LEOCEM sponsors first FA Cup in seven years
Sierra Leone’s only cement making factory, LEOCEM is the sole sponsor of the first FA Cup since 2007 when FC Kallon won the last competition against Central Parade and this was due to the revolution and visionary leadership of Sierra Leone’s first female football president, Mrs Isha Johansen, who had been working round the clock to make this happen.
At the official launch of the FA CUP last weekend at the National Stadium, the FA president said the re-emergence of the Association Cup is the rebirth of a new direction noting that with this new beginning, there is going to be a new mind set of football stakeholders.
“As a football family, stakeholders should focus on the positivity and dwell on it. Negative things are bound to be said but we must not dwell on them but rather sit down, discuss and find a better solution so that we will rise again and again and again. LEOCEM is not coming on board because I know one or two gentlemen in there, but because they believe in the Sierra Leonean dream,” she said.
Apart from the 139 Million Leones cash sponsorship plus embellishments and media packages, the winner and runner-up including several individual prize winners will receive attractive packages in the form of cement to enhance clubs’ participation in community development projects.
“LEOCEM has put some money inside this competition and in addition to that, the company would like to see these clubs contribute to the development of their various communities. We will put a package together in the form of a cement as add-ons to prize winners take home trophies, medals and cash prizes,” the LEOCEM Managing Director, Mr. Arne Johansen said.
The LEOCEM Manager disclosed that his company feels obliged to be part of what he described as a renaissance of Sierra Leone football noting that without the cooperation of the people of Sierra Leone, “LEOCEM would not have reached the peak it is today”.
According to Sorie Ibrahim Sesay – Head of Competitions at the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), the FA Cup Competition had been inactive since 2007 due to lack of sponsorship.
“On her election into office, Madam Isha Johansen and her administration made the revival of the FA Cup a top priority and in pursuit, of her agenda for the DAWN OF A NEW ERA, she personally made frantic efforts to lure the Sierra Leone Cement Cooperation, LEOCEM to be the sole sponsor of this year’s competition,” Mr Sesay said.
He further explained that this year’s Competition is unique and historical as it is the first time in the history of the competition that all Premier, First and Second Divisions clubs nationwide will participate.
“This is a clear manifestation that the current administration put high stake at taking the beautiful game to the grassroots level and ensure that all 170 registered premier, first and second division clubs take part in the revolution of Sierra Leone football,” the Head of Competitions said.
This year’s competition will be played in two Phases: the Preliminary and Final stages. In the Preliminary stage, 156 clubs from the First and Second Division clubs will partake in one-off knock out matches at districts level to get the 18 district qualifiers (one from each of the 12 districts and six from the Western Area). These 18 will then join the 14 premier league clubs for the final stages, which could be played on a home and away basis.
“The 32 teams shall be drawn taking into consideration the Geographical proximity of the teams to avoid excessive transport and lodging costs. Subject to further confirmation by the Organising Committee and an endorsement from the Executive Committee to bear the extra cost of matches, the Round of 32 matches will be played on a Home and Away basis,” Mr Sesay added.
The 2014 FA Cup is expected to host a total of 179 matches, which will commence in Bo City on February 8 and probably end in Freetown on May 8th 2014. The Champions will bag Twenty Million Leones while the Runner-up gets half of that including a CAF Confederation Cup place and a WAFU slot B respectively.
By Abubakarr Kamara
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