Allsvenkan striker, Mohamed ‘Pobosky’ Bangura has been the top goal scorer; six goals in 13 league games which is a record for the 21-year-old crowd’s favourite at the Råsunda stadium. Bangura had an excellent season with AIK. Due to his outstanding performances he became a major concern for the Stockholm side as many European clubs wanted the young star’s services including top Egyptian side Al Ahly. The Swedish giant turned-down 4.2 million euro from Al Ahly and tagged the youngster at 30 million Euros. That move was a way to keep the potential world top striker, according to fotbollsverige.se In fotbolltransfers.com, the player named success striker after AIK's assistant coach Björn Wesström says he is not for sale.

In training

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Bangura was described in one of the Swedish top newspaper as AIK’s saviour at a time when the club was fighting for a place in the 2010-11 seasons. Now, as Sierra Leone's most wanted striker in the beginning of 2010, he earned his first international cap in a 0-1 loss to Senegal in Dakar. Ever since, he is now a vital player in Sierra Leone’s campaign for Gabon, Equatorial Guinea 2012.

He was part of the Sierra Leone team that held the African Champions; Egypt in Cairo to a 1-1 draw in September 2010, followed by another brilliant effort by the players in Freetown against South Africa in their 0-0 draw.

By Leslie Koroma

On Saturday January 22nd 2011 Jeneba Tarmoh an American athlete of Sierra Leonean descent ran the second fastest time till date for 2011 in the women’s indoor 200meters dash at an Indoor Track and field meet at Texas A&M University in College Station Texas. She ran a time of 22.98sec and looked at very much being at the cusp of a major breakthrough for her career in the sprints internationally. She definitely has arrived with a time like that and all she has to do now is keep her focus and be consistent. I went to the track meet and was able to speak to Ms Jeneba Tarmoh briefly as it is our mission to cover all athletes of African descent here in America and I had been trying to catch up to this lady with such a huge potential to one day be the fastest woman in the world for some time. However I could not conduct the interview I wanted at the time but would later get a call from Ms. Tarmoh a few days later and here is that Interview 110


African Sports Monthly: I am talking to Jeneba Tarmoh, she has a very strong African background; her parents are from Sierra Leone. Jeneba just ran one of the fastest times for women this year (2011) in the 200 meters dash event. Jeneba how are you? Jeneba: I’m good, thank you ASM: I was there at the meet on Saturday and saw you run some very fast impressive time which happens to also be the second fastest time for women in the world in the 200meters this year, how do you feel about that time. Jeneba: I feel very confident about that time I have never ran anything below 23.2 indoors so to run 22.9 is a blessing and I can’t wait to see what happens later on in the year. ASM: Now the season has just started and you have ran a very fast time already so early in the season what does that say about your performance, what do you see yourself doing this year so far Jeneba; I see myself running really fast this year and as far as goals go I don’t know what time I should even limit myself to, because I don’t think I was going to be this fast at this time already I want to get 22 low but whatever happens, happens so long as I can go out there and run my heart out and run a really good time I will be fine with that.

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ASM: It’s looking like you might be running 22 low when the outdoor season gets here for sure with a time like this in the 200meters in a indoor facility and at the same time it I feel like you stand to make a very big breakthrough in your career this year. What are you really aiming at in terms of you overall career in track and field? Jeneba: As far as my career goes I want to run as fast as I can for as long as I can. I do plan on going professional ASM: OK Jeneba: I don’t know with what company, I don’t know anything, about whether I want to run for America or If I want to run for Sierra Leone yet but I do plan on going pro and I just want to run and see how fast I can get. ASM: Talking about running what age did you start running, I mean you are so fast. I was in awe when I saw that 200meters race and I was like wow you are so fast, when did you start running? Jeneba: I think I was 15 or 16 I was pretty young compared to some of the other athletes ASM: But that’s pretty late though for you to transcend to this level so fast and that’s say a lot. Now the Olympics are coming up in 2012 and then there is the World Athletics Championships in Daegu South Korea this year in August do you see yourself participating in those events that are coming up. Jeneba: I definitely would love to see myself participating, as of now would I say that I would be in it today? I don’t think I have developed enough at this stage to be in the Olympics today but by this time next years it could happen. ASM: You are an American with a strong Sierra Leonean background. If given a choice competing for the United Sates or Sierra Leone; I am not saying make a choice at this time but do you see yourself at some point in time competing for Sierra Leone. Jeneba: That’s a decision I am unsure of right now …I can’t give you an answer. (Laughs) ASM: I totally understand and when that time comes you will make that decision right and that’s something I respect and I honor your wishes. But now looking at what’s ahead in terms of competition in the outdoor season what are you guys; I mean your University A&M, what other big meets are you guys going to be competing in out there that you want people to know about Jeneba: What other meets I want them to know about? ASM: Yeah the other meets that you guys at A&M are going to be competing in that you want other people to know about. Jeneba: I think that they should know about all the meets out there that we are going to be competing in because I feel that every meet we as a team including myself we will be competing in we will be improving so I fell that they need to know about all the meets out there. ASM: OK what’s the next meet you guys have is it an indoor meet and are you going to be competing in another indoor meet or is this it for the indoor season 112


