Youth tournament sparks scramble for youth players in Sierra Leone
The Airtel Rising Stars tournament brought so much excitement and hope to many in Sierra Leone, but now a mere youth competition is causing a serious stir in Sierra Leone football; an unprecedented rush to get the signature of the plethora of youngsters is truly on. The talent search competition organised by Airtel in collaboration with Manchester United football club which aims to provide opportunities to rising football stars to train in Manchester United football school in Tanzania has provided a unique forum for various young football stars across the country says Chernoh Musa Jalloh an international scout who also works for FC Kallon in Sierra Leone. “Never before have we seen such a tournament in Sierra Leone in which you will see a pool of vast local talent from all the corners of the country. It was inevitable that the ARS Sierra Leone tournament will definitely bring in such a pool of talent that will ignite bigger clubs and scouts in Sierra Leone,” he said.
But the scramble for the young players has also sparked a row among club owners and scouts for some of the star players involved in the tournament. This is however played down by former Inter Milan star and Sierra Leone international captain, Mohamed Kallon who now owns FC Kallon – a team comprising both senior and junior outfits. He told me that he was very happy when he learned that Airtel will organise such a tournament in Sierra Leone. Mohamed Kallon has been watching all of the matches in the ARS national finals and he insists that he will avoid any confrontation with rival club owners for the young players that have been spotted in the ARS Sierra Leone tourney he will like to see play in his club. “We have seen very good players that we are still watching and we will have to consult with technical members of our team before we conclude whether we will like to see them play with us, but we are not going to confront anybody who will want the players we have spotted because we will operate in the normal and decent way.
Mighty Blackpool team manager, James Fofanah commonly known as JJ hinted that some clubs will likely wait until they have contracted some of the young talents after which they will try to get them over. “That will be the time that we will surely be ready to say no,” he warned.
The rush for some of the youngsters has got tournament organiser, John Zonnoveld worried. Dutchman Zonnoveld cautioned that majority of the young players involved in the ARS have a long way to go and that it is essential their managers and coaches deal carefully when it comes to issues of transfer. “They do not need to just offload their players because big teams want them; they have to look to the interest of the boys and the team as a whole. Selling some of these youngsters will seriously affect the structure of these teams and they also have to be aware that there are a whole lot of opportunities when you allow players to grow and mature within their youth set up,” he noted.
Some of the youngsters that have reportedly captivated the attention of big teams are Makibie FC Patrick Gbinda, 13th Legion FC Hamza Kamara, and Theophilus Conteh, FC Pizzo Ibrahim Conteh and Jusu Conteh.
One of the players that has been spotted by many scouts in the tourney; Makibie FC’s Patrick Gbinda told me that he is surprised by the interest that has been shown in him, “As a footballer, you are impressed with such developments but for now I just focus on carrying on my usual schedule and taking things as they are. I know that teams are after me, they have contacted my coach and some have even contacted me personally but my answer to them is talk to my manager – for now my one and only focus is to have an opportunity to go to Tanzania in the Manchester United football clinic and God willing I hope to achieve that and I am not that concerned about big clubs in Sierra Leone interest in me at this stage,” he said.
by Muctaru Wurie
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