-for outstanding contributions to sports and entertainment
April 21, 2107 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Commonwealth Africa Initiative has recognized the outstanding contributions of the Founder and Director-General of Freetong Players International and President of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) for their outstanding contributions to entertainment and football in Africa.
Charlie Haffner and Isha Johansen were recognized during the recently hosted Commonwealth African Summit in London, after their nomination by Dr. Adonis Abboud, who is a member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Africa Initiative.
Before presenting the awards, Dr. Adonis Abboud congratulated the awardees and implored them to continue their work in improving entertainment and sports in the country.
He stated that the Commonwealth African Initiative was a Pan-African United Kingdom non-priofit organization with a mandate to promote the interest of Africans and foster more opportunities for commonwealth citizens from the continent.
According to him, through scholarships programs and exchange of activities, as well as forums and events, the initiative try to foster economic prosperity for Commonwealth nations in Africa.
Dr. Abboud revealed that following his invitation to serve in the board of governors of the initiative, he nominated four Sierra Leoneans who have excelled in their fields for recognition but only two was confirmed by the initiative.
Currently being co-chaired by Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and Balonese Frazer, member of the UK House of Lords, he said the initiative was established to institutionalize the Commonwealth African summit.
Mr. Haffner was full of praised for the Commonwealth African Initiative after receiving the award and promised to do more to improve entertainment in the country.
“I am humble to receive this highest honour from the Queen of England. It shows that we have to keep toiling and doing the good work. Everyone has contributed to towards me receiving this award,” he said.
Also, after receiving the award, Isha Johansen said: “I am happy and humble to receive such an award. Whenever I am recognized for my work, I take it as an honour not for me but for the people of Sierra Leone, especially the women and children. My journey in football started in 2004 when I take kids who were victims of the war, using football and their talent to rebrand and sell Sierra Leone.”
She said the recognition shows that if people really believe and committed in something for the pride of the nation and not for improving self, it will pay off for them and the country as a whole.
According to her, sports, especially football and entertainment were the two single most areas of career and involvement that is second to none in a nation because it helps to bridge barriers, solve dispute and fight discrimination.
Madam Johansen became the first Sierra Leone and African recently to be elected to serve in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee.