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President of Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) Message on World Sports Journalists Day

President of Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) Message on World Sports Journalists Day

Fellow colleagues, as we celebrate World Sports Journalists Day July 2 each year let me use this opportunity to salute colleague Sports Journalists, who bring the stories to the world with such passion amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

I must say I am grateful to all sports journalists in the world and Sierra Leone in particular, who have played an important role in the journey of our athletes, administrators, fans and above all the Sporting World. Without our work the sporting life of many will never be recognized.

From the breaking news to the exclusive scoops, we make sure the fans stay connected with their favorite players or clubs. Today July 2 is mainly dedicated to these writers. Sports bring happiness to a lot of people and sports reporters bring sports to those people. 

You cover the length and breadth of sports, the inside out of sports and bring the favorite athletes/players closer to the fans, through inspiring and captivating words.

I cannot finish without stating that Sierra Leone, a sport loving nation with a population of over 7 million people, is no exception to the major disconnect between sports and its family due to Covid-19.

Sports in the country – just as in many other countries across the world – is undergoing extraordinary challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and sport journalists have, in turn, been affected badly.

Covid-19 has instigated major setbacks in the development of sports in Sierra Leone which all began when the Ministry of Sports on March 17 2020, slammed a national ban on football and all sporting activities across the country. This was as a result of a Presidential Order which restricted public gatherings of not more than 100 people, as a way of preventing residents in the country from contracting the virus.

With over 500 journalists from 115 or more countries participating in the first AIPS e-Conference to discuss the title/theme: “Has Covid-19 affected journalists’ independence and future?” it’s no gainsaying the blanket ban placed on sports is affecting our work greatly.

As things stand, most sport journalists have switched over to covering non-sports stories as a way of keeping their jobs during this crucial period.

Some newspapers are vanishing gradually while some radio and television managements have also suspended sports programmes leaving presenters, analysts and their respective show followers devastated.

Meanwhile, one good aspect of it all is that some sports journalists have started their online journalism career.

Every year July 2 is celebrated as World Sports Journalists Day or International Sports Journalists Day. This day is set aside to acknowledge the sports journalists and also mark the anniversary of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), which was established in 1924 during the Summer Olympics in Paris.

Fellow colleagues, as we pray for the end of this deadly disease let me continue to admonish you all to follow religiously all those preventive measures already advanced by the health experts to keep ourselves and communities safe.

Finally, I will end this year’s statement with an excerpt from the speech delivered today by the AIPS Global President Gianni Merlo which states: 

“We believe that gathering to face an unprecedented moment of our history will be a turning point for our profession: discussing problems and solutions with the major sport press representatives from five continents could inspire each of us to protect our profession and independence and to improve our working conditions.”

God bless us all. 

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