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Bravo Leone Stars for good sportsmanship – continue to strive for World Cup qualifier!

Bravo Leone Stars for good sportsmanship – continue to strive for World Cup qualifier!

Not many would know his full name “EDSON ARANTES DO NASCIMENTO” commonly known as PELE was the shoeshine boy of Brazil from a poor family who became the most popular soccer legend of all times. Unassumingly, the benevolent Pele rose from the ghettos of Brazil to stardom. With his legendry number 10 jersey now worn by the best player of every world fames, he led the Brazilian national team to three crowns as world soccer champions in 1958, 1962, and, 1970 and hence to a permanent possession of the “JULES RIMET TROPHY”. Scoring 1,282 goals in his soccer career, he played “soccer in its purest form,” he had this to say, “It seems that God brought me to earth with a mission to play soccer”. He was the highest paid athlete when he joined the North American Cosmos team in 1975. He is one sportsman that became a sports minister of his country that saw Brazil crowned a quintuple of soccer world champions. With humility he quietly declined a nomination that would have seen him replacing the outgoing FIFA world president SEPP BLATTER of Germany. (Photo: Dr Augustine A Kamara)

However, besides being the longest sports minister of Brazil, he was the 1978 International Nobel Peace laureate and in 1980 was named the athlete of the century and many more accolades are added to his name.   I will not mention his numerous achievements he acquired and ask a salient question.   How many types of Peles do we have in the world? The answer is simple just one and that’s the unique EDSON ARANTES DO NASCIMENTO – PELE of Brazil.

In order to be successful in soccer, I think it’s worth emulating the legend’s footprints, unfortunately, sport is now contaminated with drugs, and corrupted by money and foolish pride. My advice today without much ado is to comfort and motivate our national team that recently lost to Niamey after high expectations to win. My little knowledge from soccer both as one time a forward and a captain prompted my missive to the water front boys not to lose hope or give up becoming world cup qualifiers. The game of soccer, the most popular sport, is beautiful and easy to watch, but when you are in the pitch it becomes both a physical and mental challenge. The latter is complimentary to the former which requires perfect concentration at all time until the final whistle. When those elements are in default it gives the opponent a winning advantage. Therefore every advantage should be utilized because opportunity once lost would never be regained.

Two important approaches that stand paramount are team work and team culture. The better is team work which leads to the culture of the team which varies according to the skills of the players. It is important for players to develop a working culture, understanding one’s culture becomes an easy task and can outwit your opponent easily.

I want to congratulate our team the Leone Stars after losing. Please take this loss as a lesson of reference and correct your mistakes. This is going to boost your morale for all future matches. Do you know that most professors of universities have failed an exam miserably at one time or another?

To coach Christian Cole and all the trainers including the new international foreign coach, now is the time to work for a better qualifier.

The pressure to win was enormous compared to the final preparation. There was not enough time to acclimatize. The late arrival of foreign based players was not enough to build the unique culture a team should possess. The body’s physiology requires at least two weeks in adapting in a rapid manner when moving from one part of a continent to the other. Changes in time, extreme weather and other environmental factors should be considered. We may want to consider getting the team camped earlier next time. But again we have to realize getting a release from foreign clubs is not always easy. There is also a problem of sponsorship. Football or call it soccer is an occupation and from common sense and daily occurrences it is good to be nationalistic but sometimes better to be realistic.

African footballers have the potentials which are promoted abroad to world fame with what they are paid and life is sometimes difficult for African players, maximum risks for their countries when they fully know that if they sustain injuries leading to disability would wreck their careers and livelihood. Nevertheless, our boys have shown patriotism to represent us which means we should not despise them for losing a match. There is more to it than just winning or losing.

Let’s look at the scenario of the Togolese national team when they suffered an ambush attack losing some of their players and some maimed for life during the last World Cup in South Africa and those players who survived the brutal attack are left alone with little or no help to sustain themselves.

I believe any player can take maximum risk to win a match with a satisfactory salary and life insurance. Nevertheless, one must not forget to highlight the philanthropic gestures by some of our foreign based players that usually help their countrymen and teammates. Seen from stars Nkownu Kanu of Nigeria, George Weah of Liberia, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and our own Mohamed Kallon of Sierra Leone, we must say Kudos to all those soccer fans that have shown patriotism to our country men and country.

Before signing out let me throw a word of comfort to our football fans. According to some studies in Europe, football is a healing factor for the youth, I believe we are all disappointed by this loss but you know let us face it , to beat any team in its home ground is difficult.  Let us prepare to cheer up our team for the return match and for those of us who can afford to accompany our team to neighboring countries, let us go with optimism and zeal in supporting our national team.

By Dr. Augustine A. Kamara (The “Will Man”), Virginia, USA

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