By Izuchukwu Okosi:
The President of the Sierra Leone Football Federation Isha Johansen has expressed an implicit belief in the capability of her country's national team, Leone Stars, to rival the Super Eagles of Nigeria and other continental giants at major tournaments with firm financial muscle.
Speaking exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com from her office in Freetown, Johansen insists the countries that have dominated in football on the African continent have been able to do so because of their vision and willingness to support the growth of the game.
Good funding for football is an objective Johansen is driving in a bid to see Sierra Leone rise as one of the best African teams capable of winning laurels at major tournaments.
"Sierra Leone is just like any of the other big names in the continent.
"We have raw talents like all the others. The difference between Sierra Leone and Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast is the funding and or access to funding.
"You (Nigeria) have an income generating system that works," Johansen who is the owner of FC johansen Football Club further told Completesportsnigeria.com:
"It might not work to the extent that some of these federations would like, but at least they receive income. You have private sector companies that are committed to sponsoring and endorsing their national teams.
"Finally, these countries have Governments, like Nigeria, that do not waiver in terms of financial commitment to their national teams.
"I think that once our FA is able to get stronger financially, we can be able to empower our teams especially the home based lads who are the answer to the future of Leone Stars," Johansen said.
Speaking on her dream for African football in the next ten years, the founder of the Women For Excellence Awards enthused:
"My dream is that we lift the World Cup. That African teams excel more on the international stage and we do not participate as token African teams.
"We should be in there to win it. We should go in prepared and structured with the discipline akin to any other world class national team.
"I dream of African federations showing strong solidarity and support towards one another. It has started with the Ebola crisis," Johansen said philosophically.
She went on to disclose that unlike Nigeria, some African countries paid deaf ears to their cries.
"Many countries shut us out and I can understand the fear.
"However, some countries rose above the discrimination- Ivory Coast, DRC, Cameroon, Algeria, and now as a sign of true leadership and brotherhood, Nigeria.
"We need each other on and off the pitch and football has the power to enforce and strengthen this solidarity," the strong woman of Sierra Leone football concluded.