A cheque of Le 4.1 billion was handed over to the Chairman of the National Sports Council by President Julius Maada Bio who also presented a conveyance to each of the 41 players and officials of the Leone Stars team during a dinner in honour of the players, hosted by the First Lady Madam Fatima Maada Bio at the Bintumani Conference Centre on the 20th June 2021.
The First Lady, in her welcome statement, congratulated the players and officials of the team and thanked them for making the country proud, adding that football should not be political because the country also needs sport to maintain a happy nation.
She further congratulated President Bio on the win and thanked him for his support to the team while also urging him to continue to give more support to the team ahead of the AFCON games in Cameroon slated for early 2022.
Speaking on behalf of his teammates, Kei Kamara who scored the qualifying goal expressed gratitude to the President and First Lady for hosting a presidential dinner in their honour.
He also appreciated the team’s coach, John Keister, for being patient with them and for ensuring that they had a victory additionally encouraging young people, who want to participate in sports, to take their education seriously and also urged his colleagues to be role models in society.
In his address to the gathering, President Bio noted that for a while now the country had been divided along party and regional lines but stated that because of the victory that Leone Stars brought home, there was a huge sign of unity. The President also said they were gathered to celebrate the team because the country is proud of its citizens.
He assured the players and officials of his continued support to make sure that the team is ready for AFCON, adding that it would definitely be an effective way of uniting the country again.
The President ended by thanking Sierra Leoneans for supporting the team and encouraging the footballers and their managers to do their best to maintain the momentum by showcasing themselves and the country for bigger opportunities.
“I want to thank all of you who played your parts in ensuring that we had victory. Going to Cameroon next year, I want to see you play classic football,” he urged the players.