Can Sierra Leone sustain a women's league?

Sierra Leone Football Association President Isha Johansen
The Sierra Leone Football Association President Isha Johansen

Sierra Leone is bidding to revitalise women's football in the country with the launch of a first ever league under the leadership of the nation's first ever female football association president, Isha Johansen,

The league is the first female domestic competition in the country in five years and also the first time teams outside Freetown are taking part.

But there are concerns about how the league will be sustained in Sierra Leone, which like many African countries, struggles to promote women's football.

The newest executive member of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) Foday Turay believes a lot needs to be done to continue the female league in the west African country.

"We can only sustain the league and save the women's game from a total collapse if there is proper planning which is lacking at the moment," Turay told BBC Sport.

"We need to have a well structured league system and a proper calendar.

"We lack the structure at the moment with no proper calendar and because of all these shortfalls we can't attract sponsors.

"And there won't be a good league without money and it comes from sponsorship. So we need to have a well structured league system."

Turay is also offering some tips on where to look at first in the structuring process of the women's game in his country.

"The first step to structure our women's game is to start from the grass roots and also have effective competitions in schools."

An owner of one of the teams participating in the league, Ansu Kassay, expressed similar sentiments.

"The SLFA also need to support the teams financially to help the game grow," said Kassay.

The league is currently being played at regional level and also serves as qualifiers for the national team finals.

But the league is not without a problem as teams in the Western Area have refused to take part in the competition until certain conditions are met relating to the governance of the SLFA.

Despite all the highlighted problems Sierra Leone are among 19 out of the continent's 55 members entered for the qualifiers of the 2018 Women's Under-20 World Cup.

They are set to play Libya in the first round of the qualifiers.

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