Jeneba: Well (laughs) I will be competing at probably every indoor meet out there and we will be competing every weekend until Nationals ASM: By the way where are the Nationals this year? Jeneba: Indoor nationals will be hosted at Texas A&M ASM: At Texas A&M, on what date? Jeneba: I ‌‌. cannot tell you that, I think it is March 11th. ASM: March 11th Okay; we will be there for sure to cover it as well because that means they will be bringing all the top notch college athletes into one arena right? So we will be there to cover and we wanted to just let our readers know about this. Jeneba we here at African Sports Media Network are here to help promote you guys with African background or were born in Africa here in America and across the world. We take pleasure in bring113


ing you or getting to introduce you to our readers letting them realize that there is a Super-Fast Sprinter out there called Jeneba Tarmoh she is along the ilk of a Florence Griffith Joyner…. You know I am trying to compare you to people that are Hall of famers out there because I see so much potential in you. What do you feel in that regard yourself; do you see yourself achieving that high level of accomplishment before it is all said and done? Jeneba: I do see myself achieving the highest victories a person can achieve. With a high level of dedication it is possible because I know am that type of athlete and I have that type of potential ASM:…..Do you mind if I ask as this is a kind of personal question pertaining to your heritage from Sierra Leone, would you mind letting our readers know about where your family is from in Sierra Leone Jeneba: I know my Mom she is from Tikonko and my dad I am not sure where he is from (giggles) ASM: (Laughing) well you will need to ask him I mean like put him on the spot. Jeneba: They are both from the Bo area ASM: so they are both from Bo area in the southern Province and they are both Mendes right? Jeneba: Yes we are Mendes ASM: Wonderful! Now that our readers know who you are and where you are from and the potential that you have and that maybe one of these days you may be flying Sierra Leones flag high up there maybe one day you will make that decision what do you have to say to Sierra Leoneans in general, if you have anything to say at all. Jeneba: Although the country went through a lot of things and it seems like it has been stripped of a lot people need to keep their eyes open and just be hopeful and pray for better days to come, because obviously things are getting better as they do have family in America that’s always looking out for the Sierra Leonean community. So just be aware of everything. ASM: well I will say thank you for this time for talking to you and you expressing yourself about your life, career and prospect and do wish you good luck and success in all you do out there we will be following your career and we will be bringing you back on again sometime after some major meet when you have possibly broken another World record out there and look forward to talking to you again Jeneba: alright then it was good talking to you too ASM: Absolutely.

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Sierra Leone FA Secretary General Unfazed By Minister’s Warning

By Muctaru Wurie

The state of football in Sierra Leone under the administration of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has been once more brought under the radar. When President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed critical Sierra Leonean journalists and longtime SLFA critic Paul Kamara as the new Minister of Sports, everybody knew there was bound to be some controversy. For a man who has always known to be a blunt kind of guy, the new Minister wasted no time in firing his shots at the direction of the SLFA. And one of his bone of contention was the office of the Secretary General, which by the way is occupied by a former journalist acting in the capacity in place of Alimu Bah who was found guilty by the Anti-Corruption Commission on corruption charges. The minister asked the SLFA to explain the status of their Acting General Secretary Abdul Rahman Swarray who has two other jobs as university lecturer and CAF education officer in the SLFA. The Minister’s letter states that it’s against the employments laws of Sierra Leone for Swarray to be receiving salary from the Sierra Leone consolidation funds for his job as a university lecturer whilst having two other paid up jobs. On this issue, African Sports Magazine caught up with Abdul Rahman Swarray who gave us his reaction to the minister’s claims. African Sports Magazine (ASM): What do you have to say about the Paul Kamara’s move to ‘clean’ Sierra Leone football? Abdul Rahman Swarray (ARS): It is always a good thing when a new minister comes in and tries to put things in place and work with sports stakeholders to move the game forward. At SLFA our main aim is to work with the government and find ways in which we can all help to contribute to the growth of the beautiful game in our sweet Sierra Leone. We look forward to having a good working relationship with the new minister, and we hope to work with him in the due course of the established legal framework. (ASM): What do you make of his calls that you are not fit to be in your position as you are receiving salary from the consolidated funds in other jobs?

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(ARS): I don’t know may be you will have to ask him, what I know is that I have a job to do to push Sierra Leone football forward and as long as I have the mandate to do that nothing can deter me from carrying on. The honourable minister has a newspaper and is now receiving salary from government; he might need to check on his own backyard before pointing fingers across. (ASM): Are you afraid of loosing your job? (ARS): Laughs, (ah ahahhhhh) I am only afraid of not doing my job, and that fear pushes me to work in the best interest of football in Sierra Leone. Our job is huge and the task at hand is surmounting, as long as my employers wants me to continue in this capacity, then I see no reason why I should relent or feel threatened because someone feels that I am not fit to be in this office because of some unfounded allegation. (ASM): What do you make of calls by the minister that the Premier League board is almost unnecessary because you (SLFA) should be undertaking that task of managing the Sierra Leone premier league? (ARS): This again is a surprise to me because let us look at what is happening in the developed world, in England you have the FA managing the development of football and the Premier League body organising the world renowned Barclay Card Premiership. We have done the same thing in Sierra Leone because we want to ensure people of integrity can focus on the development of our local league. We are not going to be drawn into any suggestion to take us back in our quest to enhance football in Sierra Leone. (ASM): Have you had a rethink at SLFA over the past few days on the way you run football in the country? (ARS): We are always open to innovations and ideas that will augment the state of football in Sierra Leone, we know we are leaders in the game of football and we also know that people have right to criticise us and make recommendations on how to push football forward. So this is not a surprising development to us, we are always looking out for the best framework in moving football forward and we will not have a rethink just because someone comes up with a 116


Bundesliga Roundup by Thomas Meinders

Didier Ya Konan The German Bundesliga championship 2010/11 seems to be decided. With a 3-1win at Bayer Leverkusen, league leader Borussia Dortmund extended it's lead to 12 points in front of new second ranked club Hannover 96. The team from the Ruhrgebiet-area in western Germany played an impressively dominant football, monitoring the happenings at the match with every second. They needed no more than 6 minutes to score their goals at the beginning of the second half. Doublescorer Kevin Großkreutz and his young, 18-year-old teammate Mario Götze, who played central midfield for the first time, supplied the entertainment. Stefan Kießling's late goal was of no more influence on the game, since Leverkusen - previously the only serious follower of Dortmund - had could not score at all. Meanwhile not only Leverkuse, but also the other next ranked teams lost points. Mainz 05 lost against VFB Stuttgart 0-1, SC Freiburg's match versus FC St.Pauli ended in a 2:2-draw (two goals by Senegalese Papiss Demba Cissé) and record-champion Bayern Munich received a late goal by German international defender Sascha Riether to equalize Munich's lead: 1-1. Only Hannover 96, one of the many surprising teams of this season's campaign stayed undefeated and won 3-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt with goals scored by Mohammed Abdellaoue, Christian Schulz and Ivorian topscorer Didier Ya Konan. The biggest German football-magazine "kicker" asked on his cover the question: "And who's finishing second?" afterwards. The championship - so it seems - is decided. 117


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AFRICAN SPORTS MONTHLY Feb Issue  

African Sports Monthly Magazine is your number one Sports Magazine for Africa serving all on the continent and around the world. We feature...