Most schools in Sierra Leone may have by now heard about the Sama Foundation – a Charity that has been responsible for the free distribution of football equipment with a message intended to promote excellence in academic education and sport. But probably very few of these institutions would guess where the Charity’s donation is being put together.
(Photo; Bill Bryan, Klein Soccer Club Administrator)
Well, across the Atlantic Ocean from Sierra Leone, in the southern heart of the United States, Klein Soccer Club, who are based in Houston, Texas have been paying attention to the work of the Sama Foundation.
Bill Bryan is an administrator of Klein club and he has been collaborating closely with Sama Foundation President Bundu Hayes to make sure that they provide the schools and children of Sierra Leone quality sports equipment. Mr Hayes was one of Sierra Leone’s top Fifa match officials and leading journalist.
He founded the Charity to inspire Sierra Leonean kids to aspire for greater roles for their future lives.
What makes the donation different from others is that the kits have the schools crest emblazoned on the jerseys. But it is also complete with the schools colours, boots and footballs.
“I thought his cause was a great one and just tried to do what I could to help him. We have a great soccer club and the parents were very receptive to giving to this worthy cause,” Bryan said.
“I had heard of it (Sierra Leone) but really did not know much about it before talking to Bundu. Then last year during the ebola outbreak, it was in the news a lot.
Bryan was born only a few years after the United States defeated world powerhouse England in a group match of the 1950 World Cup which was hosted by Brazil. He took up refereeing later just like Hayes and played at amateur level.
Klein Soccer club was formed in 1979 and has been a solid structure with its own high-class facilities for kids’ to practice soccer in Houston.
“We offer a quality product to the kids in our area,” Bryan said. “Our coaches are parent volunteers who either know the game from playing or learn the game like I did through experience.
“We form teams by neighborhood and school so a lot of kids get to play with their friends. I think that helps a lot,” Bryan says to when asked how Sierra Leone could develop young talents.
Klein Soccer’s latest donation comes just as schools in Sierra Leone were reopening after nearly a year of suspension due to the ebola outbreak. The distribution is about to be concluded after distribution at various schools in different cities in the country.
Apart from Bryan other officials of Klein have been receiving praise from Mr Hayes himself.
“Thanks to all the soccer parents, coaches, the co-ed teams at Klein for all their support,” Hayes said. “This has also been possible thanks to Tom Davenport, Kevin and Ralph Grego for their continued support to the Foundation.”
When asked about the prospect of visiting Sierra Leone in future and also the possibility of a school from the country playing against Klein in Texas, Bryan, who has watched various African teams play, was touched.
“There would be a lot of excitement (to host a school from Sierra Leone in Houston); I think it would be a great experience. That would be a great experience (travelling to discover Sierra Leone); I don’t know if I will ever make it over there…”