By John Komora and Sylvia Andrew,
African football Iron lady Isha Johansen has declared her bid for re-election as Sierra Leone’s FA president despite saying she suffered ‘intimidation’ and ‘discrimination’ during her first term in office.
Africa’s only female FA president who took charge in 2013 and now CAF Exco member was subjected to personal attacks in her first term because of here zero tolerance on corruption and match fixing as too many people involved in Sierra Leone football view the beautiful game as a “milking cow” perhaps taking advantage that she is a woman and therefore she can be intimidated.
Speaking exclusively to Soka25east.com Johansen said “I have spent four wonderful years learning. They have been eventful, no doubt. There have been tears, and laughter. Football has taken me to the depths of both extremes at various times. But that’s just me. I stand for more than just me. I stand for football. I represent the beautiful game, and the beautiful people of my country”.
“What I have done over the years is to dare. What I have done is made a point. A point to support the good that football brings. A point to bring a smile to the face of people whose very livelihood is dependent on football”
What I have done is to dare
“I dare to say yes, and I dare to say no. I basically dare!I dare to say yes to good governance. I dare to say yes to transparency. I dare to say yes to accountability. I dare to say yes to gender empowerment and inclusivity. I dare to say yes to development. Because I dare”Johansen said
“But I also am daring to say no. No to corruption. No to intimidation. No to gender bullying. No to the ills of the society. No to exploitation. In a nutshell, in the next four years, I will be daring”she continued
On her good work and vision for Sierra Leone youth Johansen did not mince her words “I will have to make good work of the start that we have made and the foundations we have spent four years laying. I have to, so that all the work of the last four years do not go to waste. I have to, to give a sense of fulfilment to the youth of Salone, many of whom see me in the streets and smile – this giving me a sense of fulfillment. I have to, in order that I will not have to look from a distance, and blame myself if things are not done right, and feel like I have let the youth down”she added
On what she thought about being a woman in football Isha Johansen was straightforward “I am a woman, and proudly so. I believe there are many like me.Many who want to progress in this industry but do not believe they can. I represent them. And I can not let them down. Because I dare”
Football Growth in Sierra Leone
Isha Johansen also thinks her first term had a lot of positives while laying the ground work for football development
“Football has grown in Sierra Leone over the last four years. We have a national team that is not a pushover. We have a female team. And we can now start to work on building a buoyant league, supported by the right people for the right reasons in the right environment, to yield the right results. Because I dare!
“Four years in my kind of environment was a good time to lay foundations but not enough to build a structure. This is what the next four years will be – to build the structure atop the foundations that we have laid. In that time, besides putting a smile on the faces of children in the streets, I have also given them hope and a genuine reason to dream – a reason to hope, a reason to dare to believe. Because I dare!”
“And that is what I’m daring to do – by declaring my intention to run for a second term in office as head of Sierra Leonian football. And by doing this, I’m daring – daring to say yes to the right things and no to what is not right”she told soka25east.com
Since 2013 when she took over
“With support that matches or betters what I received since 2013, we can dare together and make things right. When Isha dares, football wins, the youth of Sierra Leone wins, posterity wins. So why wouldn’t I dare?”
“Four years ago I had the audacity of daring to try. I dared to vie for a position that no other woman in my country dared to dream of attaining. I faced challenges and dared to overcome them. Another four years will no doubt pose more challenges. But I am not afraid to take it on, and I am daring to overcome them; and I believe I can do that with a united family with one ‘GOAL”she added
“Our set goals will be to ensure that we bring Sierra Leone to qualify for another AFCON after a two decade absence. We can dare to achieve this together.And we want to use football to build a future for our youth, based on values and integrity. This we can dare to achieve together”
“My goal will be to empower the right administrators, the right coaches, the right players, and to empower them based on merit – merit based on credit. We dare to do this collectively”Johansen said.
“Together, let us not only dare to dream of a prosperous nation, but let us also dare to challenge whoever or whatever stands in Sierra Leone’s way from achieving its goals.Let us dare together, because we are where we are today, because I dared”Johansen concluded.
Isha Johansen’s background in youth football informs her view of what the game should be focusing on in Sierra Leone: the next generation. She wants young footballers to be better equipped with life skills and education, whether they end up overseas with a professional contract or start a new vocation altogether.