News / Africa

Cricket Makes Comeback in Sierra Leone

Boys play cricket in Freetown at Kingtom Oval, Sierra Leone's only cricket oval, November 15, 2012.
Boys play cricket in Freetown at Kingtom Oval, Sierra Leone's only cricket oval, November 15, 2012.
The game of cricket is making a comeback in Sierra Leone and is inspiring young men in particular.  Many young people who play are also being encouraged to stay in school by the local cricket association.  

The temperature is 28 C in the afternoon as a coach shouts out commands to his cricket players at Sierra Leone's only cricket ground in the country's capital Freetown.

The players look intense, concentrating on their game.  But this is not any random cricket game, this is different.

A young cricket player from the SLCA playing a match at the Kingtom oval in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12, 2013. (N. deVries/VOA)A young cricket player from the SLCA playing a match at the Kingtom oval in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12, 2013. (N. deVries/VOA)
x
A young cricket player from the SLCA playing a match at the Kingtom oval in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12, 2013. (N. deVries/VOA)
A young cricket player from the SLCA playing a match at the Kingtom oval in Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 12, 2013. (N. deVries/VOA)
Several of these cricket players are playing not only for fun, but also to enhance their education and improve their lives.  Osman Koroma, 18, is currently is homeless. "I am living around with my friends, so when I want to go to sleep, I say to my friends, 'Man, I am coming over' and I go and lay my head," he explained.

Koroma started playing cricket when he was just nine years old.  He was having trouble in school and decided to try it as a hobby.

His family did not like him playing though, because they were worried it would interfere more with his studies.  They told him he had to leave the house if he continued playing.

By then the sport was his passion, so he chose to leave home.  The Sierra Leone Cricket Association stepped in and encouraged him to stay in school and still play cricket.

The Association even helped with his school fees.  Koroma says cricket has helped him stay more focused, because he says the game is all about discipline.  He has competed in several West African tournaments, and encourages other young men to take up the game. "Let them come and find a way out, to play sports, cricket, it is a game played all over the world," he stated. "A responsible game."

Usman Thomas Sankoh, 17, is another youth struggling because he could not afford his school fees.

The Sierra Leone Cricket Association also helped him pay his fees and encouraged him to play cricket.  He is now a strong bowler and batman.

Speaking in his native Krio language Sankoh said the game of cricket helped pick him up from the gutter and brought him to life.  He is grateful for that.

SLCA CEO Francis Samura is one of the driving forces behind helping keep youth in school, while playing cricket.  Through playing cricket he also gained self confidence when he was a teenager.  Now he wants to help others. "I have the focus that I must do better in life, I must be somebody who can contribute to development, of my country, develop myself and help other people," Samura said. "So I am an example to the youth."

Samura says with so many youth unemployed in the country, 70 percent according to the World Bank, there is a desperate need for youth to stay in school.  He says the majority of money to help pay for players' school fees comes from the Sierra Leone government and the International Cricket Council.  

Samura also wants youth to understand the history and significance the game has had on the country.

Sierra Leone is a former British colony, and the game was first introduced by the British Royal Artillery in 1898.  The sport thrived among the British and the people of Sierra Leone.

Ainor Emmanuel Scott, a veteran player who first started playing as a young boy in the 1960's, remembers how popular cricket was back then and says often the British and locals would play together on the same teams. "It is a game that will mold you into a gentleman," he said.

But it was not always like this.  The game completely stopped during the country's civil war in the 1990's, which lasted a decade.  During that time almost all cricket grounds were destroyed.

It has taken a lot of patience and hard work to bring the game back.  The field these young cricketers in Freetown play on has no grass and there is no fence, but they make it work.
 
Scott says he is pleased to see so many young people taking an interest in the sport again and he spends much of his time coaching young players too. 

And the young players today are making an impact.  These days more than 4,000 young people are involved in cricket throughout Sierra Leone.

Players are unfazed by the challenge, and the SCLA's Francis Samura says they are hoping to qualify for the International Cricket Council Under-19 World Cup in February 2014.

The SLCA also hopes to encourage a West African tournament in the Gambia sometime in March.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid