July 3, 2015 By Sahr Morris Jr
The Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) yesterday (Thursday July 2) joined colleagues across the world in celebrating International Sports Journalists Day.
The day has been set aside by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) to recognise the work of sports journalists, and is commemorated all over the world by AIPS member associations.
SWASAL decided to mark this year’s celebration with a day’s symposium at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in Freetown under the theme: “Sports Development in Post-Ebola Recovery”.
Giving the keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Sports, Ishmael Al Sankoh Conteh, applauded the association for their innovative idea in deciding to commemorate the day in such a manner, and the choice of the theme.
He said the Ministry of Sports is always happy to work with SWASAL and its members “to achieve the one goal of sports development in the country” and also in the post-Ebola.
“We cannot overemphasise the role of sports journalists and journalism in the country’s post-Ebola era because our plans as a ministry are to engage in rapid development of our sporting disciplines,” Conteh said and looks forward to another successful celebration next year, especially after eradicating the Ebola virus disease.
The SWASAL president, Frank Magnus Cole, while addressing members, said the commemoration was done in a low-key because of the dreadful Ebola virus disease which has killed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans and also affected the socio-economic development of the country.
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He said: “We chose as our theme ‘Sports Development in Post-Ebola Recovery’ because of the devastation the EVD continues to cause on sports in Sierra Leone. No serious sporting activities have taken place for over a year now in the country, which means unemployment for athletes and officials; non participation in international competitions; poor performance of especially our national football teams, which cannot honour fixtures on home turf; and worst of all, the embarrassment and humiliation faced by athletes, officials and other Sierra Leoneans who struggle to secure visas to travel to foreign countries on assignments.”
The SWASAL president urged all sports journalists to focus now on how to win back the past glories Sierra Leone was known for as far as local and global sports is concerned.
“As we celebrate World Sports Journalists Day today with millions of our colleagues around the world, I urge all local sports journalists to strive for excellence in your professional work,” Cole said and thanked the executive and members of AIPS for their support in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, the government, the UN family, foreign nations and other institutions and individuals for the contributions to the fight.
Also, the SWASAL boss read out a message from the AIPS president, Gianni Merlo, to mark the day.