As Installation of Kenema Artificial Turf nears completion, Fans applaud Madam Isha Johansen

As Installation of Kenema Artificial Turf nears completion, Fans applaud Madam Isha Johansen

Monday February 15, 2021

“Madam Isha Johansen is indeed a blessing to Sierra Leone’s football. With her exquisite leadership and support, we can now steadily contend with other districts relative to football infrastructure in the country,” Mustapha Arness, an astute fan of Kamboi Eagles had told me referential to the improvement of the Kenema City Field.

“The FA has made me proud. I stay in Liberia, and such development makes me proud in the midst of my Liberian friends who would have to come to watch our games here. This field had been bad. It had been difficult for the players, and we are hopeful that this development will uplift their spirit henceforth. It will motivate us to come and watch and make the players also feel the maturity and excellence of international football,” Arness asserted.

The Kenema City Field is a major football infrastructure in the East of Sierra Leone which had suffered ruins for decades. But with the current intervention of the Sierra Leone Football Association, the field, which had once been shambled, is steadily rising magnificently

“Many thanks to the country’s football federation,” other fans would say blissfully.

The field is getting a facelift- a beauty surgery that would see it emerge in the soonest time with an ultra modern synthetic artificial turf.

According to the Site Engineer, Alex P Musa, the project started in 2018, but had to stop due to some hiccups.

“We restarted it in November last year, and we are in the final smooth leveling phase,” he stated, noting that the project would have lasted for just six months if there had not been stops.

He said that the man power was there even if they had other challenges.

Musa disclosed that they had done the concrete.

“When we started the job, we had to examine the existing ground to know whether it’s fit for purpose, check the levels, and existing materials,” he pointed out, adding: “The ground was sloppy, so we had to bring in laterite to backfill and do compaction.”

He added that the next stage is to install the carpet.

However, there had been some concerns from the fans. Their desire for additional pavilions and the refencing of the field after the installation of the turf to maximize security can’t be overemphasized.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Kenema District Football Association, David Samu, said they were in line with their fans’ desire.

“We have earned a project to redo the fencing and SLFA has promised us a perimeter fence. We are going to take ownership of the structure this time. The structure was constructed by the Kenema City Council to boost their revenue generation drive, we will ensure we engage them and other relevant stakeholders to see reasons why they should leave it for football. We are also setting up restrictions for non football activities.”

Samu indicated that they were impressed with the work of the contractors so far.

“Since they restarted the project last year, it’s been going on well. We are so happy because it’s something we have been yearning for, especially so when we have been missing out on international competitions and some trainings that required artificial turf.”

A similar sentiment was also shared by Kallon Abubakar Sidikie, the Secretary General of the Eastern Region Football Association.

He revealed that the project meant a lot to them because “it’s not only going to be of service to the Kenema District, but the entire Eastern Region.”

Sidikie said most people had described it as a “White Elephant because of the halts, but with such progression being made, it could only mean a shame to them.”

Ibrahim Kamara is the Head of Media and Marketing of the Sierra Leone Football Association.

He pointed out that their “federation is extremely excited that the Kenema City Field is going to be upgraded to such a world class standard.

Kamara acknowledged that aside having the best artificial turf in Africa installed on the pitch, SLFA is also guaranteeing a perimeter fence and a flood light system for the Kenema City Field.

“This will take the field up to a standard that will qualify Kenema to be hosting international matches. Such a development will clearly give hope to the young talents in Sierra Leone, especially in the eastern part of the country.”

He stated that the project has suffered so much delays as a result of their internal rancor, but they are thankful that God has led them to reach this phase, which is the final leveling.

The federation’s press man noted that “this project is jointly done by FIFA and SLFA. FIFA fully funds the installation of the artificial turf while SLFA takes care of the perimeter fencing and the installation of the floodlights.”

“The President Bio Government through the National Sports Authority (NSA) has however collaborated with us in very many ways to ensure this project becomes a reality. They have clearly shown that we are indeed partners in development. For that, we are highly appreciative,” he said, adding that they have already been assured by the contractors that by March this year, the project will be fully completed.

Ibrahim Kamara cautioned that the pitch belongs to all Sierra Leoneans, but mostly, the people of Kenema.

“We therefore ask that the field be cared for well so that it can last for many years. Upon completion, we would ask that KDFA and the people of Kenema own the pitch and guard it with everything they have so it will serve them rightfully.”

SLFA Media Department…

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