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

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid