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SLOAA Annual Soccer Tournament ends in New York

SLOAA Annual Soccer Tournament ends in New York

The annual soccer tournament that assembled Sierra Leaoneans from all across the United States ended in New York City on July 31st, with no winner reported in the final encounter between Atlanta, Georgia and Philadelphia states.  However, the championship trophy which had been named, “Ishmael Dyfan Trophy” is to be shared by the two finalists for a period of six months, before the next tournament, according to the President of the Sierra Leone Old Athletics Association (SLOAA), Mr. Patrick Dangawali. The “Brima Attuga Trophy” remained unused.  Fourteen states including, New York (host), Texas, California, Philadelphia, Missouri, Boston, Virginia, Ohio, Washington DC, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Arizona, have participated in this year’s competition. (Photo: Ambassador Bockarie Stevens saluting the national anthem)

Ambassador Bockarie Stevens, the Sierra Leone Ambassador in Washington was honored by the New Yorkers to take the kick-off.  The national anthems of Sierra Leone and the United States were loudly sung in an awakening echo as to exceed the most optimistic expectation by our country’s representative in Washington. Organizers were steadfast in their operation to ensure peaceful competition and many members have commended New Yorkers for their overall responsibilities as host. Although, our emotions are sometimes counterproductive to emerge a successful tournament, the new administration headed by Patrick Dangawalli and Sento Johnson had vow to work on modalities to ensure orderly behavior in the coming meetings.

Ambassador Bockarie Stevens clapping after the national anthem

Disorderly conduct contributed to the incompletion of the festival.  The second phase of the tournament was planned for a grand party, where the trophies should have been presented to the winners, but unfortunately, the police put to an end the show at 2:00 a.m. because of a large crowd that was unreasonably reluctant to enter the party hall but instead were jam-packed outside, causing residents to contact the police for disturbance. Other sources also stated that the music was too loud leading to a dramatic agitation by the neighbors. Despite being a party city it is unhealthy for the police to see people jam-packed in the streets of New York at midnight therefore, the police, in a peaceful manner, mandated an end to the party by 2:00 a.m.

Atlanta team finalists

While the tournament has the potential to play a significant role in challenging of tribalism, sectionalism, and high political differences, Sierra Leoneans yet have a long way to achieve such a cohesive goal.  Some of the obstacles for achieving such purposeful goals are virtually “rowdy and untimely” behavior which underscores in most host states to have an incomplete tournament. Ohio 2009 was a host state and tournament was not completed resulting in the worst tournament.  While Texas 2008, was classified as the best tournament because it was completed and no form of violence occur. With the leadership of Sento Johnson, the man whose new responsibility is to ensure the smooth running of the tournament said that, new rules will be implemented to prevent unrealistic occurrences in the future.

Sierra Stars of Texas warming up to meet with Virginia

This annual tournament is an amateur soccer competition, which is placing the event within the context of Sierra Leoneans integrity to maintain unity and love among Sierra Leoneans in the United States. The organization, SLOAA which was founded by former Leone Stars strike, Sento Johnson is thoughtfully aimed at putting into conception of identity and the role that soccer can play in reinforcing peace and unity in our societies. It is all about meeting each other and becoming acquainted with long time missing friends and then having fun. It is not about winning a gold medal, but to get together peaceful Sierra Leoneans. The game is intended to demystify the ethnicity boundaries while bringing out the spirit of brotherhood in one nation.

Both leaders, Mr. Patrick Dangawalli and Sento Johnson told me that, a new strategy will be laid out to ensure a completion of the tournament in the future.  They disclosed that the next tournament is to be hosted by California in Los Angeles.  It is probably going to be scheduled on Labor-Day weekend, Sento said.

Sanpha Sesay, Texas Correspondent

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